Pied Piper, an automotive mystery shopping company, has carried out the ILE Study annually since 2011. The study ranks dealerships with a rating out a possible maximum 100 points based on their performance in responding quickly and effectively to online contacts from potential customers.
Buick scored 56 points for its dealership responsiveness during the study period of period from July 2022 to January 2023. This puts it two points below the auto industry’s overall average of 58 points for all 5,428 major car company dealerships across the U.S. that were considered in the study.
While Buick dealers ranked slightly below average for U.S. dealerships, they made several significant improvements in their performance. For one thing, the 56-point ranking of Buick dealerships improved by seven points from the previous year, while the average dealership improved by just three points year-over-year. This demonstrates Buick dealers are putting intensive effort into improving Internet service.
Buick dealers also closed the gap between their online performance and that of the average dealership nationwide. Buick scored 49 in last year’s ILE Study, six points below the 55 average industry rating. This year Buick dealers were only two points behind the average.
The ILE study’s 100-point scale ranks dealerships based on responsiveness to online customer inquiries, measuring performance in 20 different areas to generate a score for individual brands. Pied Piper gathered the necessary data by sending secret shopper customer inquiries dealerships during the study period, then analyzing the responses.
More points were given to dealerships that responded quickly to customer inquiries. Sending a personalized, detailed response addressing the contact’s specific concerns also increased ranking, as did response via multiple contact channels, including email, text messages, or telephone calls.
Pied Piper analysts subtracted points for failure to respond within 24 hours of contact or for using only a single communications channel for contact. Following a classic bell curve pattern, about 30 percent of dealerships registered a score above 80, while roughly 29 percent scored below 40 points.
Pied Piper notes a swift response to online customer contacts and information requests can be a crucial component in maintaining higher sales volume in the modern automotive market. As CEO Fran O’Hagan of Pied Piper said, “Dealers who respond quickly, personally, and completely to website customer inquiries simply sell more vehicles.”
Buick scored lowest in the 2023 ILE study out of GM’s four automotive brands. Cadillac topped the chart with a score of 72 points, pushing last year’s winner Infiniti to second place. Meanwhile, GMC and Chevy each scored 60 points, putting them in the middle of the pack, just two points above the industry average.
All four of The General’s brands improved their Internet Lead Effectiveness Score significantly year-over-year in the 2023 study.