Best PracticesDealership Operations & Processes

3 Core Issues with Mystery Shopping

How many thousands of hours have been used to develop scripts to respond to inbound calls?

Thousands of dollars and hours have been devoted to phone training. Thousands of hours have been spent on “corrective action” taken by managers in order to improve inbound sales call procedures. After all of this time and money, has the customer experience actually improved and how do you know?

One way dealerships measure this is through mystery shopping, and is it enough?

Here are 3 core issues with mystery shopping:

  1. The majority of manufacturer-driven mystery shopping anonymizes the inbound call or internet inquiry responses. Therefore, we can’t validate or verify what was said or written in response to customers’ questions.
  2. In any given month, even large dealerships only get a handful of mystery shop recaps. With this small of a sample size, there is not enough data to establish a month-to-month trend.
  3. Mystery shoppers aren’t real customers. They’re mystery shoppers. Real customers ask real questions whereas mystery shoppers ask staged questions. Why are you making real decisions or giving real feedback to your real employees based on a staged “role play” session?

If you’re not recording calls, you should!

If you’re not scoring calls, you should.
If you’re not reviewing scored calls with employees, you should.

At the first point of contact a customer makes with your dealership, she/he should get to experience the highest level of professionalism that your store(s) can muster up. If the level of professionalism or quality of the call is one iota short of what the customer expects, then it becomes a problem because their experience suffers from the very beginning of the sales process.

With the increase in mobile-friendly sites and overall mobile phone traffic over last year, it has become easier than ever for customers to call a store from the very device they’re using to browse your inventory.

My point is – more customers than ever before are calling dealerships for specific vehicles they see online. How do you ensure these calls are handled appropriately?

Record and score your calls

Generally, the only people within the dealership who are impartial and critical enough to reliably listen to, score, and review calls are the managers. But isn’t their time better used…managing.

The job of sifting through hours of recorded service/sales/parts/wrong number calls is not something that should be the responsibility of anyone within your organization.

Why? Time, money and objectivity.

No one within your organization should have the opportunity to influence results. What’s the Solution? A 3rd party company that offers call recording, scoring, and sometimes reviewing.

The only people who are unbiased enough to reliably and consistently score calls is someone who does not have any relationship (personal or professional) with any of your employees. When choosing a 3rd party company, ensure they have streamlined procedures in place with employees experienced in scoring calls on a standardized system.

We recommend that all calls be scored based on the same quantitative criteria, free from any outside (or inside) influence or favoritism.

Regularly review calls with employees

Ineffective management is inconsistent, punitive, and reactive whereas effective management is consistent, constructive, and proactive.

Think of how impactful your managers can be with consistent call scores with which they can review with their sales team during weekly 1-on-1 sessions. Each employee is not only given specific items to improve upon, but they are also given strategies, techniques and recommendations on how to improve. These are documented and then reviewed next week.

Positive aspects of calls are also covered so that each employee receives feedback on their strengths as well.

Having trouble convincing employees to use scripts?

After going through phone script training for the first time, an experienced sales person (Sam) approached the dealer (Leo) and expressed his disapproval because the script would make him sound “too robotic” and he would prefer to “wing it.” Unbeknownst to Sam, Leo had just listened to one of Sam’s calls from the day before.

What Leo said next was one of the most meaningful and humorous lines I’ve ever heard:

“Sam, I hope you sound like a robot! That’ll be a hell of a lot better than what I just listened to!”

Effective communication with customers is a top priority at any successful dealership. By recording, scoring, and reviewing real customer calls you are ensuring a positive customer experience.

Jon leads Driven Data’s vision, strategy, and growth, providing dealerships an analytics platform that serves as a long-term strategic asset. He ha...