Cambria Automobiles marketing director Ian Godbold said: “We are currently receiving 200-plus live chats daily, with a high level of activity between 7pm and 10pm. Quite simply, customers do not want to wait for an email response and we receive numerous testimonials that they were amazed someone was available out of hours.”
Ridgeway Group’s experience is equally compelling. From late 2010 until the end of 2013, it held nearly 34,000 conversations, which resulted in more than 9,000 leads.
Philip Deacon, group marketing manager, said its live chat facility was “now a seven-day-a-week, 80-hour facility. We learned about the value of live chat from the start, adapting our style as we became more experienced, and how to convert a chat to a sales lead. All conversations are analysed to see where improvements can be made.”
The rise of the independent review
There’s consensus, too, in the value and growing popularity of online customer reviews. Consumers want transparency about their buying choices, whether manufacturer or dealer-orientated and they increasingly look for what others are saying.
There’s nothing wrong with dealers or manufacturers inviting their own customer feedback and publishing the results, but real credibility can come only from using an independent, fully moderated service, such as Reevoo or JudgeService.
Reevoo chief marketing officer Peter Simpson said there was real progress in this area and the motor industry was taking to online reviews well.
”We are getting excellent results and every one is a qualified contact. At around 40% response (retail sector 15%), we are confident that this represents a valid, reliable cross-section and not just the extremes of very satisfied/unsatisfied.
“Kia is leading the way, not only in tracking every bit of data that we generate, but in how it parades the results. By incorporating the scores in advertising, showrooms and as part of the sales process, it is reaping tangible success.
“Our work with Vauxhall, Mazda, Volvo and Hyundai suggests that we are heading towards the point where independent reviews will be a must-have facility before too long.”
The benefits of customer reviews also extend to dealership initiatives. As one of the 20 or so retailers to sign up with Reevoo, Jardine Motors uses its customer data as part of its management information dashboard presentations.
Simpson said the data and feedback provides manufacturers and dealers with the opportunity to use social media channels to promote successes and respond to any negative situations.