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 |  Mar 15 2011, 11:48 AM

You can have the best car in the world, but if the sales and service experience leaves a lot to be desired, it can spoil the entire ownership experience, as well as ruin chances of repeat business or gaining new customers.

A new study, released by Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index (try saying that with a full mouth) turned up some interesting findings, specifically when it came to what’s called Internet Lead Effectiveness rankings.

The study measured average dealership performance for all brands selling vehicles in the US and discovered that it varied widely depending on the brand. Toyota, Lexus and Honda dealerships were shown to rank highest in terms of responding to customer inquiries over the internet.

Pied Piper’s study uses a patent pending process to tie ‘mystery shopping’ measurement and scoring to actual sales success; with 19 different ‘Internet Lead Effectiveness’ questions that generate scores on aspects such as Timeliness in response to customer inquiries, dealership and sales person identification, quality of communication and forwarding the sale.

The study was conducted between September 2010 and March 2011, but even though it showed that customer response time via internet leads as improved significantly, around 9 in 10 enquires are given a response within 24 hours, compared to around 6 out of 10 just three years ago, getting a response to a specific question from a customer is still lagging – Pied Piper Management reporting that of all such inquiries to dealers from customers, only around 64 percent are answered within a 24 hour period.

[Source: Pied Piper Management Company]