After all the technological advancements with handling internet leads, the auto industry is still far from perfect when it comes to handling inbound phone leads. According to CallSource and IHS/Polk research, 84 percent of consumers purchase vehicles from a different dealership than the one they originally called.
This same statistic holds true when it comes to automotive service. There are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to phone call handling, but it all boils down to showing the caller that you care, that you are capable of repairing their vehicle, and that you are willing to be attentive to their unique needs.
The point of this article is to show you that improving your inbound service call handling is really about common sense. Answer the phone. Gather information. Make an appointment and don’t drop the ball along the way.
Answer the Phone
The first step in handling service calls is so simple it is almost stupid: Answer the phone. It is unbelievable how many phone calls go unanswered in most dealership service departments. Customers expect to talk with a live human being, and they don’t want to be stuck in auto-dialer limbo trying to get a live person.
As previously mentioned, If you a customer doesn’t get a live human in a reasonable amount of time, they will simply call the next dealer and move on.
You can solve this problem with a dedicated inbound call team. You can hire staff specifically for this task, or assign existing staff on a shift rotation that places dedicated personnel on the phones at all times. Service advisors are busy and shouldn’t be expected to answer incoming calls. Customers also don’t like waiting on hold while an advisor is located.
With a dedicated team to answer calls, you can ensure that all calls get answered, and customers get the attention they need.
Digital Dealer BDC Data shows that 97 percent of callers will give information about themselves or their experience over the phone. At the very least, your inbound call team should be able to get their name, email address and phone number (preferably two phone numbers). It generally takes an average of four attempts to get a customer on the phone. With one phone number, there is a 67 percent contact ratio, and with two phone numbers that rises to an 80 percent contact ratio.
Don’t just get contact information either. Listen to the customer. Take notes. Put the notes in your CRM. Understand why they have called and how you can help. Look at each phone call as a job interview. The customer is testing your dealership to see if they can trust you with their vehicle. If you listen well and demonstrate an understanding of their needs, they will be less likely to hang up and go somewhere else.
Book the Appointment
Don’t forget the most important step in the inbound service call process. Book the appointment. Most service calls are customers looking for service. If you can answer their questions and earn their trust, then asking for an appointment should be easy.
Unfortunately, not all dealer’s train their call handlers to ask for the appointment.
Your dealership can be different. Book the appointment and close the deal. With this in mind, your inbound service call handlers should be good at sales tactics aimed at setting an appointment with the customer.
Don’t Drop the Ball!!!
Last but not least, don’t drop the ball. If you make promises, deliver on them. If you put someone on hold, don’t leave them there very long. If you transfer a call, make sure there is someone on the other end to answer. That customer isn’t likely to call back in a second time of they aren’t handled appropriately the first time.