CommentaryAug 20th, 2018

How Call Analytics Help Dealers Transform the Customer Experience


The options for car shopping digitally have expanded significantly over the past decade. When a potential customer wants to get in touch, they can email the dealership, connect on their website, check out its Facebook page, tweet, or even engage with a chatbot.

Consumers are eager to adopt new technologies, consume digital content, and make more transactions online. As a result, marketers are devoting more of their budgets to digital. In fact, nearly half of their budget in 2021 will be spent on digital channels. But even as these options continue to grow, the fact is people are still picking up the phone and calling dealerships. In today’s increasingly digital world, it can be easy to forget the critical role of the phone call.

Customers still crave a human connection, and dealerships that invest in proper call handling are the ones that are leading the way in the industry. Although customers do most of their initial research online, by the time they pick up their phone to check for inventory from local dealers, they’re on their way to purchase.

Consumers are clicking to call from their device, and how a dealer handles the call influences their purchase decision. At that point, it’s not only about having the right inventory — is the dealership able to engage, set an appointment, and get them in the door? If so, it is more likely to close the deal.

A recent Forrester study shows customers who call a business convert 30% faster, spend 28% more, and have a 28% higher retention rate. With mobile users making an estimated 124.8 billion calls to businesses in 2018, it’s more important than ever that dealers think about the impact of phone calls on sales and customer engagement.

But what good is a phone call to a marketer if you’re not able to measure how the conversation went? Did you meet the customer’s needs? Did you offer the right services? Was the agent polite? Enter call analytics.

What is call analytics?

Call analytics can help a dealership understand insights, such as what drove an individual to call the dealer (an ad on Facebook, an email, or the dealership website), and can then be used to attribute leads and conversions, as well as optimize marketing messages.

Customer journeys are rarely a straightforward path, so call analytics can also help dealers track omnichannel conversations, optimize keyword buys, and identify ways to more efficiently allocate sales resources and marketing budgets.

More than 19% of calls to dealerships go unanswered or are abandoned by the caller due to being placed on hold or because of confusing interactive voice response (IVR) systems. In addition, nearly 70% of all inbound calls to dealerships are inquiries for parts and service — a key revenue driver for car brands — and 10% of calls are for new sales opportunities, including new or used vehicles. Without call-analytics technology in the mix, millions of dollars in revenue opportunities are left on the line.

Taking it to the next level with AI

Call analytics is a powerful technology that can set dealerships apart from competitors, but it’s artificial intelligence (AI)–enabled speech recognition technology used in call analytics that can truly transform the dealership customer experience.

AI-enabled speech recognition technology combined with call analytics capabilities allows dealers to understand the basics of a phone call made to a dealership — how long it lasted, and whether a potential customer spent more than two minutes on hold (the average hold time on a call to a business) or in an IVR loop — and to deeply analyze consumer-to-dealer calls, then make intelligent predictions about a call’s outcome.

What this technology can do for your dealership

In the automotive industry, better insight into the full customer journey — not just the digital journey between email, social and web — creates new opportunities for companies to close sales and increase revenue, while personalizing the customer experience to drive repeat business and loyalty. Transformational insights that call analytics’ AI-enabled speech technology can provide include:

  • A better understanding of what happens on every call. By knowing what happens on every call, dealerships can quickly optimize their marketing and media spend to drive more of the phone calls that convert to customers.
  • Identification of calls most likely to convert into sales. Identify callers with a strong inclination to buy based on keywords that indicate high intent to purchase, such as “appointment” or “in stock now.”
  • Optimization of your sales team’s performance. With this technology, dealerships can confirm sales scripts are being followed to ensure qualifying leads from marketing are closed successfully, and that agents are properly trained. Dealerships can also identify high-performing agents and leverage their best practices to inform future adjustments to agent scripts and training to increase caller-to-customer conversion.

By automating the transcription process and aggregating conversation data in real time, dealerships can use call analytics to measure the effectiveness of how agents are engaging with customers.

Call analytics will help transform the customer experience at dealerships, enabling them to win new customers, retain existing buyers, and, ultimately, increase revenue.

Matt Muilenburg, senior vice president of operations at Marchex, has more than 18 years of experience in operations and business development, with deep expertise in the automotive industry. He is a strategic partner for automotive companies worldwide, helping them solve complex problems in areas such as marketing and customer service. As the voice of the customer, Matt works with OEMs, dealerships, and partners to drive alignment, build sustainable and long-term solutions, and drive revenue for enterprise clients. Prior to Marchex, he worked at CDK Global, ADP, and invested more than 12 years the Cobalt Group, where he led the product solutions team.

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