Which digital communication channels are crucial to your customer service?

Powersports Business has turned to Pete Batten, chief product officer at Dealer Spike, to provide insight on the communication channels that your dealership should be using to reach customers.

By Pete Batten

How easily can a customer contact your dealership from your website or social platforms? If your phone isn’t ringing and customers aren’t visiting your dealership, they may be browsing for units online — and that’s where they will try to connect with you.

Today’s consumers prefer digital contact options, and they expect businesses to offer multiple communication channels. To help you optimize your customer communication strategy, Dealer Spike offers a review of the digital channels that customers prioritize the most.

First, why does having multiple communication channels matter? With more consumers shopping online instead of in-store, 45% of online users browse 7-10 websites and contact multiple stores prior to purchasing. Because every consumer has preferred contact methods, the dealerships who offer multiple user-friendly channels are more likely to receive questions about inventory, services and pricing and have a better chance of making a sale. Dealer Spike recently surveyed customers who had purchased from a dealership, and 90% reported that they value dealerships who offer multiple communication channels.

In the same survey, 90% of participants also reported that a rapid response time from the dealership is a “must-have” quality. However, many dealerships struggle to devise a communication strategy that allows them to respond to online leads quickly. The results of Pied Piper’s 2020 Internet Lead Effectiveness Industry Study revealed that dealerships take more than 24 hours to respond to half of their online leads. Imagine if a customer had to stand on your lot for more than 24 hours to ask a question! By quickly responding to online inquiries, you can stand out from the other dealerships and form a valuable connection with your potential customers.

If you’re concerned about finding easy ways to help online users contact your dealership, the solution may lie in direct-communication technology. Instead of phone calls and in-person visits, texting has become the preferred method of contact among consumers, with email, live chat, direct messaging apps, social media platforms and video chats serving as runners-up.

About 79% of consumers appreciate the option of live chat in particular because they can immediately connect with a real employee without needing to travel to the dealership. Many consumers browse online multiple times a day wherever they are currently located—at home, work or while commuting—and live chat allows them to ask questions and receive a rapid response. It’s no surprise that online leads are 85% more likely to convert into customers after chatting with a business!

When managing a multi-channel communication strategy, it’s important to be flexible. Your customers’ communication preferences will shift, and so should your strategy. In the beginning, you may want to target the most popular channels, such as text, live chat, direct messaging apps and email, in order to appeal to a larger audience. Over time, you can remove some channels and incorporate others according to the feedback you receive from online leads. What should remain constant in your strategy is offering multiple communication options and responding in a timely manner to all online inquiries, as these practices demonstrate to your customers that you value their business.

Pete Batten is chief product officer at Dealer Spike.

August Top 10 Most Searched Segments on Dealer Spike Dealership Websites

1. Motorcycle - Cruiser

2. Side-by-Side

3. Motorcycle - Touring

4. Motorcycle - Sport

5. ATV - Utility

6. Motorcycle - Off-Road

7. Motorcycle - Standard

8. Personal Watercraft - 3-Passenger

9. Motorcycle - 3-Wheel Motorcycle

10. Side-by-Side - Utility

Pete Batten
Article on PowersportsBusiness.com

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