As CSI scores continue to rise, it’s even tougher for your dealership to stand out. One overlooked way to improve your scores -- and reap the benefits from manufacturers -- is to proactively manage communication with your customers.
It’s still the voice channel
The number one way new and existing customers are contacting your dealership is still by phone. In fact,
JD Powers reports that 73% of customers still call the dealership to book a service appointment rather than using the Internet or any other means.
Speed and responsiveness are incredibly important in sales, so you need to make sure your sales and service teams call back customers pronto. Inside Sales’ annual Lead Response survey
In my 16 years as a communications consultant, I’ve often heard managers say that their sales team doesn’t allow calls to go to voice mail and they answer every call in a timely fashion. However, the statistics show that’s not true. On average, 80% of all business calls go unanswered and end up in voice mail. The only way to fix that is better call management.
Measure to manage
To ensure your team is answering calls quickly and reliably, you need the statistics at hand. Do you have a call report showing abandoned calls (calls that weren’t answered and didn’t leave a voice mail message) and calls to voice mail? Without such a report, how do you know your team is answering voice calls effectively? Reporting is critical to knowing how well your team is answering customer calls and returning missed calls.
Timely response to voice mail
Let’s look first at voice mails that aren’t being returned. CBS reports that only 33% of business people even listen to their voice mail, much less return calls in a timely fashion. Your team can’t always answer calls when they’re out on the lot or with a customer, but you can make sure they are returning calls and doing so as quickly as possible.
First you need visibility into mailboxes. Whether you have individual employee mailboxes or calls go to departmental mailboxes, you should be able to easily glance at a list of mailboxes and see any messages that are unheard. A great tool for visibility is Vertical’s ViewPoint software, which allows you to share and view mailboxes across everyone in the organization. Make sure to advertise this visibility to your team so they know you are using it as a tool to monitor responsiveness. Just knowing that you can see if calls have been listened to is a huge motivator.
It’s a terrible waste of your sales manager’s time, however, to always be watching a display. This is where automation can help. You can create escalation rules on voice mails that specify a response time. Say, for instance, if no one has listened to a voice mail in X number of minutes (we recommend 30), then an alert can be sent to the rest of the sales team and then the manager (even up to the General Manager, if needed) to make sure that call gets a response. Imagine for a moment that a sales person risks losing a hot lead to another member of their team if they don’t respond to voice mail quickly. That will motivate someone, too!
With ViewPoint Mobile from Vertical, your sales people don’t even have to be at their desk to check voice mail. Messages show up right on their mobile phone, so they can listen and respond to them while walking across the lot or wherever they are with a single click. So there’s no excuse for not following up.
Next step: Abandoned calls
Managing voice mails is the first step, but you can go even further. Many people today don’t even leave a message. They just call and hang up. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a viable prospect. Whether it’s a call to your sales team asking for more information, or a call to your service team trying to set up a service appointment, you need to call that customer back to make sure they’re taken care of.
The first thing is to make sure everyone knows there was a call. With a mobile application like ViewPoint Mobile, your team gets notified of missed calls on their smartphone, so they can call the number right back before the customer has an opportunity to call the dealer down the street.
An abandoned call should be followed up on just like a voice mail. A Vertical communications platform, for example, will allow you to set escalation rules for abandoned calls so you aren’t depending on just one person for timely responses. Rules can be set to notify other team members by e-mail or text that there is an abandoned call that needs to be returned.
Finally, each morning, be sure to check on abandoned calls you may have received the night before after hours after hours. By running an abandoned calls report each morning, you can spend a few minutes calling everyone back and identifying new business. With Vertical’s ViewPoint, all it takes is a simple click to call missed numbers in the abandoned calls report. Auto dealers we work with report that, on average, 10% of such calls they make each day generate new sales!
Improved call handling = more new customers
If you use the right technology to begin managing missed calls and voice mails, the impact on your business can be dramatic. CSO Insights reports that building a mature management process to guarantee handling of these inbound calls will result in a 9.3% improvement in sales quota achievement. With real-time visibility into voice mails and the ability to mine missed calls for potential prospects and business, you’ll improve CSI scores and create new revenue streams for your sales and service departments.
How many calls – and new customers – are you missing? Call Vertical for more information on how you can quickly improve your call handling and ensure existing customers keep calling you for service.