On the Phone, Not off the Hook



The good news is, auto dealers are getting a lot of phone calls in 2014. The bad news? They don’t always know how to answer them.

Over 70% of American adults had Internet access at home in 2011. Around the same time, internet leads were beginning to outpace phone leads and suddenly Internet leads were in, and phone leads had gone the way of, well, the telephone.

The pervasiveness and ubiquity of the smartphone, however, changed all that. Phone leads are up 46% over the Internet leads in the last two years. The fact that Google offers a click-to-call feature that integrates seamlessly with these smartphones likely contributes to this growth. According to a Google research study, 70% of mobile searchers use click to call, and an astounding 60% of auto shoppers were likely to call “if the capability was available in a smartphone search result.”

Buyers even reported being more satisfied with their experience if they called in, rather than submitted an email lead. In fact, submitting a lead online no longer fits within the Internet-driven instant information model. Consumers want to be able to get their appointment or the answer to their question right away and not have to wait (sometimes over four hours) for a response.

According to a WardsAuto.com article, “the goal at most dealerships is to get customers off line and on the telephone.” Phone call numbers are up, even higher than many experts expected for 2014, so where’s the catch?

A Dealix survey of over 3000 phone calls into dealerships saw that dealers miss opportunities over the phone nearly 75% of the time:

  • 72% of dealers did not ask for an appointment with the caller.
  • 35% of dealers did not suggest alternatives if the caller’s first vehicle of interest was already sold.
  • 24% of dealer voicemail systems were full or not functional, so the customer was unable [to] leave a message.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of calls that don’t even make it that far. Other fumbles, including keeping a customer on hold for too long and poor phone etiquette, can also present communication barriers.

There are a multitude of phone training and answering systems that offer to help dealers combat these too frequent blunders. When handled correctly, phone calls can result in appointments 40% of the time.

To get the most out of calls to your dealership, I suggest following this phone call process laid out by AutoNation Inc.:

  • Answer quickly.
  • Be nice and knowledgeable.
  • Answer questions willingly.
  • Get contact information.
  • Cue the next action, usually setting up a dealership appointment.

Hone your phone skills – your customers will appreciate it.

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