‘Dealers need to talk to customers out of hours’

Time 10:11 am, March 24, 2014

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DEALERS without a means of out-of-hours communication could be missing out on leads from potential online buyers.

That’s the message delivered by an Auto Trader white paper called Mind the Gap, which explored communication with customers during standard opening hours, but exposed a lack of engagement at times when buyers are actually searching for their next car.

Jointly conducted by Mediahawk and Auto Trader, the research tracked telephone calls to dealers over a three-year period and found that 98 per cent take place between normal office hours of 8am and 6pm.

While this is the peak time for dealer engagement, a significant spike takes place later in the evening. Two thirds, or 67 per cent, of all Auto Trader online searching takes place outside office hours, between 7pm and 11pm. And the evidence points to an increasing desire for engagement between potential online buyers and dealers at this time.

In a survey of nearly 2,000 car buyers last month, Auto Trader found that 74 per cent would be happy to make an out-of-hours inquiry to a dealer. Furthermore, one in seven – or 14 per cent – said that they would prefer to use a Live Chat service, reflecting a desire to interact online without the pressure that might come from a direct call during normal opening hours.

Professional response

Mind the Gap concludes that Live Chat is a simple way of bridging the gap between customer search behaviour out of hours and a growing desire to interact online.

Nick King, market research director at Auto Trader, said: ‘In the modern interconnected world, consumers expect a swift and professional response to queries and questions, even out of hours, and retailers must make sure they are available to engage at any time.

‘This requires a different kind of mindset to what has gone on in the past.

‘Our Mind the Gap research suggests that adopting a Live Chat or Managed Chat service may well be the difference between seizing the opportunity for every sale and losing a hot lead to a competitor.’

Dave Brown's avatar

Dave, production editor on Car Dealer Magazine, is a journalist with more than 30 years' experience in the worlds of newspapers, magazines and public relations.

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