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What a customer hears — or doesn’t hear — on the phone

Liz Hochstedler, Managing Editor — Powersports Business
February 5, 2013
Filed under From the Editors

When customers call your dealership and get put on hold, what do they hear? Are they treated to an exuberant “Welcome to Joe Schmo’s Cycle, where we carry the greatest brands in town. Did you know most of our staff has been here 10 years or more, and they can’t wait to get you on your dream bike,” or do they hear elevator music?

Working for a magazine like Powersports Business requires that I call a lot of dealerships, and one of the things I’ve noticed is how different dealerships handle their phones, including what happens when customers are put on hold.

No business likes to put customers on hold, but it happens. Sometimes it takes a second to page the right employee, or the salesperson requested may be just finishing up with another customer, or other circumstances may lead to your customer being put on hold for a few seconds or a minute or so.

If customers hear elevator music, they get no sense about your dealership’s culture. As they’re waiting, they’ll slowly get frustrated and distracted. Hopefully you’re able to pick up before they give up on you or forget what they’re calling for.

But what happens when they hear an excited, ”Did you know we’re having our annual open house this Saturday? We’ll have free food, a band, kids activities and discounts on some of your favorite gear. We’re sorry for the wait, but someone on staff will be with you shortly.”

Instead of getting distracted by non-powersports thoughts, that customer might start thinking about how she doesn’t have anything scheduled for Saturday, and she could really use a new riding jacket, and if that’s on sale, maybe she can afford some new boots as well. When your parts staffer gets to the phone, her first question might be, “Can you tell me more about this event this weekend? I’m looking for a jacket, and it sounds like Saturday might be a good day to stop by.” The customer is thinking about spending money at your dealership and not whether or not she should stop for groceries on the way home from work today.

Yes, I’m sure there’s a cost associated to having personalized on-hold content, but think about your marketing audience. The message is going directly to your customers, those who are already calling you for a reason and who are already interested in what you have to sell. If you get upsell out of that, the system should pay for itself.

Besides, the on-hold promotion also lends credibility to your dealership. When I call and I hear a staffer talking about store promotions while on hold, I think this is a business that knows what it’s doing and knows how to talk to its customers. Don’t you want your customers to feel the same way?

Liz Hochstedler is the managing editor of Powersports Business, a trade magazine for the powersports industry. She reports on the powersports industry through Powersports Business’ varied media, including in the magazine and online. She assembles the brand’s twice-a-week e-news and handles a variety of assignments for the magazine. Powersports Business is known for its exclusive national dealer surveys, in-depth industry analysis and dealership conference, Profit Xcelerator.

Contact: ehochstedler@powersportsbusiness.com
Website: www.powersportsbusiness.com

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