SUNNYVALE, Calif. — Significant shortfalls remain in the speed and comprehensiveness of dealers' responses to Internet leads, according to the 2010 ResponseLogix Mystery Shopping Study.

“The surprising results of this study indicate dealers are still in the beginning stages of driving the necessary improvements to Internet sales practices that ensure optimal sales results,” said ResponseLogix CEO Tom Mohr.

The study, which was conducted in October 2010, analyzed the responses of more than 1,300 dealerships across the United States. The study confirmed that the majority of Internet replies fell short of the minimum standard consumers expect, as indicated in past consumer studies conducted by CapGemini, J.D. Power and Associates and others.

Past studies showed that conversion can double when a consumer receives a response within 20 minutes. Consumers want a price quote, not a generic non-quote response. They seek vehicle details in the quote, and want to see multiple vehicle alternatives. Yet the ResponseLogix study revealed that less than 1 percent of responses gave consumers a multi-vehicle price quote, with full pricing and incentive information, with vehicle details, arriving in 20 minutes or less.

“The fact that so few lead responses meet the consumer’s expectation presents an enormous challenge and opportunity to the auto dealer community,” Mohr said. “The dealer that masters these best practices will gain a decisive advantage over his competitors.”

The study showed that 12 percent of leads received no response at all. Fifty-eight percent of responses did not include the price. Thirty percent of the responses were price quotes. The median response time was three minutes, mostly driven by automatic “auto-responders” triggered by the dealership’s CRM system.

For price quotes, however, the median response time was 1.1 hours. Seventy percent of the price quote responses included just one vehicle. Only 2 percent of the price quotes included multiple vehicles, with vehicle details and incentive information included. The percentage of price quotes received in less than 20 minutes that included this level of detail was below 1 percent.

“The arrival of a lead is the ‘moment of truth.’ The consumer has put three to four dealers on trial. The dealer who can respond with a multi-vehicle price quote right away, showing full vehicle detail and accurate pricing and incentive information, will establish the customer’s trust and win the day. Dealers who bring together the tools and processes necessary to execute successfully on this key success factor will outperform the dealers who don’t,” Mohr said.