The automotive Internet Department, Part 2: The internal struggle to effectively handle leads
This is the second in a two-part series on how big data will change the future of the automotive Internet business. The first part, “The automotive Internet Department: How it started and failed, and how big data gave us insight into the future path to success,” can be found here
Imagine this email exchange:
Big Hotel Chain (to recent hotel guest)
“Thank you for your recent stay, we would like to get your feedback on how quickly the Valet approached your car when you pulled up? Did he/she meet your expectations?”
“Yes, she was prompt but I would like to tell you about the front desk issues”
Big Hotel Chain
“Thank you for your response but we are only interested in your first impression with the first person you saw at our hotel”
“But we also had an issue with the room, don’t you want to hear about that?”
Big Hotel Chain
“Thank you for your feedback but we are judged by the first 5 minutes of interaction at the very first part of your stay”
“Well I never got the stay I wanted or expected, no one took care of me and in the future we will stay somewhere else”
Big Hotel Chain
“Thank you for your positive feedback we look forward to your next stay”
This exchange at first glance looks ludicrous, but it effectively plays itself out every day in dealerships across the county. Technology (read CRM’s) have allowed us to be blinded and secure in the notion that our interactions are completely satisfying our leads’ requests. But getting there first does not solve getting there right.
Companies like Travelocity, eBay and Yelp helped solve the issue of doing business with a company we had no prior dealings with. Feedback allowed us to comfortably do business based on reviews from complete strangers. Of course customer reviews are utilized by the automotive industry and the automotive industry also measures “Customer” satisfaction with the CSI score but misses the bigger piece of the internet puzzle. Dealerships who proudly boast and post their CSI score and meet the manufacturers Stop the Clock measurement can suffer from an overconfidence that all things are working great. But what is the lead’s perception of your internet department during the sales process? That is the real question that needs to be answered. Leads that interact and do not buy represent a larger percentage than leads that buy. This feedback is invaluable to learn what processes need addressing and changed.
Stop the Clock simply represents the wrong measurement today. In the past it was all that was available to measure process implementation – getting to the lead quickly was paramount. But that measurement has been eclipsed in an industry that is behind in technology processes and analytics.
If you read the first part of this 2 part blog you read that progressive dealers are changing the way they measure the Internet Department’s success. Close rates are no longer the best measurement to employ when plotting how to grow a business; rather the number of opportunities created are, because lead engagement is now the most effective way to grow an internet business and, therefore, a dealership’s sales. Moreover, dealers must also deal with the inherent way we have measured our processes’ efficiency. Our CRM gives us the green light and shows that all is well, and we get lulled into a false sense of success. But this actually represents a gaping hole right in the middle of a well-run Internet Department’s processes.
Anyone leveraging Conversica’s artificial intelligence can very simply witness this. One of Conversica’s functions is to poll leads two days after they’ve furnished all the required information, and ask a very simple question – did you get what you need? Yet after reviewing millions of such interactions, we observed that 27% responded that they either were never contacted or did not receive the information requested. How is it possible, that a dealer with a 98% CSI score and rewarded by the manufacturer for hitting the Stop the Clock standards, can have 27% of their leads dissatisfied with their Internet sales process? And this is if you are average! How many sales are lost in between these two percentages?
The answer is simple. You don’t know what you don’t know and have never measured.
That is why the most progressive dealers are now employing software like Conversica or implementing manual processes to measure outside of their CRM, to get direct feedback and be able to overcome deal-killing issues like:
- Spam filters
- Individual Salesperson training regarding how to handle Internet leads
- Lead distribution issues due to turnover and employees work schedule
- Lead handling and follow up challenges associated with passing off appointments
Of those 27% negative responses, most if not all were shown to be marked completed in the CRM tool. This misalignment is a substantial issue that must be solved if you are to grow your business. Do not be satisfied with simply meeting the manufacture’s minimum of “Stop the Clock”; instead examine every part of your internet leads’ interaction with your department. Dealers who lower their negative feedback score from the 27% average see a substantial improvement in opportunities which – you should now be convinced – leads to more appointments and more sales. Conversica’s innocuous questions illicit responses equivalent to feedback, and Internet Managers should use this as the CSI of their processes and leverage it to fix the problem.
After reading parts 1 and 2 of this series, you may think this is too much or overwhelming to implement. But I hope you will take heart when I tell you that Conversica can do this for you without breaking a sweat. Contact me and I’ll be happy to explain how!
But even those uninterested in automation would be well-advised to take the following manual steps:
- Work on more opportunities instead of worrying about close rates
- Evaluate each lead provider for their Effective Lead Cost and make a determination on the real value
- Set up a way to get real feedback from leads in the sweet spot – the spot between the Stop the Clock and the CSI score after the sale. Not via your CRM, but off it to understand what you don’t know about how leads think about your processes and your true spam issues.
One more thing. Outside the automotive industry others have already figured this all out. For example read the following and think about where you are in your Internet Process:
Marketo Inc. makes marketing automation software for businesses. Marketo was ranked 78th on the Inc. 500, #7 among software companies, and #1 among marketing software companies. In 2013 they released a paper that said – wait for it – that open rates and deliverability are not as important as engagement rates.
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