How car dealers can plug into what their customers want

Michelle Param

By Michelle Param
27 Jul 2022

5 min read


The automotive industry has seen much disruption in recent years. Dealerships are now navigating a huge shift in consumer behaviour and the sharp rise in the 'plug-in purchase'; the electric vehicle market is booming.

Automotive manufacturers have reported that the only brands to post an uplift in sales during the first three months of 2022 were all-electric vehicles. This was against the backdrop of an overall industry decline in new vehicle sales of 15.3%. And here, in the UK, Britons bought more electric cars in March 2022 than they did in the whole of 2019.

With the rise in petrol costs, customer enquiries have increased with the volume of people carrying out Google searches on electric vehicles reaching an all-time high in March 2022.


More questions = more calls

With the appetite for electric vehicles accelerating, now is the time for automotive dealers to capitalise on huge revenue-generating opportunities. But, despite the growth of online platforms such as WeBuyAnyCar and Cazoo, a 2021 YouGov survey found that 62% of buyers are still not comfortable with making a car purchase entirely online.

Dealerships have also recognised that most of their customers who conduct their initial research online are preferring to engage with a real person when they get closer to seriously considering making a purchase. This can mean a visit to the dealership itself - or simply picking up the phone.

This is borne out in trend analysis, which shows that call volumes to the automotive industry have accelerated since the new year. In January 2022, for example, phone calls to automotive businesses were up 27.5% year-on-year. This upward trend continued into the following month, and by the end of February 2022, the total call volume was 19% higher than it was in 2021.


Supercharging your phone calls

When a customer picks up the phone to your dealership, your phone agents are at a critical part of the customers’ purchase journey. Your agents need to be fully equipped to capture as many insights as possible from these phone conversations to not only manage the lift in enquiries, but to make sure that each call results in a positive outcome.

But even while the sector has made huge investments in their digital channels, are dealers accurately tailoring content effectively in response to the rise of the electric opportunity? Are they driving traffic to their own channels, by building a landing page dedicated to EVs? Or signposting people to relevant content on the practicalities of owning an electric car?

Whether it’s to have their online research confirmed or to gain added reassurance before making a decision, customers are even more likely to call with their questions about electric vehicles as it’s likely to be a first-time purchase for most car buyers.


Optimise and analyse

A board member at one of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers was overheard at an auto show claiming that “the big challenge to selling EVs is training car dealers”.

Dealership training programmes are springing up to ‘educate dealers about the nuances of owning an electric vehicle’, so they can speed up their sales processes.

By tying online activity to the call centre, dealers can anticipate new purchase behaviours as well as building an understanding of consumer preferences and concerns. To understand the extent of the interest being generated by their own digital marketing campaigns, dealers can use Conversation Analytics to uncover the crucial insights from the conversations they have with customers – at scale.

Conversation Analytics can help dealers capture the data needed to build smoother customer journeys, resolve issues faster and reduce manual work involved in handling multiple calls. It can tell you things such as:


  • Why customers are getting in touch with you by monitoring and logging the topics of conversation, including any associated keywords and phrases.
  • The outcome of each call, so you can surface trends from calls that delivered positive or successful outcomes.
  • The outcome of the phone call, pinpointing exactly what makes the phone call experience positive or negative so you can make refinements from there.

And, if dealers use Conversation Analytics coupled with Agent ID and Outbound call tracking, they can track and analyse every single call that comes in - and goes out - of your contact centre. It’s also the perfect way to identify the tactics of your best-performing call agents and get a better handle on how your agents' follow up calls are going, so you can help them close higher value deals.

With this larger pool of insights into your phone calls, you can use the data to create more tailored training programmes and identify exactly how successful the calls coming in, and going out, of your contact centre are.


Sales of electric vehicles are outperforming all other vehicles in the sector and, at this rate, sales of EVs may outstrip diesel and petrol sales sooner than anyone predicted. To get ahead, dealers must get into gear and capitalise on all of the value hidden in their phone calls to turn customer enquiries into sales.

Every conversation that happens across your dealership matters – but it’s up to you to find out what matters in every conversation. Start one with us today to unlock the benefits of Conversation Analytics and make every call count.


Originally published in Contact Centre Briefing 

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