Dealers should be contacting potential customers by email instead of using the phone outside of traditional working hours, according to new research from Dealerweb.
The enquiry management software provider surveyed 1,200 motorists, revealing that while a phone call was the preferred communication method between 9am and 5pm, two-thirds prefer email contact outside of those times.
Dealerweb says the findings highlight the need for a nuanced approach to how dealers manage enquiries, recognising changing consumer buying habits and expectations.
Dealerweb enquiry data shows the number of customer enquiries from all sources, across new and used cars, has declined by 5.4% (January to August 2018 vs. 2017), mirroring the dip in new car registrations reported by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
However, the number of digital enquiries placed with UK dealers has grown by 4.2% over the same period, with used cars in particular seeing a major increase in online interest from consumers (+19.1% year-on-year).
Martin Hill, managing director at Dealerweb, said: “As customers make increasing numbers of enquiries online, the onus is on dealers to respond in a timely manner – through the preferred communication channel and with relevant information.
"Ideally, dealers will capture communications preferences at the point of enquiry so they can respond accordingly, smoothing the lead management process and optimising chances of successful conversion.
"By adopting greater flexibility in how they respond to customer enquiries, dealers will ensure they make the most of every sales opportunity.”
Dealerweb React is a multi-platform software specifically designed to improve dealers’ ability to respond quickly and effectively to customers’ online enquiries – from desktop or smartphone.
It enables sales staff to react instantly to web leads with professional responses tailored to the prospect’s enquiry, either from their desk or via a smartphone app (iOS and Android compatible).
React is available as a standalone software solution, while existing Dealerweb customers can synchronise React seamlessly with their existing enquiry management system.