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Auto industry must prepare for post-lockdown demand

Automotive dealers and service centres must prepare for a dramatic and sustained spike in new enquiry volumes, as the end of the third national lockdown approaches – according to research from Moneypenny.

Moneypenny handles more than 600,000 calls and live chats for automotive dealers and service centres across the UK.

Its latest figures show that during the first two lockdowns, telephone enquiries fell by 23% (26 March -1st July 2020) and 21% (4 November – 2nd December 2020) respectively, compared with pre lockdown levels.

However in the weeks that followed, there was sustained demand higher than the pre lockdown average.

Following the first lockdown, telephone enquiry volumes were 66% up on pre lockdown volumes – a 30% increase on the same period in 2019.

In the first week after the second lockdown, although enquiries volumes initially fell (only 5% behind the volumes recorded in 2019), the run-up to Christmas saw a 22% increase on the previous year.

Since January, Moneypenny has also seen an 25% increase in the number of automotive businesses using live chat on their websites – which suggests the sector is making better use of digital tools to keep in touch with customers, nurture leads and support click and collect services during lockdown.

Stephanie Vaughan-Jones, Head of Automotive Sector at Moneypenny said: “While it’s not surprising that lockdown created pent up demand, it’s encouraging to see that it’s not just for the first few days outside of lockdown – but for a sustained period of four to seven weeks.

“Now that the Prime Minister’s Roadmap has been published and the end of lockdown three is in sight, there is much more hope and certainty which should translate into increased consumer confidence and spending.

“Being able to meet predicted demand and answer a significantly increased volume of telephone calls is critical to the sector’s recovery. With dealers not due to open until April 12th they must use the coming weeks to prepare and put the necessary resource and support in place to meet demand.”

This is particularly sage advice as earlier this year, Moneypenny also reported that 85% of people think UK businesses are using Covid as an excuse for long call and live chat wait times – rather than putting adequate customer service support in place.

Stephanie added “There’s just no excuse for this, particularly not almost a year into the pandemic. Consumers expect businesses across all sectors to have adapted by now.

“Long call and live chat waiting times are essentially saying to customers they are not important, which will lead to lost car sales and aftercare. Ensuring a positive, timely, professional and efficient first impression is imperative to dealer performance and getting the sector through the worst slump in new car sales in recent years.”

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