Dealerships are supposed to respond properly and quickly to each Internet lead to have sales. While most dealerships do this, some do it better than others. In a current study that gauges responsiveness to the online inquiries of customers, dealerships of certain brands emerged as the best performers. The brand that got the highest ranking is Lexus.
According to the 2014 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index Internet Lead Effectiveness Benchmarking Study, the industry-average performance remained steady but some brands performed better compared to last year. 21 out of 33 brands showed improvement in handling customer inquiries online. Eight of the top 10 brands last year increased share while six of the bottom 10 in the same year decreased share.
Lexus, Porsche and Land Rover dealerships are on the top of the index. Their dealerships got lead effectiveness scores of 68, 66 and 65, respectively. Other luxury brands also found spots in the top 10. Jaguar got a score of 64, Audi had 63, while Lincoln received 60. The perfect score is 100.
Mass-market brands also did well in the study. Dealerships of Honda (60), Nissan (58), Dodge and Ford (both 57) also placed high on the index.
Chevrolet found itself near the bottom with a score of 51, making itself the lowest ranking mass-market brand on the list. Some luxury brands also underperformed: BMW, Cadillac and Infiniti got scores of 54, 54 and 53, respectively.
However, the brands whose dealerships proved to be the least responsive to Internet leads are Mitsubishi (50), Scion (49) and Mini (48). 56 is the industry average score.
Among all brands on the index, Lexus and Subaru were the only consistent performers. Both have stayed in the top one-third of the rankings since 2011.
The study was conducted with mystery shoppers making queries over the Internet and scoring dealerships based on their responsiveness. The dealerships were specifically scored on how fast they reply to a particular question that an auto-responder cannot address.
However, the speed of the response was not the only factor taken into consideration. The quality of the response to the question is just as important, and was thus also evaluated.
In this day and age, it is absolutely crucial for dealers to respond quickly and effectively to Internet leads with a personalized reply, and not just send out auto-response emails or ‘salesman template’ form letters.
Pied Piper Management CEO Fran O’Hagan said, “Today’s most successful brands and dealerships tend to be the ones that thrive on customer Internet inquiries.” He added, “The days of considering the Internet as a separate piece of the car business are gone. Today, the Internet is as much a part of the car business as the showroom.”
While most dealerships use the Internet to gain customers and boost their market share, there are others that still have yet to take advantage of it to further their business. The study found that of 14,500 customer inquiries that were sent to dealers through the Internet, 7 percent got no reply.