Know the 5 Customer Engagement Metrics You Can’t Ignore

Connect with shoppers at every stage of the cycle with the right processes and measurements

As any dealer can attest, car shopping has changed dramatically over the last decade. Shoppers spend hours (and days) guiding themselves through the vehicle-search process online, and many dealers feel they’ve lost their role in the shopping experience. Is it worth the effort, and is it even possible, to engage the modern shopper successfully?



It is worth the effort because it is possible. And it’s not a shot in the dark just because your shoppers stay mysterious: It’s a science. If you have the right processes in place and measure the right metrics, you can successfully connect with shoppers at every stage of the cycle.

About these metrics: I coach dealerships to build their processes around the five that matter most when it comes to engaging modern customers. And I make every manager I work with measure them, and manage their team accordingly.

But I also tell them not to just turn into the metrics police. Make sure your team knows why metrics are important, and how your measurement works to their benefit.

Here’s what they are, and how you can break them down for your team.

1. Contact ratio

You need to get customers in your dealership to close—and you need to get them on the phone to set an appointment. In fact, I’d guess nine out of 10 appointments are made over the phone.

Simply put: The more customers you can get on the phone and in your showroom, the more cars you’ll sell.

In your CRM, find out how many leads your team has actually contacted on the phone—50% is a good baseline, but you should always aim higher. Pull up your call history and note what time of day most calls were connected.

Have your team contact leads around those times to give them a better chance of getting real customers on the phone.

2. Response time to internet leads

When customers provide their email address after viewing a car on your site, they’ve likely given it to other dealerships, too. Every second counts in today’s market—if it takes you an hour or two (or longer) to follow up, you can bet your competition already has.

Track your team’s response time in your CRM. They should follow up with internet leads within 10 minutes—30 minutes at the most—to get their number and set an appointment.

If your team isn’t responding quickly enough, log into your CRM to see how leads are divided among them. If some are overloaded while others are light, find a way to distribute leads more effectively. If everyone’s busy, it may be time to start hiring.

3. Number of overdue tasks

Your CRM won’t help you succeed if you don’t hold your team accountable for using it. If you’re assessing your team’s performance by who’s on the phone the most or who’s always on the lot with a customer, you may not be getting the full story.

You have to pull data from your CRM to see where important tasks are falling through the cracks, and who might need some extra coaching. Most CRMs make it easy to find the number of overdue tasks—don’t ignore this important feature.

For an average-sized dealership, you should aim for 30 or fewer. If that number is too high, confirm everyone on your team knows what they need to do and why. If it turns out your processes don’t make sense or are too complex, maybe it’s time to rethink them.

4. Appointments confirmed by a manager

Think about the last time you made a doctor or dentist appointment. You got a call confirming the appointment, right?

Why should the car business be any different? Every dealer runs into no-shows—but some can be prevented. A lot of no-shows are people who set appointments with salespeople just to get them off the phone.

As a manager, you should call all customers who set an appointment to confirm the appointment and answer any questions they have. You may just change their mind about showing up.

Again, your CRM makes this easy to do. But doing it at all is on you. Once you commit to it, don’t quit. It’s one metric you can aim for: 100%, 100% of the time.

5. Service penetration

When you sell a new car, is the first oil change in the books by the time the customer drives away? Selling someone a car is not the end of a relationship.

Keeping a customer connected to your dealership through service appointments is a great way to get more revenue from them. Only about 30% of customers return to the dealership that sold them the car for service—so if your percentage is around that mark, you’re doing about as well as other dealers. But you want to be the best.

To get that number up, start introducing customers to your service department when they purchase a vehicle. According to Cox Automotive’s 2016 Maintenance and Repair Study, this makes customers 1.5 times more likely to return to your dealership for service.

Any dealer will sell more cars by improving these five metrics because all five boil down to one benefit: more customers in your showroom, and more chances to close more deals.

Mark Vickery is the senior director of performance management at VinSolutions.

Mark Vickery

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