The auto industry is doing a good job fielding social media questions from customers and shoppers, but dealerships too often fail to reach out to vehicle buyers after the sale, according to separate findings in a pair of new studies.
Sprout Social, which sells social media management tools and services, found the auto industry to be third among all industries in its responsiveness to customer service requests on social media.
It trailed only the banking/finance industry and utilities among 15 industries, according to an analysis of 160 million inbound messages on Facebook and Twitter across 20,000 brands and fan pages.
Andrew Caravella, Sprout Social's vice president of marketing, said the car companies were early users of social media and continue to see social media as important
to promote their brands and manage their reputations with customers.
"The auto industry has been attentive at the OEM level," Caravella said. The study, released in December, is the inaugural Sprout Social Index.
Less attentive to customer communication have been U.S. franchised dealerships, according to Maritz Research. There are nearly 18,000 such dealerships.
Maritz's Automotive Customer Journey Study, published in November, found that one in five car buyers commented that they were not contacted by the dealership right after the purchase.
And a like percentage felt the dealership didn't communicate enough during ownership of the vehicle.
The findings were from a survey in October of more than 4,200 car buyers who had purchased their vehicles within the past seven years.
That failure to keep in contact with customers is likely costing dealerships sales, said Chris Travell, Maritz Research vice president of strategic consulting for the automotive research group.
Three of every four respondents said they were not contacted by their dealership or manufacturer during the time they were shopping for another vehicle, Travell said. And just one year after purchasing a vehicle, 40 percent of the respondents said they were already thinking about their next purchase.
Travell said after a brief honeymoon of communication between dealers and buyers, "things tend to go dark."
The natural cadence of coupons and other customer-retention mailers are OK for a while. But dealerships should not forget to touch base with customers, over the phone or with personal messages, Travell said.
"Customers want interaction," he said.
"They want dialogue with their dealers."