Call tracking and analytics firm, CallSource, recently released their first Inbound Phone Experience Study. The goal was to determine the impact on customer experience based on how each brand handles inbound phone calls. What it revealed was remarkable, and provided insight for dealers to better understand callers and their process to the sale. Three scoring criteria stood out: answer rate, connectivity rate, and appointment set rate. How does each of these criteria affect CX?
First and foremost, the phone needs to be picked up. CallSource determined the answer rate as a percentage of all the calls answered within a 24-hour period. On average, their study showed 95% pf calls were answered in dealerships. Not bad, but that’s still 1 in every 20 calls that goes unanswered, and there’s no reason that should ever happen.
It’s extremely likely that a caller who doesn’t get picked up will abandon the dealership and try the competition. Simple as that.
Of the calls that are received, you’d imagine the next hurdle would be setting an appointment. But that’s not the case - it’s actually in getting the caller connected to the right place. Only 83% of callers connect to a live person in the right department. That number sounds pretty solid, but nearly 1 in 5 calls goes to voicemail or to the wrong department.
Picture yourself in the customer’s shoes. How satisfied will you be with your experience at this point? If a basic phone call isn’t handled properly, how do you project the rest of your interaction going?
And finally, the whole reason you have a process for answering calls is to convert them to the sale. Sadly, the appointment set rate falls well short of expectations, both by customers and by dealers.
Stephanie Robbins, Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at CallSource, says, “On average, dealers are only converting 15% of sales prospects to a hard appointment.”
Callers punch those numbers into their device for a reason. Inbound calls are incredibly strong leads - potential buyers are reaching out to you! 17 out of 20 callers get off the line without committing to a firm date or time for a visit, and often they’re in the wind and unlikely to buy from you.
What’s often understood as a basic skill, handling inbound calls is not as straightforward as dealers might think. Especially as younger generations take over the switchboard - generations that communicate primarily with text and DMs - training is the first step. Training in any role, even as routine as answering and transferring calls, is required before accountability can be commanded.
Train your Director of First Impressions (receptionist) to comprehend the caller’s needs. Is it the service department or sales that they’re looking for? Are they searching for a new or used vehicle, or do they need help with a current car? Do they have a contact name they need to speak with?
Coach team members to field calls with open-ended questions. Learn more about the customer’s needs and build trust. Develop rapport to enhance the customer experience so they’re compelled to feel committed to the salesperson and dealership.
Train to ask for an appointment. The goal is to convert the caller into a shopper, then a buyer. Dealership staff need to ask for the first commitment - an appointment date and time. Anything less than asking for an appointment from a lead equates to turning them away at the door.