Features Motor Mouth

Dealers need to be Open All Hours

Time 10:08 am, April 16, 2013

JLR_100th_Dealer_In_China_281112_02THE modern consumer is empowered.

They know their rights and how to search around when customer service is not up to scratch and response times are not quick enough. With people increasingly sending enquiries out of hours and from mobile devices, it is important to build the channels with which to respond effectively. But, it isn’t enough to invest in modern communications technology; you have to know how to use it as well.

This might mean operating out of hours, introducing new channels through which to communicate and investing in the latest technology. But, most importantly, it involves understanding that the customer enquiry is the most valuable asset a dealership can have; nurture it and you generate a sale, ignore it and you lose out. The big message for motor dealers is clear; consumers expect dealers to be open for business whenever they want to buy or enquire about their products and services.

In January 2013, research by Motors.co.uk showed that 27 per cent of possible sales leads were missed by dealers due to phone calls going unanswered. Perhaps sales staff do not consider the phone ringing to be the number one priority; perhaps they expect the customer will call back. Our January 2013 data suggests strongly otherwise, with 48 per cent of callers not receiving an answer first time of asking never calling that dealer back.

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Likewise, details captured over the Christmas period showed that 62 car buyers rang Motors.co.uk dealers on Christmas Day. In addition, visits to the Motors.co.uk website via mobile devices such as iPads rose by 62 per cent between December 25 and 27 December, access to the site via Android smartphones increased by a significant 485 per cent compared to the same period in 2011.

In separate research, of 40 dealerships approached by the Motors.co.uk team on Twitter, just 12 responded to requests for information on their latest deals and only half of those managed to do so within an hour. Four dealers directed the interested consumer back to their website with no additional information, two asked the consumer to phone them and one asked for a follow in order to have a conversation over DM – Twitter’s private instant messaging function. In addition, just two of those dealers suggested specific cars which might be of interest to our Twitter consumers and only three tried to engage in a conversation.

Customer service is vital. In an age where a reputation can be wiped out by a negative review online in seconds, it is important to provide customers with as near to immediate response as possible. As a society, we are increasingly impatient and when we don’t get the desired response straight away, we look elsewhere. It is no different in the motor industry. If customers don’t get a quick response from a dealer about the availability of an advertised vehicle, they will move on to their next choice without a second thought. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what channel you are using, the old adage of putting the customer first still rings true.

Andy Coulthurst's avatar

Andy is managing director of Motors.co.uk. Read his thoughts here every month.

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