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Automotive CRM

How the Speed of Information Affect the Customer Experience

Your dealership likely spends a lot of money each month for internet leads. Are you responding to each lead within minutes? If not, you’re throwing money away.

Fast responses win business. According to a study from the Harvard Business Review, companies that respond to a lead within the first hour are 7X more likely to qualify that lead (defined as having a meaningful conversation with a decision maker) than those who respond even an hour later.

Those who respond within an hour are 60X more likely to qualify a lead than companies that wait 24 hours.

As showroom visits decrease due to social distancing, internet inquiries are a crucial part of your business. The same is true of emails and texts. Responding to all leads in real time is critical to your success.

Ready to speed up your response time and deliver a better customer experience? Implement the following strategies.

Capitalize on every lead with BDC services that track inside your CRM.

An experienced automotive BDC is your best bet to ensure every lead is followed-up quickly and completely. Leaning on your BDC also frees up sales and service staff so they can focus on low-funnel opportunities.

Make sure your BDC is tracking all activity in your CRM to manage leads more effectively and provide an integrated customer experience. 

Many dealers prefer using internal BDCs so they can control leads and processes. But an internal BDC can be expensive in today’s circumstances and you’re typically not getting after-hours coverage. Going with an external BDC, or taking a hybrid approach, helps with overflow and after-hours inquiries, particularly in times where showroom visits are slower.

Outsourcing to a virtual BDC is not a silver bullet, but an additional tool to improve the experience customers have with your dealership.

Respond faster with texting.

All customers want information fast. So, how do you ensure your leads are getting the information they want at the speed they require?

Don’t sleep on text messaging. Texting is faster than a phone call and on average results in 78 percent higher open rates than email.

More than 90 percent of texts are read within three minutes of being received. It’s an excellent form of real-time, two-way, contactless conversation.

Texting is an efficient way for sales to stay connected to customers, but it’s just as helpful in your service department. It’s a fast way to send status updates, respond to inquiries, and get approval on service work – all while techs stay in their bays getting more done in less time.

It is a bad business practice to allow personnel to conduct any dealership business on their personal phones, which are not tied to your CRM. You can’t capture conversations, review texts for training purposes, or monitor what employees are really doing if they’re using their personal phones. An employee may look busy, but is that a customer exchange or a chat with a friend?

The high turnover in the auto industry also means you’re risking that employees will take valuable customer information with them if they decide to leave your dealership.

The easiest way to mitigate risk is to purchase business-only mobile devices for employees that tie into your CRM. You incur upfront costs, but those pale in comparison to safeguarding customer data and conversations. 

Customize communications.

Customers practicing social distancing are turning to phone, text, email, and digital retailing tools to interact with your dealership. Though they may not be in your showroom, they still expect a personal and efficient experience.

A personal interaction strategy makes customers and leads feel seen, heard, and valued. Ensuring your CRM has the tools to customize communication to each customer’s preference means happier buyers.

For example, if a customer sends a lead through your digital retailing tools, don’t pick up the phone and give them a call. They’ve indicated they want to work with you online. Calling them may make them feel pressured and turn them off to working with your dealership.

The more data you have, the more personal and targeted you can make your communications. Take advantage of advanced CRM functionality to aggregate, view, and analyze all customer data in one place. Then tailor follow-up processes to an individual buyer’s wants and needs. This gives you a much better chance of keeping customers happy and buying from your dealership.

Examine current Internet lead performance.

When sales staff don’t follow best practices, leads get dropped or never enter your CRM. Take advantage of the current drop in customer demand to do a benchmark audit of the health of your processes.

Take a look at your CRM sales data for the month before our current disruption hit (when business was still “normal”).  Benchmark your data against the industry standard that for every 100 leads, 40 percent should set an appointment. Of those 40 people, 50 percent should show up. Of those that show up, 50 percent should buy. That nets you a 10 percent closing ratio. The other five percent of buyers submit information online and show up at the dealership without setting an appointment.

Check employee contact reports if you are not hitting these benchmarks. Employees should make seven calls and send five emails per lead over a 30-day period to achieve these numbers. If they’re not, it’s an opportunity for coaching and improving your team.

When demand returns, keep an eye on those benchmarks. Still not hitting the right numbers? Consider adding an outsourced BDC or take the hybrid approach mentioned above. Dedicating more of the heavy lifting to a BDC can reduce your inquiry handling times up to 40 percent and ensure customers receive fast, quality responses.

It’s more important than ever to evaluate how fast you’re providing information to customers, especially internet inquiries. The shift away from in-person interactions may continue after this change in climate subsides, so take the time now to examine your processes and analyze your operations now. Updating and modernizing your business means you will hit the ground running when demand surges back.