Ford’s
Lincoln Mercury division is adding a “personal consultant service” for internet
shoppers at all of its U.S. dealerships.

Consumers access the service through Lincoln and Mercury’s websites. They can
e-mail information requests directly to a personal consultant who acts as intermediary
between the consumer and the dealership, setting up test-drives, and helping
answer product and general financing questions.


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Limcoln Mercury claims the extra personal touch is paying off. Closing rates
and customer satisfaction scores have been higher in test markets, when compared
to BuyerConnection.com – the company-wide vehicle configurator.

"The closing rate for consumers using personal consultant have been nearly
double that for the regular BuyerConnection link," says Lincoln Mercury
internet programs manager Randy Berlin.

"And the quality of the leads we’re sending the dealers is better than
the ones they receive through the all-makes buying services.

Berlin adds that the satisfaction rate with the dealer experience is higher
as well.

"Our data show that 90 percent of consumers indicate that they’re completely
satisfied with the dealer experience after using the personal consultant service,
versus a figure in the 50 percent range for BuyerConnection."

The personal consultant service has been tested in five U.S. regions and was
so well received by dealers and consumers that it is being expanded.

U.S. research shows that the internet is growing as an information-gathering
tool to shop for vehicles. Sixty percent of consumers do online research before
they buy and about 11 percent are initiating the purchase online.










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