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It’s crucial to fix your phone system as soon as possible to connect with 100% of these high quality, low-funnel shoppers. The following checklist of 7 Key Performance Indicators (KPI) can set you down a path to phone health.

by Tom Harsha

Dealerships lose hundreds of sales opportunities every year because of missed or mishandled phone calls. On average, a dealership fails to connect with 33% of incoming calls. For every 100 calls, that means you’re missing out on 33 potential deals! Phone calls are three times more likely to convert than other types of leads. It’s crucial to fix your phone system as soon as possible to connect with 100% of these high quality, low-funnel shoppers. The following checklist of 7 Key Performance Indicators (KPI) can set you down a path to phone health.

1. Check All Dealership Numbers Once a Quarter

It’s crucial to make sure all your dealership phone numbers are sending customers where you want them to go. Every quarter, pick up the phone and call all your numbers. This includes third-party vendor lines. If you have an auto-attendant, check that all the options connect correctly. Make sure all options don’t ring to your receptionist. This defeats the purpose of the auto-attendant and can frustrate callers.

2. Verify Voicemails

Turnover of dealership sales staff can be as high as 70% a year. With that level of churn, it’s easy to overlook voicemail mailbox set-up. But no voicemail can leave customers stranded on a line with no idea who they are supposed to be talking with. Set up a process to make sure every new salesperson records a voicemail message the first week on the job. Every month, call all the numbers to ensure voicemails are not full and therefore turning away customers. If calls are forwarded to a salesperson’s private cell phone, call that number and check for proper voicemail box set-up. A missing voicemail message shows lack of effort and no customer wants to deal with that kind of store.

3. Review Abandoned Calls

An abandoned call is one that ends before any conversation occurs. When inbound calls are abandoned, it is often because the caller is frustrated with the time on hold. You can solve a lot of your phone problems by reviewing your abandoned call data. Are phones ringing an abnormally long time with no one answering? Are your phones not connecting properly? How often is this happening? Pinpoint the problems and implement fixes and you’ll see a welcome jump in connected calls.

4. Be Mobile Friendly

A recent study found that 73% of inbound dealership calls are made on mobile phones. Your customers want to be able to call you on the go. Yet, over half of states have hands-free laws in place. So, if your phone system requires a customer to push a button to be connected, the call will cut-off before routing to an operator simply because the customer can’t push a button! A simple fix is to ensure your system automatically sends callers to the receptionist if no button is pushed.

5. Monitor Calls in Real-Time

Too often dealers don’t truly know what is happening on the phones. Make it a priority to sit down with your receptionist or operator once a quarter and watch what is really happening. This person is the main gatekeeper of your business. Does he or she have the proper tools they need to be successful? For example, an outdated phone list could leave customers stranded on hold or directed to an obsolete number. If you don’t have time for this task outsource it to friends or family. Have a family member call up the dealership and rate the experience on a scale of 1 to 5. You’ll learn a lot about the health of your phone system very quickly!

6. Walk the Floor During Peak Hours

If your phone data shows a lot of abandoned calls during peak hours, walk the sales and service departments during that time. Most often, you’ll find people who are supposed to be answering the phones are working with the customers in front of them. If this is the case, put a backup plan in place for these times. This could include designating one person per department to answer the phone while others handle in-store customers.

7. Implement Phone Health Alerts

To keep your phone system healthy, you can also implement a health alert system. These systems use artificial intelligence and machine learning to help track what is happening on your phones in real-time and send alerts to a designated person in the dealership when a negative change impacts your phone lines. For example, if your abandoned call rate suddenly shoots up, an alert will be sent stating the problem, possible causes, and suggested solutions.

Customers who call your dealership have generally done their research online and are ready to learn more about a particular vehicle, or even schedule a test drive. You can’t afford to miss calls from these high quality, low-funnel shoppers. Take the time to improve the health of your phone system by monitoring and acting on these KPIs. You’ll likely unveil easy to fix problems so you can start connecting with 100% of calls.

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