Here’s a simple, but important truth: Your customer service experience starts the moment someone picks up the phone and dials your dealership. Sure, they browsed your awesome website. Yes, they saw your fun commercials. Yes, they received a fancy mailer. All are great but wither in comparison to a phone call. Why?

The ringing phone represents a do-or-die moment for your dealership’s Sales and Service departments. As humans, we are impatient and easily distracted. We want easy and fast and now. Friction isn’t just annoying. It’s detrimental. Shoppers are looking for any possible reason to eliminate you from the buying process. A bad customer phone experience makes that decision easy.caller

On the flip side, customers who feel taken care of and who have a friendly, fast phone experience are more likely to go the next step. These callers set an appointment and actually show. They buy from you and tell their friends. It all starts with that first phone conversation.

Consider implementing the following six effective and widely used phone routing techniques to boost your odds of success. Your dealership is different from ABC dealership down the street, so find the solution that best works for you.

Bridges, Multi-Rings and Roll-Overs

The start to a healthy customer experience is directly correlated with connecting callers to someone who can actually help. Sounds easy, right? Not really. It’s actually a huge challenge for dealers.

My company, Car Wars, has found that callers who aren’t connected within 30 seconds are likely to grow impatient and hang up. What do they do next? They call the dealer down the street. Yikes.

The good news is that a bridge (also called a phone tree or IVR) results in a quicker connection time for callers. The simple “Press 1 for Service and press 2 for Sales” allows callers to effectively reach their destination. This means more true connections to agents who can actually handle questions and take care of callers.

A bridge is also a great way to ensure managers can easily access the most critical calls: Sales calls. A bridge can quickly push just sales calls into your CRM, saving you time and energy sifting through all calls.

You should also have a multi-ring in place once you set up a bridge. By ringing every single salesperson at your dealership, you can guarantee higher connection rates, leading to more callerquickly-helped, happier customers.

I once worked with a dealer who was routing all third-party marketing provider calls to one phone handler. This dealership spent thousands of dollars per month on critical, important phone leads. That shopper’s experience is contingent on one individual answering the phone. As expected, the chance of callers actually reaching live and qualified agents on a single line was poor; they were left stranded and most didn’t leave a voicemail. If you have multiple agents, a multi-ring ensures more people have a chance to answer hot leads.

The result? More true leads, more appointment requests and more prospects logged in CRM — without spending a pretty penny.

Want to go one step further and add another safeguard to prevent those dreaded hold times? The easy solution is to roll calls elsewhere. A roll-over allows calls to “roll over” from one phone (or phones) to another after a certain number of rings. This is a simple safety net to prevent lost callers who want to speak with a live person. For instance, if a customer calls agent Sam, but he’s not in his office to answer, the phone will ring five times before being rolled over to agent Tom’s office. Tom can then pick up the phone and immediately help the caller.

A bridge, multi-ring and roll over are three great tools to use in sync in order to ensure every caller is helped, every day.

Voice Bridges

“For Sales, SAY or Press 1. For Service, SAY or press 2…..”

In a landscape where the average American has what seems like a million things on a daily to-do list, consumers that call dealerships are increasingly on the go. More and more prospects are dialing dealerships while driving, walking the dog, running errands or performing household chores. Furthermore, several states now have in place a hands-free driving policy. With a voice bridge, dealers can provide safety for calling prospects (you and I both know our culture is NOT slowing down anytime soon), offer a seamless customer service experience and get the caller one step closer to buying at a faster rate.

Smart Routing

Smart Routing helps agents get a grasp on and maintain their leads with just one outbound line by using phone codes.

Let’s say salesman Steve makes an initial outbound call to customer Jane. Smart Routing allows Jane’s call to be routed back to Steve. But what if Steve isn’t by his phone? No worries. Smart Routing also provides a fallback option, meaning the call can either go to a receptionist or another salesperson to guarantee it gets answered.

Properly routing your calls through your dealership ensures you’re getting value out of your phone system and helps improve dealership performance. To understand what solution may be best for you, keep track of your phone activity. Do you get tons of calls every hour of the day or are they more clustered around a specific time? Do you find your voicemail constantly full? Is your receptionist constantly transferring callers to voicemail boxes? Assess the problems, then cultivate a game plan for improvement.

Dynamic Customer Recognition

Repeat callers want to speak with the same agent — especially Service callers. They don’t want to have to tell the same thing to multiple agents on every call. They don’t want to waste their time explaining what’s wrong with their car — again. They want to know that the same person who’s been working alongside them all along will continue to take care of them.caller

Some AI call routing companies can help your callers bypass the bridge or receptionist completely. By analyzing previous inbound, outbound and text conversations, AI can route callers directly to the agent who has been working with that caller. Therefore, prospects can finally say goodbye to the headache surrounding the classic, age-old: I just need to talk to Nick! He knows exactly what I need!

Warm Transfer

If you called my phone and I just let it go to voicemail, did I answer your call? Of course not. You don’t need to be a phone routing expert to know that. The next time someone tries to tell you the call duration or answer rate matters, you can tell them how wrong they are.

Connecting calls matters. Prospects hanging up in frustration matters. Using a warm transfer procedure works and eliminates a receptionist forced forward – every caller’s misery. A warm transfer is where the receptionist first checks to see if the caller’s intended party is actually available and present to help before blindly transferring the caller over. If you’ve ever called your dentist office and were haphazardly tossed around through phone tree hell, you know how frustrating this is. Make sure no customer gets sent to voicemail unless specifically requested.

Live Message

Let’s say your receptionist is actively working to avoid the dreaded blind transfer. She’s going out of her way to provide top-notch customer satisfaction for every single caller. She quickly realizes that a majority of the time, sales agents aren’t by their phone because they’re on the lot selling cars. Good problem to have, right? Consider having her take a live message for these callers who couldn’t connect with their requested party.

I’m sorry, Jerry, but Ricardo is actually out with a customer at the moment. Your request is important to us, though. Can I take a message for you and I’ll make sure he gets it and returns your call?

Having every phone handler trained and operating with a “How can I help you?” mentality toward customers goes a long, long way for your dealership’s potential and reputation.
That ringing phone is actually more important than the walk-up prospect strolling your lot. Yes, you read that right. That showroom shopper is already in the dealership and likely to buy. The caller, however, is still in the process of determining which dealership may be good to purchase from.

Data shows that consumers still prefer calling to begin the purchase process. Most shoppers will interact with your dealership by picking up the phone at some point during their buying journey, so making sure every caller has the best phone experience should be top of mind. That starts with connecting more calls.

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