Mystery Shopping Insights to Win Customers Over the Phone

Only 28% of dealership representatives showed appreciation for the customer's interest in their vehicles or services. This is a missed opportunity to make the customer feel valued and respected.

Tiffany Peeler

September 27, 2023

4 Min Read
Car salesperson on phone (Getty)
Dealers can leverage effective phone skills for rewarding results.Getty Images

With the rise of digital communication, phone interactions have become a critical touchpoint in the customer journey. However, it’s challenging to effectively address customer issues over the phone.

This is where the insights from a mystery shopping study by Proactive Dealer Solutions come into play. The study analyzed over 1,000 phone calls to automotive dealerships and revealed ways to enhance phone-based customer service and drive success in your dealership.  

Mystery Shopping Data: A Snapshot

Here are some highlights from the study:

  • 28% of dealership representatives showed appreciation toward the customer for their interest.

  • Only 5% acknowledged the steps the customer completed online using a digital platform.

  • 19% accessed the customer’s profile that the customer set up independently before calling the dealership.

  • 56% offered recommendations for the next steps based on the customer’s stated goal.

  • A mere 2% reiterated the value of using a digital platform to the customer.

  • 65% provided a positive statement when ending the call.

These numbers reveal some significant opportunities for improvement. Read on to learn how you can leverage these insights to win more customers over the phone.

Show Appreciation

Only 28% of the dealership representatives showed appreciation for the customer’s interest in their vehicles or services. This is a missed opportunity to make the customer feel valued and respected. Train your staff to express gratitude and enthusiasm when they answer the phone. They can say something like:

  • “Thank you for calling ABC Motors. We appreciate your interest in our vehicles.”

Leverage Digital Tools

Online customer activity is a goldmine of valuable insights. Yet, the mystery shopping study showed that only 19% of representatives accessed the customer’s profile.

If a customer goes through the exercise of setting up a profile and completing steps online, representatives should acknowledge that information so that the customer knows the steps they completed weren’t a waste of time. It also demonstrates to the customer that the dealership values their time and is committed to providing a seamless customer experience.

Training should focus on familiarizing representatives with the digital platform and equipping them with the skills to guide customers through it. For example, they can say something like:

  • “I see that you’ve already browsed our inventory and selected a few models that interest you.”

Reiterate the Value of Online Tools

Online tools can greatly enhance the customer experience. However, these tools only add value if customers understand their benefits and how to use them.

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The study showed that only 2% of representatives reiterated the value of using the digital platform to the customer. This is a missed opportunity. By explaining the benefits of online tools and guiding customers on how to use them, representatives can empower customers to take control of their purchasing journey. This not only improves the customer experience but also frees up representatives to focus on more complex customer inquiries.

To reiterate the value of using the digital platform, representatives can:

  • Remind customers of how easy and fast it is to use the digital platform for their car-buying journey.

  • Highlight how they can save time by using the digital platform for various steps, such as selecting a vehicle, reviewing terms, and applying for financing.

Offer Alternative Solutions

The study revealed that 56% of representatives offered next-step recommendations based on the customer’s stated goal. While this is a positive finding, there’s room for improvement. Representatives should be trained to offer multiple solutions to accommodate customer preferences. For instance, if a customer is interested in a particular vehicle, the representative could suggest similar models, discuss financing options, or even propose a test drive appointment. This shows you are listening, understanding, and providing value.

To offer recommendations effectively, representatives can:

  • Ask open-ended questions to uncover needs, challenges, preferences, and expectations.

  • Ask for customer feedback and address any objections or concerns.

Leave a Lasting Impression

The end of a call is the final impression you leave with your customer and a bridge to future interactions. The study showed that 65% of representatives ended the call with a positive statement, which is a great start. However, there’s more to a memorable sign-off than a cheerful goodbye. An effective sign-off should:

  • Summarize the conversation: A quick recap of the call’s key points helps ensure both parties are on the same page.

  • Confirm next steps: Clarity is key when it comes to the next steps. Confirm the plan of action to set clear expectations.

  • Express gratitude: A simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way in demonstrating respect and appreciation. 

  • Show enthusiasm and confidence: Your attitude can be contagious. Expressing enthusiasm about the customer’s choices and confidence in the solutions you’ve provided can help instill the same feelings in the customer.

  • Extend an open invitation: Encourage the customer to reach out if they have any further questions or concerns. This shows you’re there to support them, even after the call ends.

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Tiffany Peeler headshot CROPPED_0

In the fast-paced world of automotive sales, phone-based customer service is a key differentiator. By leveraging data from the Proactive Dealer Solutions mystery shopping study, you can identify areas for improvement, provide targeted training and enhance customer service. Using data-driven insights can drive success and create exceptional customer experiences over the phone.

Tiffany Peeler (pictured, left) is vice president of sales and operations at Proactive Dealer Solutions, a provider of training, software and BDC solutions for the automotive industry.

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