When potential customers call your dealership, you always want them to have the best experience possible. But for many reasons, it’s not always possible for employees to provide the level of service that customers expect.
The challenge for dealers is to identify which parts of the phone handling process are breaking down, so they can make the necessary adjustments for improvement. The best way to accomplish this is to regularly review the reports provided by your call monitoring and analytics partner.
These reports contain many metrics that can be used to improve those all-important, first interactions between customers and your dealership employees. Here are a few examples.
Answer Call Rate
This metric measures the number of calls answered by a person (not an interactive voice response phone system prompt or a voicemail box) and results in a conversation. Not answering calls is — by far — the top problem we see in dealerships. When calls don’t get answered, the result is zero opportunities.
With visibility into this key metric, the first question to ask is if it can be further broken down to identify where the problem lies. It is essential to understand if callers are getting routed to voicemail, if they are leaving voicemails or if the customer abandons the call while waiting. In all cases, the speed of callbacks is essential to capture these leads.
Today, the volume of calls into dealerships is higher than ever, especially in service departments. Sometimes employees are just too busy to answer the phone. If this is the case, consider hiring additional resources, contracting with a virtual BDC or shifting worker duties to answer phones during the busiest inbound time blocks.
Appointment Set Rate
Appointment Set Rate is another key metric that measures the number of inbound calls that reach someone in the sales department and are converted into appointments. This percentage should be at 80% or higher. If a benchmark isn’t being met, finding out why is essential.
With limited staff and high call volume, this percentage can drop. If this happens, consider hiring part-time staff or a call center to help field sales calls during busy times.
In the last few years, inventory inquiry calls have been the biggest contributor to decreased appointment set rate percentages. Inventory inquiry calls can get tedious for salespeople, especially when popular models are in scarce supply. However, it’s important to remember that every inquiry is a potential lead, and some of these leads can be converted into sales. Make sure to monitor your sales team’s responses to inventory inquiry calls. Train them on how to build rapport, enter leads into the CRM, offer alternate choices and keep these leads in the pipeline.
Status Check Calls
Nothing is more frustrating to customers than not knowing the status of their vehicle when it’s in for service. But with service departments busier than ever, customers in the service lane take priority over a customer on the phone. When your customers are not being taken care of, a new process may need to be developed.
Some dealers have tried automated text notifications, but the downside to some of these solutions is that customers can become overwhelmed or confused with too many texts.
One solution that has helped improve this metric is when dealers train service advisors to proactively communicate with technicians and customers when nobody is in the service drive. If an advisor finds themselves with 10 minutes of downtime, that is the perfect time to check on the status of vehicles and reach out to customers.
The responsibility here lies with the service advisor, not the technicians, whose priority is fixing vehicles. Yes, it is frustrating when a service advisor finds out that a vehicle has been ready for hours and has yet to be told. But this is all the more reason why they need to embrace the responsibility and proactively do vehicle status checks, which can significantly reduce inbound status check calls.
Call analytics is a helpful tool for improving the phone handling process at dealerships. These are just a few examples of how monitoring metrics can provide insight into what needs fixing and how to fix it. Ultimately, it all comes down to process, training and accountability.