DEALERS could be missing out on car sales by failing to reply to buyers’ email queries, according to insights from online automotive marketplace CarGurus.
The study of in-the-market consumers found a quarter said their first contact with a dealer would always be via email – but half complained about a woeful response rate.
Potential buyers said email responses weren’t quick enough and that even when they did get a reply it was often from someone who couldn’t help. Customers are also left annoyed by a stream of spam messages filling up the inbox after contacting a dealership.
For those thinking the humble telephone is dead, it’s not!
The study found it is still used by 28 per cent as a first port of call with just over a third who plan to visit the forecourt not making any contact remotely beforehand.
‘It’s obvious really, first impressions count,’ says Wendy Harris, vice president of European sales at CarGurus. ‘In an age of instant gratification and immediacy, dealers need to make sure they have the processes and people in place to respond in a timely and accurate fashion.’
Making a strong digital first impression is another crucial element at the beginning of the car-buying process.
Almost a quarter of shoppers will click on maps to locate their nearest dealer in order to plan their first visit, with younger buyers over twice as likely to look for directions than their older counterparts. Meanwhile, nearly a third of buyers peruse the reviews of a dealership before making a formal enquiry.
‘We’re seeing consumers on our site looking to connect with the dealer because they are confident that the deal they have found is fair, the dealer is reputable and trusted and they are simply looking to complete the purchase,’ adds Wendy.
‘As a result, regardless of how they’ve chosen to engage for the first time, the dealer needs to be structured to respond accordingly.
‘Ironically, they’ve done the hard part in intelligently pricing the vehicle, but too often let themselves down at the first point of contact.’