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Dealers have multiple strategies for connecting customers with in-demand cars.

Educating Customers With Transparent Lead Responses

Dealers need to discuss shifting lead responses.

There’s a lot of talk about the end of the chip crisis, but the truth is no one knows with certainty when dealer lots will be flush with inventory again. The reality of today’s market is slumping retail sales and skyrocketing vehicle orders. Is your dealership dealing with reality or stuck in the past?

Are your employees able to explain the lack of inventory with help from lead-response technology solutions? Are they prepared to detail the vehicle ordering process? Can they answer vehicle questions even if vehicles aren’t in the lot? If you want to nurture leads so they become sales, a hard look at the customer experience via phone, chat, text and email may be in order.

It’s time to embrace radical transparency and shift new-car lead responses to cater to today’s current inventory shortages and customer expectations. Ghost shop your own store with a focus on the following:

AI-Powered Chat: Customers increasingly use AI-powered chat to communicate with dealerships (likely because the explosion of email spam has many wary of revealing email addresses). Evaluate the experience your customers receive by submitting your own inquiry. Are your questions answered? What happens when you inquire about a vehicle that’s not on your lot?

In my experience, most AI-powered chat tools aren’t able to answer specific questions or ask for an email address to send further details. Customers want answers; they’re not looking for email conversations. If the tool cannot answer customer questions, it’s appropriate for the chat function to tell the customer that a “product expert” will answer that question and have a salesperson or BDC agent take over.

A glaring omission I often see is for chat to offer no information about “in-demand” vehicles and the ordering process. There’s no reason to avoid this conversation when record numbers of customers are ready and willing to order a vehicle. The chat tool’s functionality should check inventory, see if there are any of the desired make/model on the lot, and respond to the customer with details on how the dealership can help them order “in-demand” vehicles. This sets the stage for a BDC agent or salesperson to step in and explain the situation and how easy it is to order that “perfect” vehicle.

Live Chat: Live chat services allow customers to “speak” directly with representatives of your dealership. Whether you have agents in-house or use an outsourced BDC, you need to be sure everyone understands how to answer customer questions. Today’s customer expects no less. Agents should have your store’s policy on ordering vehicles, information about how long it takes for a vehicle to hit the ground and deposit details. Coach agents to respond positively about in-demand vehicles and the dealership's capacity to go above and beyond to get customers into vehicles. 

Amanda Acio headshot (002).jpegTexting Skills: Texting is fast and convenient, so it’s likely you’ll see an increasing number of customers’ texts for vehicle information. If you provide your employees with text templates, take some time to update them for today’s market. Include brief language about the new-vehicle inventory shortage and how your dealership can help them order the exact vehicle they want. Keep messages short and relevant. Video also works very well in a text. Craft a few quick talking points for employees and encourage them to create short (no longer than one minute) videos to send to customers.

Message Monitoring: Measuring your communications is critical so you can do more of what makes you money. KPIs to monitor include response time, the number of chats and texts, missed chats, average chat duration and conversion rate. You can track activity with the reporting in your CRM and/or through automotive-focused vendors such as CallRevu and Car Wars. You can also integrate communication channels with Google Analytics.

Inventory levels will return, but no Magic 8-Ball can tell us when. The best strategy for today is to shift lead responses toward radical transparency. Explain the inventory shortages, detail how customers can order vehicles and answer every question. That’s how to win in today’s market.

Amanda Acio (pictured, above left) is vice president of Universal Products at Elead/CDK Global.


 [DN1]Jim – is this ok? Tech solutions don’t really explain but wasn’t sure how to fix this – I tried.

TAGS: Retail
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