In today’s technology-centric business environment, it’s easy to adopt the mindset that all your automotive business’ focus—and budget—should be on using digital channels to attract new customers and service current ones. However, this approach can lead to developing a blind spot to offline channels, where a significant segment of the customer journey still occurs.
In the world of the aftermarket auto industry, while customers often perform most of their research online, the purchase journey often includes a phone call to see if a particular part or service is available. The good news is: a July 2017 Forrester report concluded that customers who initiate inbound calls convert faster, spend more, and churn less.
It may seem counterintuitive in today’s digital economy, but the Forrester research suggests your best customers are the ones who contact your business via phone.
To determine how well top auto manufacturers are servicing their inbound calls, our expert team of data analysts at the Marchex Institute evaluated calls to the top nine aftermarket auto brands that occurred between January 1 and June 30 of 2017.
In the published results, 2017 Aftermarket Auto Business Best-in-Class Call Handling Benchmark, the Marchex team discovered that of the over 8 million calls received during the six-month period, 15.5 percent were “failed calls”—calls that went unanswered or were abandoned before connecting with a representative.
The impact of these “failed calls” on businesses can be significant: reduced customer satisfaction and lost opportunities to make sales or acquire new customers. Fortunately, improving performance doesn’t require a huge commitment of time and resources. The index report offers easy-to-implement operational changes that can quickly improve a dealers’ inbound call servicing – and possibly its bottom line.
Failed calls fall into one of four types:
- Unanswered – a call that is not classified as a bad call (spam, misdial, etc.), but wasn’t answered
- IVR or Voicemail Abandon – a call abandoned during the automated routing or voicemail process
- Hold-time Abandon – a call abandoned while on hold
- Ring Transfer Abandon – a call abandoned during transfer
While the results varied greatly, there are actionable steps to take to improve call handling and outcomes:
Reduce unanswered calls
Dedicate enough resources to answer incoming calls, especially during peak hours.
Streamline the call routing process
While your interactive voice response (IVR) system can take care of store hours and directions, be sure to make it easy for callers to get to a representative.
Avoid putting callers on hold
It’s easy to leave callers hanging during peak times so consider offering a call-back option in addition to letting them wait.
Provide a warm transfer
Get someone on the line before passing the caller along to minimize the chance of the call being dropped.
The Marchex Institute team also uncovered some interesting insights into the top reasons people call aftermarket auto businesses, as well as how often firm appointments are made, and who makes the appointment request most often.
While these insights and tips offer a healthy dose of common sense, research shows that implementing them have tangible, positive results. In a recent study by the Marchex Institute, Politeness Pays, the team looked at call handling practices and outcomes across several industries. Being polite to callers resulted in longer calls, happier callers and better conversion rates for businesses.
To learn how aftermarket auto brands handle calls and discover more tips for improvement, download the 2017 Auto Manufacturer Best-in-class Call Handling Index today.