How Dealerships Can Handle and Convert More Phone Ups

min read
How Dealerships Can Handle and Convert More Phone Ups

If it seems like your dealership is getting more calls than ever, it’s not just your imagination — 67% of automotive consumers called a dealership in 2022, up from 61% in 2021. Why the increase? The pandemic changed how people interact with dealerships, as many now do more research online and call to get questions answered before hitting the showroom floor. Though social distancing measures have eased, the trend is here to stay. 

Car shoppers frequently call dealerships to ask questions about car models, check inventory, or schedule an appointment or test drive. Since this is their first point of human contact with your dealership, it’s a make-or-break moment in the purchasing process. 

There are a lot of factors that go into creating a seamless phone call experience. For example, the first step is to ensure the caller has been routed to the correct salesperson or location and you have to answer the phone (which is easier said than done if you’re understaffed!). If you happen to miss their call, you need to follow up in a timely manner, before they contact a competitor.  

Once your salespeople pick up the phone, you need to ensure the conversation not only adheres to your script, but that the agent is expressing empathy and acting as an ambassador for your brand.  

If any part of the call experience isn’t up to par, it can be extremely costly to your dealerships. Our 2022 Buyer Experience Benchmark Report found that 76% of consumers will stop doing business with you after just a single bad experience. To borrow some words from Eminem, you have one shot, one opportunity to seize your callers’ business. Will you capture it, or just let it slip? 

Below, you can lose yourself in our top tips to handle and convert more phone ups. 

Tip 1: Efficiently Route Callers to the Right Agent or Location

One of the most important parts of the call experience occurs before a salesperson even picks up the phone. Call routing is critical to converting phone ups — if you can’t get your caller to the right location or department in a timely manner, they’re likely to abandon their call. In our 2022 Buyer Experience Benchmark Report, 54% of consumers said that excessive transfers create a poor call experience — this was one of the top gripes the participants listed. 

So, how can you ensure that you send each caller gets sent to the right person on the first try? Solutions like Invoca offer a variety of call routing tools that you can customize to meet your business’s unique needs. Below are several different routing features dealerships frequently use.

Intelligent call routing

The consumer’s first interaction with your dealership isn’t usually a phone call — most of the time, they’ll visit your website or click one of your search ads first. The caller’s digital journey before they call can help you determine what their intent is. But many companies don’t take this into account — they treat the web visit and phone call as siloed experiences.

With Invoca, you can connect the digital-to-call experience by using the caller’s digital journey information to inform call routing. For example, if the consumer called you from your “service center” webpage and their geographic location was Chicago, you could automatically route them to the service center at your Chicago dealership. This ensures the caller is quickly connected with the right person who can meet their needs, without getting transferred or repeating themselves.

Ring group call routing

If call volumes are high or your dealerships are understaffed, you can reduce unanswered calls with ring group call routing. This feature allows you to route callers to a list of phone numbers sequentially, simultaneously, or via round robin until someone answers and accepts it. 

For example, you can route calls to one dealership first, but if they don’t answer, forward the call to another location or your IVR. You can also route calls to a prioritized list of local salespeople so top performers get more calls. Finally, you can have calls ring multiple reps’ phones at the same time until someone answers. 

Sample Invoca ring group routing treatment

Conversational IVRs

Sometimes, the easiset solution is to let callers self-route, so they can direct themselves to their preferred destination. With Invoca, you can create custom IVR phone menus in minutes to automatically qualify and route callers to the right location, department, or agent. IVRs can also answer questions, assist callers during busy times or when locations are closed, collect consumer data, and deflect the wrong types of calls from tying up locations or agents. 

Invoca IVRs can understand both voice responses and keypresses, providing better caller experiences. They’re also simple for anyone to build in minutes, so when your customer’s needs change, you can easily add locations, update services, and change hours—without having to involve IT or a vendor.

Sample conversational IVR in Invoca — no coding or IT help needed to create=

Tip 2: Empower Your Agents with Pre-Call Data 

Once the call is routed to the best agent to assist the customer, Invoca can also help your agents take the experience to the next level with pre-call whisper messages or screen pops. Your agents will receive these messages before they answer the phone, providing them with valuable insights on callers, such as their name, geographic location, any marketing campaigns they interacted with, and the webpage they called from. 

Your agents can use this information to anticipate the caller’s needs, pull up any relevant information, and tailor the conversation accordingly. For example, if the consumer placed a phone call from your “Toyota Highlander” webpage, you could proactively pull up inventory information for the vehicle and be ready to answer questions about financing options. This creates a seamless digital-to-call experience that makes each caller more likely to convert. 

Pre-call data also reduces call times, since agents already know the context of each call and can jump right into the conversation. This improves efficiency and allows your agents to handle more calls, reducing unanswered call rates. 

Tip 3: Automate Phone Call Quality Assurance to Improve Agent Performance

At this point, you’ve routed the caller to the right salesperson and you’ve armed them with information about the caller. So far so good — but now, the real challenge begins. Your sales reps are the first point of human contact consumers have with your business — they’re the face of your dealership, which is why it’s critical that they provide a great experience. And that experience needs to be standardized across all of your locations. If even one of them is acting as a poor ambassador for your company, it can result in negative reviews and long-term damage to your brand. 

Most dealership networks do some form of phone call quality assurance (QA) to evaluate agent performance. The issue, however, is that quality assurance can be time-consuming to complete and difficult to scale, especially if you’re responsible for multiple dealership locations. The average QA team is only listening to a small sample of calls from each agent, or mystery shopping in small doses, leading to inaccuracies — they may be catching your best agents or locations on their worst days or vice versa. In addition, their review process is fraught with biases and human error that can skew scores and cause agents to become skeptical about their accuracy.

To solve this problem and get complete visibility into every agent’s performance on every call at every dealership location, automotive customer experience and sales leaders use Invoca’s automated call quality assurance. With this solution, you can use AI to automatically score each sales call. You can set your own criteria for call scoring, such as if the person answering the call used an appropriate greeting, mentioned a current promotion, and asked for the appointment or test drive. This ensures you’re making accurate judgments based on all your calls, not a small sampling. It also allows sales leaders to spend more of their time coaching agents, and less listening to calls.

Sample Invoca scorecard generated by AI

In addition, Invoca can give agents access to their automated scores, call recordings, and transcripts immediately after calls end, so they can track their own progress. They’ll see which areas they’re nailing and which need a little extra work. This gives them transparency into their performance and the autonomy to take the right steps to improve it.

Tip 4: Follow Up With Missed Phone Calls

With more consumers calling dealerships than ever, it’s inevitable that you’ll miss some calls. In fact, according to our platform data, the average automotive business misses 23% of their inbound phone calls

When you miss sales calls, your team doesn’t even get an attempt to convert them. This not only wastes all the campaign dollars your marketing team spent driving those phone leads, but it also lowers your bottom-line revenue.

To reduce missed calls, leading automotive businesses use Invoca’s Lost Sales Recovery feature. This tool gives automotive teams complete transparency into how many calls their locations are missing. You can then use this data to diagnose issues and determine the best next steps to increase call answer rates. 

With Invoca’s real-time reports, teams can make the right changes to decrease missed calls. Some common pivots include:

  • Increasing staffing during times when calls go unanswered
  • Adjusting ad scheduling to run only during business hours
  • Correcting IVR and routing issues that impact missed call rates
  • Creating incentives and gamification to lower missed call rates 

Invoca’s Lost Sales Recovery feature also prioritizes your missed sales calls using intent data. For example, it can flag high-intent callers who called from an ad for a limited-time 0% APR financing promotion. It can also sort callers based on the IVR keypresses they entered (for instance, press “1” to speak to sales or “2” for service.) This helps you determine who you need to follow up with first, and if the follow-up should be done by a sales or service agent.

Sample high-intent missed calls dashboard

How an automotive repair chain used Invoca to reduce missed calls and recoup $1.3 million per month 

We have a customer that’s a large automotive repair and tire retailer with over 1,200 locations across North America. They get over 670,000 calls per month with a healthy 40% sales opportunity conversion rate, so they’re doing a huge amount of volume and there’s a lot of potential in every one of the calls they get. 

Like most businesses, they were unaware of the volume of calls that were going unanswered across all their locations. Using Invoca, they found that they were missing over 8,000 calls per month. With an average $220 ticket value per call, that was a huge leak in the funnel. Actually, it was a $16 million a year leak in the funnel.

They were then able to use Invoca’s missed call reporting to fix the issue. They created the right sales incentives, improved training, and updated their phone system to reduce unanswered calls. As a result, they added $1.3 million in monthly revenue, added 6,000 calls per month, and reduced missed calls by 75%.

Curious to see just how costly unanswered calls can be for your dealerships? Check out our blog, See How Much Missed Sales Calls Cost Car Dealerships and Repair Centers.

Additional Reading

Want to learn more about how Invoca can help you improve the phone call experience at your dealerships? Check out these resources:

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