How to Improve Customer Response Times at Your Dealership


In the fast-paced world of auto sales, providing exceptional customer service is crucial for building loyalty and driving repeat business. One of the most important elements of great customer service is prompt response time. When customers reach out with inquiries or requests, they expect timely replies and solutions. Dealerships that fail to meet customer expectations for response risk losing sales opportunities and damaging their reputations.

When considering a major purchase like a vehicle, timely communication can make or break a customer's decision to work with your dealership. By making customer response time a priority, you build trust, satisfaction and loyalty with car buyers. The good news is that with some strategic focus, dealers can drastically improve customer response times. Here are some proven tips for enhancing responsiveness across your showroom:

Set Crystal Clear Expectations

Being upfront with customers about realistic response times prevents disappointment and shows you respect their time. The average email response time customers hope for is 6 hours, while 24 hours is typically acceptable for online inquiries. For sales call leads and service customers bringing in vehicles, shorter response times may be expected.

Here are some tips on setting expectations:

  • List target response times on your website, social media, and marketing materials so customers know what to anticipate. For example, "We respond to website inquiries within 24 hours."

  • When customers call or email with a question or sales/service request, provide an accurate timeline for when they can expect follow up.

  • If delays come up preventing you from meeting communicated timelines, proactively let the customer know and provide a new expected response time.

Employees should also be trained on ideal response timeframes. Setting and sharing explicit standards helps align customers and staff around reasonable wait times for replies.

Seeking Regular Customer Feedback

Understanding current customer perception of your responsiveness allows you to identify areas needing improvement. Online review sites offer some feedback, but the best way to learn is by directly asking customers.

  • After purchase/service, email a survey asking customers to rate their satisfaction with response times and provide suggestions.

  • Review survey feedback monthly to spot patterns and pain points around responsiveness.

  • Implement process changes to improve the areas identified by customers in order to exceed expectations.

Continuously improving response times based on changing consumer expectations and feedback shows customers their voice matters to your business. This builds lasting goodwill and trust.

Prioritizing Urgent Inquiries

Not all customer inquiries require an immediate response, but for time-sensitive requests it is crucial to act swiftly. Developing a system to categorize inquiry urgency can help ensure high priority cases get rapid resolution.

  • Sales call leads: Call back within 30 minutes so hot prospects don't lose interest and buy elsewhere. Email any unsaved voicemails to sales reps' inboxes so no leads slip through cracks.

  • Online price quote requests: Respond within 2 hours during business hours since customers often request quotes from multiple dealers. Follow up by phone to build rapport.

  • Service customers: Same day response for safety issues, break downs impacting transportation to work/school. Attempt to schedule urgent repairs right away.

  • General inquiries: 24-hour email or phone call back window is typically acceptable for questions about inventory, pricing, monthly specials etc.

By training staff on inquiry prioritization procedures and response time guidelines, you can delivery consistent, exceptional customer service. Check in occasionally to ensure priority follow-up continues.

Improving Response Time Pays Off

In the competitive auto industry, customer experience sets businesses apart. By clearly communicating, continuously improving, and prioritizing urgent response times, dealerships demonstrate professionalism and respect for consumers. Response time excellence leads to higher online reputation, customer retention, and sales conversions over the long-term.

Reach out to Vanguard Dealer Services today to learn more about how we can increase your profitability.


Knowledge powers your profits.

Our Road to ROI newsletter is a free resource with valuable advice and industry news - published every month. Subscribe now and stay up to date on everything you need to improve your bottom line.