Cadillac ranked first in the 2023 Pied Piper Internet Lead Effectiveness Study that uses mystery shoppers to measure how well dealerships respond to online customer inquiries.
Infiniti, Volkswagen, Subaru, Toyota and Volvo followed the General Motors luxury brand in the annual ranking.
The study found that Cadillac dealerships, more than any other brand, get back to customers with questions right away. Cadillac dealers had ranked below the study’s industry average until 2019 but scored 72 out of 100 in the latest results
Other notable findings from the 13th survey were that dealerships' overall scores improved, showing they take digital retailing more seriously than in the past. In fact, industry average performance increased three points to a score of 58, an all-time high since the study began.
“Dealers have learned that they meet most of their customers online before anyone visits in person,” Pied Piper CEO Fran O’Hagan says. “And dealers who respond quickly, personally and completely to website customer inquiries simply sell more vehicles.”
Brands with the greatest improvement since the 2022 study were Polestar, Rivian, Ford, Mini, Volkswagen, Jaguar and Hyundai.
The six brands that failed to improve from 2022 to 2023 were Lexus, Mazda, Kia, Lucid, Dodge and Mercedes-Benz.
How well a dealership handles a digital inquiry affects whether a customer will ultimately visit a store, according to O’Hagan. He told Wards Auto that “most customers want someone holding their hand at some point in the process. Assisted digital retail is the right approach.”
The consultancy submitted mystery-shopper customer inquiries through 5,428 dealership websites. The “shoppers” asked a specific question about a vehicle in inventory and provided a customer name, email address and local telephone number. Pied Piper then evaluated how the dealerships responded over the following 24 hours. Twenty different measurements generate dealership scores on a scale of 100.
Highlights from the survey include:
How often did the brand’s dealerships email or text an answer to a website customer’s question within 30 minutes?
- More than 50% of the time on average: Cadillac, Infiniti, Polestar, Volkswagen
- Less than 30% of the time on average: Lucid, Tesla, Rivian, Mini
How often did the brand’s dealerships use a text message to answer a website customer’s inquiry?
- More than 30% of the time on average: Mitsubishi, Ram, Jeep, Kia, Mazda, Volvo
- Less than 10% of the time on average: Lucid, Tesla, Rivian, Polestar
How often did the brand’s dealerships respond by phone to a website customer’s inquiry?
- More than 70% of the time on average: Subaru, Acura
- Less than 35% of the time on average: Lucid, Tesla, Rivian, Land Rover, Fiat
How often did dealerships respond to the customer chat question (if the dealership website offered customer chat) within 30 seconds?
- More than 90% of the time on average, Volvo, Genesis and Mercedes-Benz dealerships
- Tesla, Rivian and Alfa Romeo on average did so less than 50% of the time.
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