Whether it’s a countdown of days until the end of the month or minutes needed to reply to an inbound email, in automotive, the clock is always ticking. When communicating with customers, timeliness matters, and failing to set up processes that ensure prompt, informative follow up to customer inquiries can put your dealership in jeopardy.

Real-time Expectations

Consumers are quick to the draw. According to the Mobile Marketing Association, 95 percent of text messages are read within 15 minutes of being received, meaning replies to chats, texts and emails your dealership receives should generally come within a matter of minutes, not hours or days. By responding promptly, you show consumers your dealership is listening and available, which can go a long way to establish relationships.

A related study reported by Harvard Business Review shows a similar trend. The research, which was conducted prior the major boom in smartphone adoption, highlights a steep drop in conversion when businesses fail to respond to customer inquiries within the first hour they’re submitted. It implies that the likelihood of having a meaningful sales conversation is tied to how fast a representative can reach out to answer questions and share information.

While the bar is set high, don’t be discouraged if your dealership falls short. Instead, work to make small improvements to response time, tracking your success on a weekly or monthly basis.

Benchmarking Success

However, before benchmarking your store’s lead handling and communication processes, look to understand the composition and structure of your team. Do you have a fully staffed BDC or does every salesperson field customer inquiries directly? Are team members provided smartphones to engage during off hours? Is there a dedicated staff member to handle weekend emails and chat messages? Is there a CRM system in place to track and manage conversations across communication channels?

By answering questions like those, you can set goals that are aligned with your dealership’s true capabilities. If you see an opportunity to provide additional resources or restructure workflows, take it.

Quality First

Finally, remember that speed matters, but a quick response is only as good as the quality of the message. Rather than choosing one or the other – speed or thoroughness – work to balance both; an immediate yet irrelevant reply will only damage your chances of building relationships with prospects. Conversely, by showing potential customers you’re there for them and willing to provide a timely, personalized experience, you’ll set yourself apart from competitors and boost showroom traffic for the long haul.

To learn more mobile communication best practices, check out our recent article, 6 Smartphone-Friendly Best Practices to Increase Your Dealership’s Show Rate.