From the Editors

Are you responding to your customers?

I’ll admit that I’m an impatient person. I’m a member of Generation Y who is used to cell phone calls, text messages, the Internet, Google, email and Facebook giving me instant information when I need it, and therefore instant gratification in finding what I’m looking for.

As someone used to such immediate response, I have come to expect it. Maybe sometimes I expect too much too fast. Just this past Monday, for example, I was disappointed when I couldn’t buy movie tickets online and had to leave a voicemail at the theater, just to receive no response by Tuesday. Completely impatient by Tuesday, I called two phone numbers and sent two emails before finally being contacted by a theater representative, so I could make my purchase. And when I bought a preowned car from a private seller a couple months ago, I was more than anxious when I learned about it Thursday but didn’t have the opportunity to see it until Saturday.

What am I getting at with this? Your Generation Y customers, and likely most of your Generation X and Baby Boomer customers, are in the same boat. As a society, we’ve come to expect an instant response.

So I have to say I was utterly shocked when I recently received an automated email response from a dealer’s information email address that said because of the high volume of emails that are sent to that account, I may not get a response for up to 72 hours. 72 hours? Three days? Seriously? If I happen to be shopping your website, and I see a bike on your site that I want now, am I going to wait 72 hours to hear from you? Maybe I’m a shy customer who would rather get some details via email first, before calling in or visiting the dealership. If I don’t hear from you for 72 hours, while the dealership a little further away emails me within an hour, guess which dealership I’m going to visit? I’m probably going to drive right by yours and stop at the one where the staff seemed to care enough to email me back quickly.

Now I’m not saying this to ridicule the dealership whose response I received. I understand that in this economy staff levels are low, and salespeople may not have time to respond to emails every day. But consider for a minute how many customers you might be losing if you don’t respond to emails promptly. It has been said before by fellow Industry Insider Fran O’Hagan, president of Pied Piper Management Co., and I’m sure it has been said by numerous other bloggers and industry sources: Dealers need to respond to emails quickly. I felt that because of this email I received, dealers need another reminder.

If someone called your dealership, would you put them on hold for 72 hours? Would you pick up the phone and tell them you can’t give them any immediate information and would call them back in 72 hours? If that seems absurd, think about how a response like that would be conceived by customers who email you. You could easily be shrugging off a lot of sales.

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