The customer experience is what sets you apart from competing dealerships, and It's time to transform our approach from providing popcorn and balloons to really analyzing how we connect and converse with our customers. Dealerships need to understand who the customer is and then reach them when and where they are. Aimi Gundersen, Project Manager at BetterCarPeople, talks about what happens when dealers ignore customers.
I have two children who are now driving.
In addition to the lack of sleep that I get from constant worry, I am also looking for a vehicle for my daughter. I know the price range and basic model that I would be willing to purchase, and just started my online search.
I have filled out lead forms and interest inquiries to a local dealership I want to work with.
At the time of writing this, I have two generic auto-responses and no original, personal contact.
And I really wanted someone to contact me. I guess I am moving on to the next dealership.
If you think this scenario has not happened in your dealership, you either have an amazing internet process in place or are in denial.
I have studied the many (and I mean many) researched articles which have analyzed the viability of internet leads. These studies were substantial (some up to three years) and analyzed/quantified large amounts of data. From the Harvard Business Review to The Lead Response Management Study, they have all concluded the same results.
That is the amount of time in which you need to respond to a lead.
10 minutes to send an amazing personalized email or to call a customer. After 30 minutes, the viability of making contact with the potential customer decreases 21%. After an hour, the likelihood drops significantly to almost the same percentage as a cold call (Lead Response Management Study).
That is fine during the day. That time frame should be more than attainable. Regardless of whether or not you have a BDC in place, or an internet team, or if the salespeople are taking turns answering the leads, 10 minutes should not be an issue during normal business hours. After all, an internet lead should be no different than a person walking into the showroom, right?
You could never imagine making a person wait that long to be greeted.
But what about your after-hour leads?
When you close your doors and turn off the lights, how do you reach out to those leads that come in at 9, 10, or 11 pm? There is a dangerous school of thought which deems late night internet leads as nuisances.
Kids on the computer.
People passively searching, but not really serious.
However, we know, and the industry knows, that the internet--specifically mobile--is the way people research their next vehicle purchase. The average car buyer is looking at multiple sources (18.2 ring a bell?) online before she ever steps foot on lot. And by that point, she has by all indication, most likely made her decision.
So when is she shopping? She is shopping after work. After things have settled down and she has time to take a moment for herself. Your digital showroom is open 24 hours a day. We need to treat is as such so we don’t lose valuable customers.
We also know from our research that about 30% of all leads come in after-hours. 30% of your potential business is submitting leads when your not at the dealership.
If you respond with an autoresponder, turn it off. The customer knows you are not working at 1 am and does not expect a call, but would still appreciate some human engagement to tide them over until the next morning. A personalized email answering any questions would do the trick. Automotive News highlighted this notion in a January article which detailed how autoresponders actually hurt the sales process, the opposite of what was previously thought.
How does this all tie into customer experience? Experience is all about communication. And the way you communicate with your customers dictates the culture and values of your dealership. Communicate in a customer centric way--meet them where they are when they are there.
You need to respect that online customer just as you would the customer who walks into the dealership at 3 pm. Are you missing out on 30% of your business because of poor customer communication?
The dealerships across town may not be….
Let’s Talk About It:
- What are some areas where your dealership excels in regards to customer experience?
How do you communicate with customers after hours?
- What changes need to be made at your dealerships to improve the overall experience?