Somewhere in the North Pacific Ocean, there lives a whale that cannot communicate with other whales. You see, whales communicate via sub-sonic vocal sounds. Most whales communicate in the 15-25 hertz (Hz) range. Whales, for the most part, can communicate inter-species… except for one. This whale communicates in the vocal range of 52 hertz, making it impossible for other whales to hear them which isolates them in the oceans. Are there more than one of these whales? There must be for them to still exist, but they have never been seen, only heard via advanced audio equipment developed by NASA. Of course, they need to reproduce, but imagine living in an area that encompasses 80% of the Earth and not being able to talk to any other of the many whales in existence. People have been fascinated by this. They’ve written songs and books about them, made references to them on TV shows and even used their likeness to sell cell phones in Ireland. Why are people so fascinated by this creature that’s never been seen but only heard – and even then, only with advanced technology?
As a species, humans cannot exist without communication. There have been many experiments and real-life examples of people going crazy in isolation. But is it simply the lack of being able to communicate that so disrupts our brains?
I would say no. Unlike this whale species, even prisoners in isolation have brief communication with people—even if it’s only a guard delivering their food, letting them out to shower or for that hour of recreation time the prisoners are allowed. Even that tiny bit of communication isn’t enough to avoid insanity for some of them. If it’s not the lack of communication, which humans need, then what is it?
It’s the quality of the communication.
How does this story tie into automotive? Most consumers are online today researching vehicles before even attempting to reach out to a dealership. When they do reach out, despite dealers’ attempts (or lack thereof) to respond and engage the customer, they’re often met with very little information other than “When can you come in?” In fact, the industry average – for a good dealership – on connecting with a customer hovers around 20% or less. Dealers pay, on average, upwards of $25 or more just to get the information from a conversion or third-party lead. If a dealer pays for 100 leads per month, that equates to $2,500 (on the low-end). Yet, they’re only engaging with 20% which means that for $2,500, they’re paying $2,500 to engage with $500 (20) worth of leads.
Good quality communication, which involves an actual engagement with the customer and the opportunity for the dealership to provide the customer with the information they are seeking and begin to build a relationship with them, establishes trust and migrates the customer further down the funnel towards selecting the dealership as the one that they wish to buy from more than simply extracting information and joining the gang of dealerships responding via auto-responders and calling a customer three times per day ever will. Quality, however, costs more than quantity. Yet, while dealers will spend more money to get more extracted information (leads), they won’t pay more for quality. Quality costs more money. That’s the difference between going to Payless to buy sneakers or spending more to buy Nikes.
Remember, however, that, to your customers, every conversation revolves around them. They don’t care whether your dealership is getting 100 or 1,000 leads. They just want information and quality interaction in the manner that they choose. Having quality conversations with customers engages them more which then translates into a higher conversion rate, a better customer experience and, ultimately, increased return-on-investment for the dealership.
In this age of non-verbal communication, the difference between communication and quality communication is exactly like the difference between a chat or text reply of “K” and one that is in-depth and engaging in which there is an actual conversation occurring and not simply a vague response.
Examine how you’re communicating with customers and whether the channels and techniques you’re using to do so are designed for quality communications or you are simply trying to achieve a larger quantity of information and shooting for higher conversions by playing the numbers. E-mail templates sent via a CRM auto-responder are no longer effective. For dealerships to increase engagement and sales, they need to be having quality conversations with customers on the channels they pay attention and respond to.
Find a solution that can provide you the engagement your customers deserve while also being the one that provides the most ROI. If customers can’t hear you, you’ll soon discover that nobody is listening, and you may become exactly what you don’t want to…
The loneliest whale in the world.
Author: Todd Smith
Todd Smith began in the business washing cars and eventually worked his way up to the General Manager of a multi-store group. When the Internet first launched in the car business in 1995-1996, Todd was there looking for ways to figure out how to use it within the dealership. It wasn’t until 1998 that Todd wrote the manual “Automotive retailing on the Internet”, which helped dealerships understand how to take advantage of the Internet as a business. Through the years Todd has worked alongside manufacturers, large dealer groups, single point dealerships, and automotive community vendors. Todd is an active speaker at many industry events helping dealerships understand how to leverage technology to achieve sales and organizational goals.