PUBLISHING DEALERSHIP PHONE NUMBERS BEFORE THE CALL The first step to fixing your dealership’s phones is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes before they even make the call. Today’s wired customer calls because they cannot find the information they need online. Are you making it as easy as possible for them to reach the correct department or person, or are you setting them up for transfers, dead ends and frustration? Look at your dealership’s website and see if the customer even needs to make a telephone call to your store. Does your dealership offer a chat function? Many customers, for one reason or another, are uncomfortable using the telephone and would rather contact your store via chat. Offering that meets the customer where they would prefer to be met. Does your website offer the opportunity to schedule service appointments? Eliminate appointment calls to the best of your ability. More than 90 percent of calls to your parts department are about inventory availability. So, offer to sell parts online. Not only is this more efficient for the customer — a simple click instead of a conversation — but it removes some of the load from your phone efforts, making those customers who need to call you feel like a priority. Are your hours of operation listed correctly, not only on your website, but also on Google, Yelp or any other platform the customer might be searching? If the customer thinks you’re closed, they’re not going to call, and you’re going to miss their business. Once a quarter, do a search and make sure everything is correct. How many telephone numbers does your dealership have, and how many does it really need? Does each department have its own number on your website? What if the customer is calling for something not represented by one of those numbers? We’ve found that only 47 percent of calls that come to a dealership’s sales line are about sales. The “top left” phone number becomes the “catch all” for everything. Measuring caller intent based on the line the caller uses is a complete fallacy and poor business practice. Make the calling process as easy as possible for your customer. Have you called your dealership lately? Try it from a landline, and then try it from your mobile phone. Approximately 65 percent of your calls are from mobile phones, and that fact alone adds at least five seconds to the connection time. Similar to web leads, which can take up to 10 minutes to arrive, we need to measure our customers’ experience in connecting with our dealership, not our experience in our response times. Make a commitment to the phone and you’ll be rewarded with a happy customer.