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AM Digital Dealer Conference: Overcome the first call pitfall

Sophisticated analysis reveals that the initial contact experience after a consumer has identified their top prospective used car to be the most crucial point in the car-buyer’s journey, according to RAC Cars managing director Peter McCullough.

McCullough will tell delegates at AM’s Digital Dealer Conference, which takes place at The Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire on September 4, it is at this point a dealer’s call handling and customer service skills will either ensure the car-buyer progresses through the buying cycle or send him or her back to search for another car or another dealer.

Leading a workshop, McCullough will show dealers how to better manage the process to maximise the chance of a browser becoming a buyer as well as providing a fascinating insight into consumer online behaviour revealed through its extensive tracking abilities.

He said: “When customers use a classified portal, they have not made up their mind about the car they want to buy so it is a very different online experience to that which dealers see on their group and manufacturer websites and the ways in which dealers approach them will affect results.

"The temptation is to assume that by driving more volume, you drive more leads which will eventually translate into sales but this is an increasingly expensive strategy.”

Not surprisingly, when it comes to understanding online buying behaviour, it starts with the website itself, which has to deliver to a high standard on mobile.

McCullough added: “The online experience has to be fast and effective, especially on smaller mobile screens, which inevitably takes us into the debate of apps versus responsive design. Apps work for brands and will be popular among loyal customers but are unlikely to be attractive to people who are using a number of different classified portals to locate their next used car.

"Many websites are still focusing unduly on a big desktop experience when, in fact, consumers are migrating to mobile at a phenomenal rate. Logically, if someone is browsing on their mobile, they are not likely to fill in an email enquiry form but will use their phone to make a call.

“Most portal websites cannot link online journeys of consumers to calls, so do not know which PPC campaign generated call enquiries. However, we know who called and which car they enquired about and we are the only people in the trade with that level of functionality.

“We also track our website users’ feedback and we have identified the very first customer contact with a dealer as the most crucial in the buying process. If dealers fail to impress at this point, the customer simply returns to our website, selects another vehicle and makes a new enquiry with another dealer.

“That first telephone call is absolutely crucial and we have found it to be a real moment of truth. All too often the level of customer service at this point is so poor, the prospective buyer then makes the decision to take their custom elsewhere.”

McCullough will offer a number of insights into the online behaviour of the franchised used car buyer from its unique perspective as RAC Cars advertises half of the nation’s franchised used car stock.

Tickets are available to dealers and manufacturers, to book, please contact Emma-Louise Kinnaird on 01733 395133 or email  or visit 

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