It is an interesting juxtaposition that at the same time Canada’s new-car retail space chugs towards a third consecutive record year, dealerships across the country are experiencing some of the lowest showroom traffic numbers ever.
Way more often than not, today’s customer has made up their mind before swinging open the door to your dealership based largely on what they found online and the possible interaction stemming from your digital storefront or footprint.
Your customer-facing effort occurs in two equally important environments – your dealership and the Internet. And it was with an eye on easing the latter that SCI MarketView was born.
The Markham, Ont.-based company started in 1994 and has been one of the real pioneers in the digital lead industry for automotive. Spearheaded by president and chief executive leader Alan Bird, SCI developed a system to collect all Internet leads and applied business logic to help manufacturers manage them.
Since auto retailers needs to ultimately manage this new-found lead source, the company says it built its lead management system, ResponseDRIVER, to help dealers collect, organize, and track online leads.
The results have been impressive. Matt Gielow, SCI Marketview executive leader of product, says it does all of the digital and event-based lead management for General Motors and its more than 4,000 dealers in the U.S. The annual total of leads from that account alone tops 18 million.
Work in Canada is also growing as it boasts a corporate deal with Mazda inked back in March 2014.
Gielow sat down with Canadian AutoWorld to showcase the ins and outs of ResponseDRIVER.
Gielow says from a product side, they are trying to work around the premise of building tools and automatic solutions that respond to the consumer and work to get them back into the dealership.
The dashboard opens to reveal several separate windows each dedicated to a different lead type component including ResponseDRIVER, LaneDRIVER, and PortfolioDRIVER, with more products to come.
Within the ResponseDRIVER window, it shows the number of new emails, new leads, appointments and tasks. This is fed directly through emails coming into the dealer’s website.
All three of those tabs can be opened to reveal more information.
A second ResponseDRIVER window below indicates response time to the minute, percentage of customers contacted, appointments set, appointments kept, showroom close rate and close rate.
He says the idea behind the clean design was to provide top-level information at a glance and simple one-or two-click pathways that offered more detailed data.
New emails to the store (filled out via a form on the website) will go directly into the system. Users can click to reveal what the customer filled out including name, vehicle info, type or request (quote, test drive, CPO, etc.), type of lead (new or used sales, service or parts) and time and date the email arrived.
The program, which also boasts a mobile application, allows the system manager to determine exactly how staff will deal with the leads.
He says general managers can distribute to a single user, through round robin, via a waterfall or, for the dealerships fostering a more competitive sales environment, shark tank. The last means every sales person gets the lead at the same time and it is first come, first served.
And sales staff cannot act quickly and then simply sit on it, either. Gielow explains the system will alert management about tardy follow-ups thanks to an overdue alert that can be set for five, 15, 30 or 60 minutes.
ResponseDRIVER sends reports back to the dealership at a store-wide level so a general manager can tell how the store does with appointment rate, average response time, etc.
Gielow says one of the more buzzed-about features is the mobile application.
“Users like it because it does not require logging into the system or give them the onus of replying without a template,” he says. “During after hours, it will help make responding to leads quicker and give your staff some of the their time back in the off hours.”
To illustrate the point of how important those afterhours inquiries can be, he tells a story of when a U.S. dealer spoke up at a dealer meeting and said he did not want his sales staff responding to email leads at 2 a.m.
“Another dealer raised his hand and said ‘If he does not want it, could you send his lead to me?’ The expectation from the consumer is if they send in something then they want to hear back… some studies suggest the maximum time for response should not take longer than 30 minutes.”
With over 120 million virtual leads processed, SCI MarketView says it has a few pointers on converting online leads to buyers. Driving that message is its Retail Performance Group, which works to connect data analytics to insights and create a digital training platform for dealerships.
It boasts e-learning programs, webinars, webcasts and personalized retail sales team workshops. Gielow says the Retail Performance Group has trained over 600 dealerships across Canada, including those of one of the country’s largest OEMs. That effort included training for every dealer principal, sales manager, general manager and service staff about the basics of responding to customers – initial response time, scripts, etc. – to how to earn more leads in the first place.
While ResponseDRIVER does far more than just do lead management – Gielow points to equity mining and work to drive service business among others – offering best practices and management of leads remains the SCI MarketView’s bread and butter.
And considering the average customer visits less than 1.4 dealerships before purchase and 86 per cent of car buyers consult an average of 24 different online research sources, online lead management will only continue to grow.