Have you ever waited for an important call from a potentially important customer, only to miss it when the call finally comes through? Nothing is more aggravating. You call the person back immediately but meanwhile they’re leaving you a voice mail. You try again and they don’t answer.
What to do? If you call them a third time, you risk being obnoxious. If you don’t call, you’re playing the waiting game all over again. Every missed opportunity in auto sales is missed revenue, both for the salesperson and dealership. There are plenty of vehicles to choose from out there, so the last thing you want is to miss a call from someone who is actively shopping for a vehicle.
Unfortunately, it appears that dealerships are missing a lot of phone calls.
A 2016 CallRevu report revealed that 32 percent of incoming calls to sales departments never reached an agent. Only eight percent of those callers left a voice mail. The rest hung up. That means 24 percent, or nearly one in four calls, were potential missed sales opportunities.
One reason so many calls are missed is because most car salespeople are not chained to their desks, nor should they be. They’re either calling customers or they’re with customers out on the lot.
So when a customer calls the dealership’s main number and asks for a specific salesperson, that call gets transferred to the salespersons’ extension and rings at their desk; and rings, and rings.
To combat these missed calls, many salespeople give out their personal cell phone numbers to customers. But the customers may not always call the cell phone, and as a dealer this can present a few problems. Now your salesperson owns that customer contact information. If they’re calling and texting back and forth with each other, your dealership doesn’t have any documentation of those phone calls and messages. Something non-compliant could be going on and you would never even know it. And if your salesperson quits, he or she may do so with hundreds of your customer contacts stored on their cell phone.
A very simple and very effective way to solve these problems is a technology called Single Number Reach (SNR). If your dealership has a Unified Communications Platform (UCP) phone solution from a provider like Shoretel or Cisco, you probably have SNR capabilities. Hopefully you are using it and liking it. If you aren’t using it, here’s why you should.
SNR assigns one phone number for every employee. This means your business cards or email signatures will no longer have to include both a work number and cell number. Customers like it because they don’t have to decide which number to call. Your employees should like it because they won’t have to give out their personal cell numbers to customers.
How that phone number is routed at any given time can be customized by each individual. A default route would be the call going to the desk phone. After three rings, if it hasn’t been answered, the call is automatically forwarded to the cell phone. If after three calls it still hasn’t been answered, it goes into voice mail.
But if an employee knows they’re going to be away from their desk for a few minutes, they can very simply — by clicking one button — program the call routing directly to their cell phone.
If the customer leaves a message, there is a universal voice mailbox that can be accessed from either the desk phone or cell phone. The employee doesn’t have to check two separate voice mail systems.
A SNR also protects the dealership in a couple different ways. When a customer calls a salesperson directly, that customer’s number is automatically stored in that salesperson’s personal cell phone record. With SNR that’s not the case; the customer’s number is routed through the dealership’s UCP and therefore is stored in the CRM. If a salesperson suddenly quits or gets fired, it would take a lot more effort to try and access and save all those records.
Also with SNR, call times and text messages are saved, documented and can be accessed for review in the event that any customer complains.
For salespeople, a SNR means that if they step away from the desk for a minute and that important calls comes through, they won’t miss it. SNR increases the availability of all your dealership employees, which should also reduce the number of missed calls, missed opportunities and lost revenue.
Author: Erik Nachbahr
Erik Nachbahr is President and Founder of Helion Automotive Technologies, the nation’s leader in automotive Information Technology (IT) management. Since 1997 Helion has grown to become the nation’s largest managed technology services provider for auto dealers. With over 28,000 computers under management across 700 dealerships and body shops, Helion ensures best practices for productivity, security and compliance.