The nation’s largest dealer groups lead the pack in online customer service, according to a report released Monday by Pied Piper, a retail service tracker.

Pied Piper used 20 Exemplary Behaviors to measure the effectiveness of Internet leads from 15 of the nation’s largest dealer groups. These include the Speed ​​and Quality categories, which account for 25% and 75% of a group’s score, respectively.

The company assessed every dealership in every group represented, with the exception of Automotive Management Services, where a sample of 50 stores was used.

Practices measured include how quickly a customer’s text or email is answered and whether a “human” responds to customers when using chat features on dealer websites.

In Pied Piper’s survey, 12 out of 15 groups scored above the industry average. Napleton Automotive Group, which ranks 13th Automotive News list of the top 150 US-based dealer groups, earned top marks, with a score of 74 out of 100.

Penske Automotive Group, ranked #3 on the Automotive News list, and Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, which is not on the Automotive News list, ranked second and third, with scores of 70 and 67, respectively.

Ken Garff Automotive Group, which ranks No. 9 on the list of top dealership groups, came last in the study, with a score of 48.

The average score of the groups surveyed was 59, while the average industry score sits at 55, which means that the largest dealer groups in the country generally score better than non-group stores in terms of responsiveness. website.

Fran O’Hagan, CEO of Pied Piper, said that in her former career in the automotive industry, large dealer groups were rarely the best at online customer service. Now that has changed.

“They could figure out how to buy multiple dealers, but they didn’t really know how to manage them,” O’Hagan said. Automotive News. “That has completely changed in the meantime.”

Much of the progress on the online customer service front can be attributed to the attitude of top brass, O’Hagan said. He said leaders of the dealer groups he’s spoken to, like the Penske Automotive Group, prioritize web responsiveness.

“The key is not the employee doing it. The key is up to the top of the organization,” he said. “This part of the business is something they recognize and work on as a top priority.

“If you talk to executives at Penske and say, ‘How important is how your dealerships respond to web customers? they will talk about it for 20 minutes. »

Going forward, O’Hagan said web responsiveness will become more important than in-person sales, if it isn’t already.

“I think we’re already there,” he said. “If we do a good job with our website, we engage them. We encourage them to contact us and communicate with us.”

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