How to piss customers off online...with only the best intentions.

Chris Pyle
The following is a true story. The names have been withheld to protect the innocent. Once upon a time, a customer at work decided to go online to get some info about buying or leasing a new vehicle. They narrow down their choices and finally decide to contact a dealer, or maybe even a few dealers to "keep them honest". They click on the call to action button that is best describes their needs, wrote a little note, sat back and waited. What happens next? 1. An explosion of Auto responders comes flooding into their in box. They see things like “We are the biggest, the baddest, the best, the most amazing”, and on and on. The customer thinks... “That’s all well and good, but all I wanted was some basic product info and to see if there were any good lease programs going on” after a while the customer thinks “wow that’s annoying, I asked a simple question and it's like no one even noticed...” 2. After surviving the initial onslaught, round 2 begins in a few minutes and can last for hours. “Pick me!” these new emails say, and although some may contain some level of personal touches from an actual human, very few, if any, have addressed the customers questions, needs, or concerns. What’s worse, is the customers phone starts blowing up. Cell, office, home, all of them, by every store they’ve contacted all at once. The customer thinks “if I wanted to talk on the phone, I’d have called these stupid people, I’m at work for goodness sake!” 3. A few more hours pass and round 3 begins. These pointless emails are similar to the first round of poor taste, auto generated garbage, only this time it’s “The Managers turn”. By now the customers response is simple. DELETE! Good thing too. If they read it, it would have been signed by a different person than the email address stated, resulting in an even more confused and irritated customer. This is all thanks to the “Manager”... 4. The next day, after a complete waste of time the first day, the annoyed customer (if they didn’t start looking at another brand by now) starts to sift through the mountain of B.S emails, in hopes of finding some hint of useful information, or interesting content hidden in all the noise. If we're lucky, they even respond to us. The email from the customer goes something like this “Hi Mr./Mrs. Salesperson, I am in the market for a new XYZ vehicle and was wondering if you have any lease specials currently?” Within a few minutes, the phone rings at work for the second straight day in a row and with no surprise, the customer lets it go to voice mail. Why should they answer when we have shown them no reason to invest (more like waste) their time assets with us during THEIR business hours? 5. Later that day an email response from the same salesperson states “I would love to give you lease info, but I can’t. I can’t give you a lease until I know where you work (even though they’ve called the work number twice by now) I need to know how many miles a year you plan to drive and exactly what options you want, oh and of course how much money you would like to put down. By the way, do you have a trade? When would you like to come in? I don’t think your phone is working since I keep calling you but you never answer. Once I have these things, I can give you a lease quote.” What’s the end result? The customer at this point loses all hope of having a productive and simple transaction and thinks “If I knew what packages I wanted, why the hell would I have emailed these people for more info in the first place! God I hate car shopping, why do they always make it so difficult!” Meanwhile, the salesperson thinks, “I don’t know why this a** hole doesn’t answer the phone, I’ve called them a bunch of times, they only responded to one email, and then they want a lease, which I can’t give them until I know what options, how much they drives, where they live, how much they're putting is wrong with people?” What are the chances of these two ever getting together? Not very good to say the least, yet this exact thing happens each and every day, all across the country over and over again. The question then becomes, if what we are doing now is not serving the needs and wants of our customers, who is really the a** hole? After all, we are the “Professionals”...It’s up to us to find a better way to communicate and exchange information with potential buyers, isn't it? After an actual customer gave me this play by play breakdown of their experience, I wrote this for my sales team to help them understand the pain they were causing their e-leads (unknowingly of course) through the eyes of a customer. Now that I’ve found Drivingsales, I would love to hear all of your ideas! How do you cut through the white noise? Have you found a better way to make car shopping fun? Any Horror stories you've learned from?
Tegan Dover
Wow, that sounds like my car buying experience a couple of months ago. I knew the exact car I wanted and even said in my lead submission that I wanted to schedule a time to take delivery of that vehicle the next day. I also received the slew of automated emails, at one point I had received an email from a BDC rep, a salesperson and two sales managers. At that point, I didn't know who I was talking to only that no one had acknowledged my request to make an appointment to buy a car. I submitted the lead at about 11am and didn't receive any type of reply until 5:30pm that evening when my phone rang and the salesperson asked me if I wanted to come down to test drive. In response, I asked him if he had read my lead submission and if he was aware of my specific request. His response, "No." I have worked in the automotive industry for over 10 years and unfortunately some things have not changed. I did end up buying from that dealer but only because they had the very specific model and color I wanted. I will not be returning there for service or future vehicle purchases. To make matters even worse, I learned a few months after purchasing that the sales person I purchased my vehicle from was no longer with the dealership yet last week I received a "follow-up" letter from him with someone else's signature asking for referrals. My point to all of this is processes and even scripts have their place but we as "Professionals" do not need to act like drones and just go through the motions. Be available to adjust to your customer's needs or requests. Your automated processes through your CRM tool need to be able to accommodate such changes. Don't let your processes get bigger than you can manager or provide proper oversight. Make sure that if customer information is being updated in one area or your DMS or CRM that is is also updated in all other customer information locations.
Grant Gooley
Ouch! This sounds crazy! In fact I laughed a few times. I suggest DSU to anyone who replies to a lead this way!
Big Tom LaPointe
It always frustrated me dealing with vendors telling me how to sell cars when they have never sold vehicles themselves. In the case of programming CRM automated responses, it seems they have never BOUGHT ONE either! Proof that academic focus groups can never replace a human touch. On one hand, this is surprising, while on the other, massive turnover and low wages foster an environment in which dealers are sold on the ideas that automation can sell cars.
Bill Simmons
And we wonder why lead form conversions only average in the 2% range. Now that the internet has been around a while and many of our customers are back in the market for another vehicle, they remember the onslaught of emails from the last shopping trip. Think they are going to fill out a form again this time? Probably not.
Chris Pyle
Glad I'm not the only one that's had to work their way back from this type of insanity...Bill you bring up a very good point. Many customer HAVE already been down this road before, leading them to give us fake phone numbers and bad info on their next e-lead. The struggle I face (daily) is from sales people comlpaining that "they gave us a bad number" like somehow that means they aren't a serious buyer. I keep reminding my team that we've lost that right through years of abuse and must now earn back their trust. Take Chat for example. I still have some salespeople that will get a chat lead, click the "how can I help you" button, then no matter what the customer says next, they go right for the "PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR NAME AND PHONE NUMBER" (yes all caps) which 9 times out of 10 results in...."the customer has left the conversation"...yet somehow they think the customer is the a** hole!? It's great hearing how others are dealing with this sort of thing and I appreciate the comments!

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