Best Practices For Internet Success

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Kevin Root - Also by this author

If you’re looking to dramatically improve the return on your e-business investment and exceed customer expectations, our expert trainers recommend that you implement the following best practices immediately.

When responding to Internet leads:

  • Respond to the Internet shopper in the way they have requested:

Internet customers are often specific about how they want to be contacted by the dealership. If the customer requests that the dealership contact them via e-mail, respect that request by sending an e-mail answering questions and suggesting dialog be furthered on the phone. We know that most Internet sales are negotiated over the phone rather than via e-mail, but pushing the Internet shopper to the phone too quickly may backfire.

  • Be responsive to the Internet shopper:

Critical to winning customers’ business is to show that the dealership cares about the relationship they are developing. One very important way to demonstrate this is to respond to the customer quickly. Responding within one hour has been shown to dramatically increase average closing ratios in dealerships that have established processes to achieve this. When considering this, keep in mind that the customer expects a response that is specific to their request – not simply a generic auto response. Auto responses can be a helpful tool if used appropriately as an initial confirmation of receipt of the customer’s request or an after hours message to the customer. Too often, auto responses are over used and even relied upon as the initial response for all leads received at the dealership.

  • Improve the quality of your responses to Internet shoppers:

While responding in a timely manner is critical to starting the business dialog between the dealer and the customer, it is equally important to understand and improve the quality of what the dealership says in their response. There are three main elements in a “quality” response:

  1. The customer’s inquiry is answered completely – this is usually a price or availability question.
  2. A value proposition is offered – this should be a short list of things that differentiate the responding dealership and provide a “no-cost” benefit to the Internet shopper.
  3. Next steps are suggested – this is a proactive way for the responding dealership to explain their Internet sales process and prepare the Internet shopper for a follow-up phone call.
  • Personalize your responses to Internet shoppers:

Internet shoppers need to know to whom they are talking and how to contact them. Providing sufficient contact information so the shopper can take the next step is both professional and necessary to move the business relationship forward. Often, dealerships forget that Internet shoppers query multiple dealerships for information. Forgetting to include the name of the dealership in the response can lead to shopper confusion about who is responding. Dealership contact information is usually placed at the end of the e-mail in what is known as a “signature file.” The signature file should contain:

  • Sales / Service / Parts / Finance person’s name
  • Dealership name
  • Phone number
  • e-mail address
  • Dealership Web site URL

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