Monthly Archives: April 2020

Leveraging machine learning to qualify consumers in real-time

TLA has been qualifying consumers to an industry-leading standard since 2002 via a 40-person contact centre trained to provide consumers the best experience, while complying with the highest standards and regulations in force.

Through investment into a PhD-level team of data scientists, TLA has created a new consumer validation process that ultimately enables consumers to get to car dealers quicker than ever.

What does this mean?

Consumers and retailers can be connected to dealers by TLA within minutes of initial enquiry. Qualified enquiries are being dropped into retailers’ CRM systems in real-time with more data and insight than ever before, facilitating the sales process. The result? A process that can sometimes take days now takes only minutes, resulting in a higher contact rate and more sales for our clients. For the consumer, it means a better service and superior experience by being able to speak with the right retailer and access the right information faster than ever.

Does this mark the end of contact centres?

No, it allows them to prosper. Adopting a blended approach ensures digital qualification and contact centre activity complement one another. Imagine walking through the security scanner of an airport. If there is no doubt, you just walk through but if something were flagged, you would be asked to step aside for additional search. Real-time qualification is the same: consumers at an exploratory purchase stage, for example, may be nurtured through expert contact centre support, while mature consumers with clear intent connect with retailers directly.

How does it work?

Every consumer journey from enquiry to purchase is unique. Positions in the buying cycle differ too. Advanced statistical methods and machine-learning algorithms allow us to analyse precisely the consumer’s digital behaviour to then exactly identify their current position in the buying cycle. This automated decision-making process guides each consumer along the best route to connect with retailers, either directly into their CRM or through our contact centre for further enrichment. The uncertainty of consumer intent is accurately quantified, ensuring in-market consumers and retailers connect at the right time.

At TLA, we pride ourselves on innovation. Our novel real-time qualification technology benefits both consumers and retailers by connecting them faster than ever, with the right information on hand.

As the UK’s largest provider of sales-qualified automotive consumer leads, this product will allow TLA to further push market boundaries. For our clients, it means more sales. And for their consumers, a much better experience.

Paul Byrnes, Data Scientist

If you would like to know more about this product and how it can help drive more sales, please get in touch at [email protected]

Empowering retailers with consumer insight

TLA will soon be rolling out an enhanced data view to provide retailers with more consumer information, supporting sales efforts.

As the UK’s largest provider of sales-qualified consumer leads to the automotive industry, we speak with around 1000 in-market car and van buyers every day, qualifying their enquiries and guiding their next vehicle purchase. During the course of these conversations, we collect a range of information about each consumer, above and beyond that required by our clients.

When receiving 3rd party leads, however, retailers have historically received a restricted dataset due to field and integration restrictions created by the multitude of processing, CRM and DMS systems that work together to deliver that lead. As a result, much of this additional contextual data has not previously been leveraged by our clients.

We strongly believe that this data can help to empower the retailer salesperson, enabling them to tailor their response and drive an improved consumer experience. For consumers who are in the information search or, in particular, the alternative evaluation stage of their buying journey, a strong retailer experience can be very impactful in helping them make a purchase decision.

With that in mind, we will soon be rolling out our enhanced consumer view, available exclusively – at no additional cost – for all Platform X clients.

What is the enhanced consumer view?

The enhanced view is a sales support interface that will be accessible via a web link that TLA pass through with every lead generated. On opening the link, retailers will have access to an enhanced view, encompassing all of the data that TLA has collected in the course of its digital and verbal interactions with the consumer. This requires use of an existing “notes” field or the addition of a single new field to CRM and dealer management systems, overcoming the time and effort required in adding new fields to house the additional and ever-growing dataset.

The interface will also include in-built communication options that retailers can use to engage with the consumer via their preferred channel. Available channels will initially include SMS, email and a live chat option, with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger in the roadmap. All communication will be done natively within the interface and will allow for engagement via multiple channels.

The key driver of this activity for TLA is alignment. With the increasing fragmentation of the media landscape, retailers must remain aligned with consumers wherever they can. The data that TLA provides will help create a more complete view of the consumer, allowing retailers the opportunity for a better contact rate, improved engagement and, ultimately, a higher rate of conversion. The current circumstances demand effective handling of every lead, and we believe that this feature empowers retailers to do just that.

This is just one of the features designed for retailer empowerment that TLA will be adding to Platform X in the coming weeks and months, and follows our announcement of the availability of TLA’s remote telephony service to Platform X clients and partners.

Look out for more new features in the very near future!

Best regards,

Ed Clark
Chief Product Officer, TLA

The consumer impact begins to take shape

As COVID-19 continues its hold on the country, the impact on consumer behaviour is becoming clearer.


The last month has been characterised by demand-side uncertainty, with consumers battling logistical challenges and mixed messaging. Lockdown, however, has created some semblance of certainty – or as close to as it we are likely to come – and that has filtered down to elements of consumer digital behaviour.

The stories we’ve seen this week show a wide distinction in fortunes between first-party and third-party sites. For the former, Sophus3 reported this week that UK OEM sites had seen a 62% drop in daily visits since the start of lockdown in the UK, a trend that held across all page types. In fact, the share of visits to each page type – brochure, dealer locator, test drive, offers and configurator – did not change, falling proportionally with volume.

With regards to the latter, ComScore reported this week that, in line with a huge surge in social activity, publisher sites have seen a significant increase in user visits since the imposition of lockdown conditions across Europe’s “Big 5”, with the UK seeing an increase of nearly 50% to news sites between the first and third weeks of March.

The trend is becoming clearer: consumers are looking for news with greater relish, have more time to browse content, and are choosing third-party sites as their preferred destination.

What does this mean for brands?


Third-party publisher sites offer the most direct access to consumer eyeballs in current circumstances. While the numbers would suggest that engagement has suffered – with metrics down across the board, both for first- and third-party sites – we would argue that, in the case of automotive, this is a question of the messaging and value that consumers are presented with, and how it appeals to their stage in the buying funnel.

The distortion of the buying funnel has not necessarily removed intent, but extended purchase timescales. A 44% year-on-year fall in new vehicle registrations in March confirms that, in the short-term, purchase activity will be significantly reduced as consumer confidence wanes, but this does not condemn the medium-term future of automotive retail; as Auto Trader reported this week, 88% of consumers will use the lockdown period to research their next purchase, and 60% plan to purchase later in the year.

As requirements change, TLA is leveraging first- and third-party publisher networks to engage with buyers with a longer purchase timeframe; those who displayed pre-lockdown intent, but now have no viable mechanism to buy and have therefore extended their timescale to 3-6 months, rather than TLA’s typical 0-3. The needs of these consumers have shifted, with an increasing appetite for deals and offers and wider consideration sets, as buyers consider more affordable alternatives.

Engaging with these consumers during the coming months will be crucial for brands looking to accelerate away from lockdown and into a successful second half of 2020. More time for research, alongside affordability concerns, will challenge brands to retain brand-loyal buyers, and will present others with an opportunity to win away buyers from competitors. Engaging with consumers now and interjecting during their extended research process will provide the opportunity to get ahead when the time comes for dealers to reopen.

Platform X clients provided access to TLA’s remote telephony service – at no additional cost

“Future-proofing” has long been an obsession of ours at TLA. Since our founding in 2002, we have consistently asked the question “what’s next?” when determining how our business should operate, and have a long and storied history of technological innovation, in terms of both internal business systems and products and services for our clients.

It was that question that, three years ago, led us to start development of our own contact centre telephone exchange, built upon the Twilio SAAS platform. At the time, we were thinking about how the consumer engagement landscape was going to change, and how our systems could support a widely-distributed, multi-channel operation. The result was a cloud-based solution that removed the restrictions imposed by standard hardware-based contact centre systems, and provided complete flexibility, as well as – thankfully – a foundation for business continuity.

And it was with that in mind that two weeks ago, in anticipation of the instruction to ask staff to work remotely, we sent all our contact centre operatives home with laptops and headsets and continued our work seamlessly, without a single issue. In some instances, we have even seen improvements in call quality due to reductions in background noise and operatives adopting a more relaxed tone of voice.

Despite the obvious benefits, this decision to use Twilio technology was not purely focused around our own contact centre. We know that the dealer sales staff handling our leads could potentially benefit from our cloud-based contact systems, and this became a core tenet during the development of Platform X, our blockchain-based consumer acquisition platform. It is with that in mind that we will be making our remote telephony services available to all Platform X clients as of today.

Given the current situation, with widespread closure of retailer showrooms, there are significant benefits that this service can provide to retailers working remotely. Simply routing existing numbers to our system, we can enable a retailer team to be handling inbound and outbound calls from a laptop and headset within a matter of hours, including call recording services and inbound “hunt” groups for larger operations. The system has been running a 30-person contact centre, handling over 10,000 calls per day, for 3 years, so has been very well tested!

This is just one of several new features that we are working on to empower retailers during these challenging times, and will soon be announcing the launch of the extended data view service to our Platform X clients.

In the meantime, should you require any other assistance or guidance in supporting your retailer operations during the current crisis, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best regards,

Ed Clark
Chief Product Officer, TLA