The digital channel offers your business tremendous opportunities to reach out, attract, engage with, and even sell to a broader audience than you ever thought possible. Convenient communication methods that you provide to help audiences get in touch with you ― such as chat, text, online forms, email, or click to call functions ― give you the opportunity to foster instant connections and build positive perceptions with folks whose smartphones are always within reach. It’s a 24/7 world, and that means the customer experience never sleeps. This is especially true if your business has an e-commerce component, like many automotive dealerships now offer.
How well are you servicing and selling through your online channel? Are you keeping on top of online messages that are coming in? You may be surprised at the volume of chats, texts, and messages your digital assets are generating. Google Analytics can provide you with visibility as to who is contacting you, when they’re contacting you, and how they’re reaching out. Add these reports to your dashboard and stay on top of what’s coming in.
We’re living in a high expectations marketplace that is consumer driven to the core. Exceed their expectations, and you’re on your way to solidifying a rewarding relationship built around proof of/trust with your ability to deliver exceptional service and customer success. Below are a few tips to help you do just that.
E-Commerce in the Automotive Dealer Space
According to results from a 2018 dealer mystery shop study published in AutoRemarketing magazine, dealerships that responded to online leads within ten minutes of receipt were three times more likely to experience visits to their dealership. As inventory visibility and buy online capabilities rapidly deploy across U.S. auto dealership and OEM sites, it is safe to say that perceptions formed by your online visitors around their online experiences will influence business outcomes ― no matter if they’re reaching out to you via forms, chats, texts, calls, or emails.
What Does Today’s Customer Service Model Look Like?
Perhaps it can be summed up like this: access, response time, and flexibility. Consumers want ready access to you and what you offer. They want access to information and answers that help them along their journey towards making a right decision. As they conduct their due diligence and pass through the discovery phase toward commitment, they’ll be looking for alignment with a partner who shares their values, goals, and preferences around doing business. And with today’s car buyers, in-person or face-to-face contact is not necessarily the preferred approach. You’ll win hearts and minds by being accessible, responsive, and easy to do business with online, too.
Leverage Google Analytics to Watch Engagement Volumes
You can set up a dashboard in Google Analytics to provide you with a timely view of the online inquiries, requests, and sales activity you’re generating. You may want to also create an internal log or report for your team to fill out that shows you when these inquiries were followed up on and what the outcomes were.
Put a Response Plan in Place
Understanding consumer expectations when it comes to appropriate response times is key. Various studies you’ll find on the internet suggest that text message inquiries should be followed up within 90 seconds of receiving them; email follow-ups should be completed within an hour after receipt. Set a benchmark for responding across each inquiry method and stick to it. Consistency is a big component of effective brand building and brand management.
Brace Yourself for the Weekend Avalanche
Most businesses, whether they’re open or closed for business on the weekends, discover that online inquiries, submissions, or sales often spike during the weekend ― perhaps it’s due to the fact that consumers have more free time and prefer to shop during their downtime. Keep that follow-up moving forward and be ready on Monday to respond to what may be a heavier load of inquiries, requests, or sales.
Set Up Automated Responses for Off-Hours Interactions
Whether someone contacts you after normal business hours or during peak periods when you cannot follow up as quickly as you’d like, an automated response thanking them for their inquiry and providing helpful information can go a long way towards building positive relationships. A prompt acknowledgment of their communication is a welcome response and an opportunity to deliver service that aids them while they wait for your call.
Resolve Complaints Posted to the BBB ― ASAP
Most business owners understand how valuable a high rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) can be. In the digital era, protecting that rating also means staying on top of online messages or complaints consumers submit to the BBB regarding your business. When a consumer posts a comment or complaint on the BBB site, you need to respond to that comment or complaint within a very short window ― otherwise, the BBB may downgrade your rating. The BBB is looking at response time and resolution of the issue to gauge your success.
Who in your organization checks on and responds to user-generated content at your firm? Make sure they’re regularly reviewing your BBB page as well as other digital assets or social networks to ensure that comments or complaints are acted upon in a timely manner.
No matter where a negative comment or complaint about you or your company is posted ― Facebook, Yelp, or Twitter ― you should always respond to the post to acknowledge their concerns publicly and help resolve the issue. You may want to reach out to the individual privately, if possible, with a name or number of a senior-level person who they can speak with directly and receive high-touch service. ALWAYS ask them to remove the negative comment once the issue is resolved. More often than not, people are embarrassed by their public rant and are happy to remove it.
Bottom Line: It’s About Relationship Management and Protecting Your Brand
You’ve worked hard to build your business and your business’ reputation in the local community(ies) you serve. As more consumers find you, the job of building and maintaining positive perceptions and relationships grows. Aronson Advertising has been at the forefront of helping automotive dealerships succeed in the digital space. Talk to us about how we can help you. Give us a call at (847) 297-1700.