Consumers are increasingly contacting dealerships out of normal business hours with 33% of sales calls now made when showrooms have closed for business.
According to new research from Motors.co.uk based on analysis of 500 sales calls - 68% of sales calls were answered in normal business hours.
In addition, Motors.co.uk has also monitored call patterns for unanswered calls, with 61% of unanswered calls never calling back.
Andy Coulthurst, managing director of Motors.co.uk and former group sales director at JCT600, said: “The modern consumer is empowered.
"They know their rights and how to search around when customer service is not up to scratch and response times are not quick enough. With people increasingly sending enquiries out of hours and from mobile devices, it is important to build the channels with which to respond effectively. But, it isn’t enough to invest in modern communications technology; you have to know how to use it as well.”
In another study, Motors.co.uk sent 100 emails to a random selection of dealers around the UK. The ‘secret shopper’ emails revealed that a quarter of dealers managed to reply within just four hours, with 9% setting a precedent for good customer service by responding to sales enquiries out of hours. However, less than half replied within 24 hours of the initial enquiry, allowing potential leads to go cold.
A startling 53% did not respond at all, stunting the extent to which dealers can capitalise on sales enquiries. Coulthurst believes as a result of missing those enquiries, the total value of missed potential sales reached almost half a million pounds.
Google has also released research as part of its October Gearshift report highlighting that 64% of UK car buyers have selected another dealer, model, or brand as a result of receiving an inadequate response to an online request. This reaffirms the importance of an instant or timely reply to any enquiry a dealer receives.
Coulthurst said: “Many motor traders are already focused on customer service, delivering training to their customer-facing team, auditing their enquiry handling and introducing contact centres where appropriate.
"However, the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity for the motor industry over the coming months will be creating a culture which puts the customer at the heart of the process. This might mean operating out of hours, introducing new channels through which to communicate and investing in the latest technology. But, most importantly, it involves understanding that the customer enquiry is the most valuable asset a dealership can have; nurture it and you generate a sale, ignore it and you lose out.”