June 23, 2005, 12:00 AM

Why car dealers should build more web-centric contact centers

Car dealers with an integrated web strategy as part of their call or business development center close more deals and generate about $450 more per sale, but 42% of Internet leads go unanswered, says new research from The Cobalt Group Inc.

Making the web a more integral part of a customer contact center will pay dividends for automotive retailers, says new research from The Cobalt Group Inc., an automotive retailing research and applications development company.

Today, auto dealer call center operations are morphing into what Cobalt says are business development centers that among other things centralize and better mange the dealer’s phone, mail and Internet sales correspondence.

With a centralized approach, business development center reps can respond more quickly to sales leads. Many dealers are still lax in how quickly they respond to an Internet sales inquiry. Cobalt says that 42% of Internet leads still go unanswered and 57% of who submit an Internet lead believe that the dealer did not effectively answer their questions.

But dealers with an integrated web strategy as part of their call or business development center close more deals and generate about $450 more per sale. Customers who receive an actual response from a dealer’s business development center within two hours of contact are also 20% more likely to buy and 50% more satisfied with the auto retailer’s Internet process, Cobalt says.

An integrated business development center also ensures that inbound phone and web communications are centralized, that key customer information is captured and that firm customer appointments are scheduled for the sales staff, says Kevin Root, vice president and general manager of dealer advisory services for Cobalt.

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