Sunday, February 27, 2011

Check Your E-mail

When we bought the new car a few weekends ago, we decided to buy and bought the same day. To help that process along, I decided to try out a feature on edmunds.com where you can e-mail local dealers to get an online quote. You select your car and options, and the local dealers you want to e-mail for a quote. Conveniently the site accommodated spur-of-the-moment purchasers like us by allowing you to select when you want to purchase and giving a 'next 24 hours' option.

Since I filled this out about 45 minutes before we left the house to go buy the car, speed in reply was of the essence. All the dealerships had the auto-reply 'we will be contacting you shortly' down, but Inver Grove Honda took things to the next level, actually calling me back within about 15-20 minutes and giving me a quote on the phone and setting up an appointment for us to come look at the car (with it waiting at the door when we pulled up). Richfield Honda was the only dealership brave enough to offer up a quote without calling me first. Unfortunately for them, their quote came in several hours later and a couple hundred dollars more expensive. Next.

Burnsville Honda's response was an even bigger disappointment. They never did e-mail a quote, and didn't even return the inquiry by phone until about 7-8 hours later. On the way to Inver Grove we actually called to try to get the quote proactively. After waiting on hold for a while, and hearing how 'everyone was busy' eventually the general manager gave us a quote for $75 less than Inver Grove. At that point despite Burnsville Honda being much more conveniently located, after all the rigmarole and the only slightly lower negotiating starting point, we just went ahead and did the test drive and purchase with Inver Grove.

So basically Burnsville Honda's slow response to web inquiries lost them a sale. When your only differentiation amongst the other dozen dealers in the same metro area selling identical merchandise is customer service, perhaps you might want to take any inquiry seriously. Even if it does come from a mass-submital form on the web.

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