Why Tracking an Average Response Time on Internet Leads is Wrong

Everybody in the industry knows that we need to respond to our Internet leads
right away. This is the age of immediacy! You can go online and find out any
information you need within a matter of moments, so it stands to reason that when
somebody emails a dealership asking for something – for example, a price and
availability quote on a vehicle – that customers have an expectation that we respond
to them very quickly. So quick response times are very important and we all want
to track that because, as good managers, we track activities that get us results.
Additionally, drawing from the Process Pillar of Internet success, there are seven
points that a dealership must execute in their lead handling process to maximize
their close rate. Quick response times are one of those seven.

However, most dealerships track and manage quick responding in the form of
averages. Mathematically speaking, though, an average response time actually
disguises what is really taking place in a dealership. At the end of the day, you can’t
manage a store if you are simply tracking an average response time.

Let me give you an example: You give your Internet Sales Manager 100 leads to
handle, telling her that quick response times are very important and that she needs
to be at an average response time of 30 minutes or less. Let’s say 50% of the time,
the ISM emails the lead immediately from her smart phone, stopping the clock
at one minute. But for the other 50 leads, she takes an hour to respond, which is
absolutely unacceptable. In fact, some studies show that if it takes more than 20
minutes to get ahold of a customer, your chances of closing that deal drop by 80%!
So the ISM more or less threw half the leads down the toilet by taking so long to
respond, yet because she responded within one minute to the other 50 leads, she’s
met the average 30-minute response time. And for those that she responded to so
quickly, perhaps she did so in such poor quality that she wouldn’t connect with the
customer anyway.

We can get to defining what a quality response looks like in future articles, but in the
meantime, what metric are you supposed to measure for response times in order to
better manage your store? You have to manage what we call Top Box Scoring. Top
Box Scoring frames your question in a different like. It mean no longer asking “What
is the average response time,” but instead asking “what percent of the time did you
respond to the lead in less than 20 minutes with a quality response (that you’ve
previously defined)?” By managing your response times with Top Box Scoring, you
can then approach your ISM and ask them, “I gave you 100 leads last month. What
percent of the time did you respond with a high quality response in the time frame
I gave you?” In this case, when she reports that she only did it 50% of the time,
that’s unacceptable, but now we have somewhere to work from (even though you’d
previously be giving her a high five because you thought she reached an average
response time of 30 minutes). However, when she can respond by saying that she’s
done what you’ve asked within the time frame you’ve asked 90% of the time, now
you know that she’s doing her job 90% of the time.

It’s Top Box Scoring – What percent of the time did the employee execute the
process that you asked them to execute in the time frame that you gave them to
complete the task? That’s the metric that you want to measure. Quick response
time is vitally important to having a high close rate on the Internet and to having
success online, but simply measuring the average response time doesn’t give you
the accurate data that you need to manage your dealership. Top Box Scoring does.

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