MONTEREY, CA – Once a consumer fills out an inquiry form on your website, how long does it take your team to respond? Too long, according to an annual mystery shopper survey. And that’s a problem, given that more consumers are researching products and prices online before they ever step foot into a dealership.
“Regardless of whether today’s customer contacts a dealership by web, by phone or in-person, a dealership today must assume that it’s their only chance to meet a shopper, encourage them to visit the dealership, and help them become an owner of a new motorcycle,” said Fran O’Hagen, president and CEO of Pied Piper PSI.
Dealers are “meeting” up to one-third of their new customers through their websites. If the customer is under 25 years of age, the likelihood is much higher, O’Hagen told Dealernews.
A retailer would never lock up and leave the store with a customer walking around, he said, so the same must be applied to the people who are “walking around” your website, asking to be contacted. A web lead is a direct inquiry; once the lead is qualified, it offers the highest sales close rate, he added. “There is no way I would ever ignore one.”
According to the latest Pied Piper PSI Internet Lead Effectiveness (ILE) survey, BMW, Harley-Davidson and Indian dealerships outperform other motorcycle brands when it comes to following up on web leads. Collectively, however, the motorcycle Dealer community only rates a top score of 36 out of 100. By comparison, the lowest ILE scores for automotive Dealers are in the 40s, O’Hagen said.
The annual Pied Piper ILE study measures how dealerships respond to customer inquiries received through their websites. For the 2017 survey, Pied Piper sent customer inquiries through the individual websites of 2,197 franchised dealerships, asking a question about a vehicle in the Dealer’s inventory and providing a contact name, email address and local telephone number. Pied Piper then evaluated how the dealerships responded over the next 24 hours, or whether they responded at all. The firm uses 19 measurements to establish a Dealer’s PSI-ILE score, including whether the “customer” received a personal vs. automated response, whether a salesperson responded, and if the Dealer initiated a follow-up phone call.
Individual motorcycle Dealers can outperform the pack. Still, only 0.5 percent of Dealers in the study received ILE scores in the 80s and 20 percent received ILE scores in the 60s, O’Hagen said. The industry-wide average score: 31.
Collectively, BMW Dealers this year received the highest average score (36). Also performing at or above the industry average were Harley-Davidson (34), Indian (33), Honda (32), Polaris Slingshot (32) and Husqvarna (31). Falling below the average were Triumph (30), Ducati (29), Kawasaki (29), Can-Am Spyder (28), Suzuki (27), Yamaha (27), Zero (27) Aprilia (26), KTM (26) and Moto Guzzi (25). (See chart, below.)
Pied Piper identified certain variations by brand.
Responded in any way (including auto-responses) within 24 hours:
- Most likely: Polaris, Harley-Davidson, Indian, Triumph, BMW (91 percent or more of the time)
- Least likely: Moto Guzzi, KTM (less than 85 percent of the time)
Provided a personal response within 24 hours:
- Most likely: BMW (more than 60 percent of the time)
- Least likely: Suzuki, Can-Am, Polaris, Triumph (less than 50 percent of the time)
Provided a personal response within 30 minutes:
- Most likely: Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki, Honda (15 percent or more of the time)
- Least likely: KTM, Zero, Moto Guzzi, Yamaha (less than 10 percent of the time)
Answered the customer’s specific question within 24 hours:
- Most likely: BMW (more than 50 percent of the time)
- Least likely: Suzuki, Can-Am, Aprilia, Yamaha, Honda (less than 35 percent of the time)
Attempted to contact the web customer by phone within 24 hours:
- Most likely: Harley-Davidson, Indian (more than 50 percent of the time)
- Least likely: Moto Guzzi, Ducati, Husqvarna, Can-Am (less than 25 percent of the time)
‘Thank you for contacting… who?’
The good news was that Dealers were more likely to respond to web inquiries “in any way” — 91 percent of the time on average, up from 89 percent in 2016. The bad news: Dealers rely heavily on auto-response technology. Here’s why: The quality of auto-messages has deteriorated, Pied Piper noted, as more retailers choose to dispatch their CRM system’s templated auto-response (“Thank you, we’ll get back with you shortly”) rather than craft a specific message.
In this year’s survey, 60 percent of automated responses received from Dealers did not include the dealership’s physical address, and 28 percent even failed to include the dealership’s name. “An auto response is an ad. It’s an opportunity to put your best foot forward,” O’Hagen said. “They didn’t even tell you which Dealer is responding.”
These auto-responder messages are important, Pied Piper said, since 45 percent of the time, on average, an automated response is the only reply a motorcycle shopper receives. And that’s if they receive the email at all. In the 2017 survey, a third of Dealer email responses were flagged as spam by customers’ email providers and placed into the customer’s junk mail folder.
Pied Piper recommends two ways Dealers can combat the spam issue. First, make a follow-up phone call as soon as the email is sent, leaving a voicemail message saying you’ve replied to the inquiry so that the customer can look for the email. Second, mystery-shop your own web response process and report junk email problems to your IT department or CRM provider.