IN order to ensure customers still receive high levels of customer service when showrooms are shut, dealers need the correct website infrastructure and necessary online facilities to manage their customer interactions, believes Manheim.
The company can provide dealers with its online ‘Live Advisor’ service – a remotely controlled online chat facility, which allows them to speak with their customers, even when the dealership is closed.
‘We’re finding more and more dealers using Manheim’s online Live Advisor, which is essentially an online chat function. It means dealers can increase their customer interaction throughout a 24-hour period,’ head of marketing at Manheim, Andy Cullwick, explains.
‘Research shows there are more people searching out of standardised dealership hours, and if you haven’t got your web presence up to scratch they’re going to bypass you and go somewhere else, resulting in you losing a customer,’ explains Cullwick. ‘At Manheim, we’re making sure our dealers benefit from maximised online presence.’
By improving a dealership’s website and making sure it’s equipped with the Live Advisor tool, customers can now ask questions about any particular vehicle listed on the site and arrange an appointment for a later date at the dealership.
‘Dealers can actually manage these chats remotely, so even if the dealership is closed, they can use our Live Advisor app and continue their customer conversations,’ explains Cullwick. ‘The dealer could be sat at home using their iPad to capture conversations with potential customers and then record that back into their own customer management systems.
‘The service is potentially putting the dealer in a 24/7 proposition, which wasn’t a reality this time two years ago. This service will also help dealers to manage their experience and how they present the quality of stock that they have.’
According to Manheim, research shows that the more images a dealer posts of a listed vehicle, the more likely a customer will be to click on the advert. Manheim provides a number of photography solutions and professional imagery services that allow dealers to maximise their online image quality.
‘One problem a lot of dealers struggle with is getting a good quality photo of a car when it’s on their forecourt. To overcome this, we offer a Dropped-In Background service, allowing dealers to upload photographs to our system and we will insert a dealer-branded or standardised background to remove objects that may have distracted the customer,’ explains Cullwick. ‘This will further help customers to make a decision about whether or not they want to go in for a test drive, linking back to the Live Advisor service.’
Since Google introduced its new Panda and Penguin updates, dealers are struggling to manage and retain a strong web presence. In order to ensure dealer websites remain at the top of the search rankings, Manheim works with dealers to develop website structure and brand key words.
‘Google has made a number of changes to the way in which websites get ranked and searched for,’ explains Cullwick. ‘Now it’s introduced new Panda and Penguin updates, dealers aren’t being seen as much.
‘We’ve seen some dealers lose anything from up to 60 to 70 per cent of their traffic simply because of the changes Google has made, which has caused them to fall in search rankings.’
According to Manheim, this fall will result in dealers losing out on more than £3m in sales per year. ‘It’s a fine art to make sure you’re developing your website correctly while meeting Google’s strict requirements,’ says Cullwick.
‘At Manheim, we make sure all dealer websites are structured correctly to ensure the brand’s key words are receiving the highest possible visibility, to maximise their chances of being found in the search rankings.’
It’s clear that today’s modern customer is more likely to review and decide upon a sale during a time that suits them more conveniently. A dealer’s first challenge is to attract the buyer to their website and once they’re there, Live Advisor will ensure they stay there, providing them with those all-important sales leads.