Community

Share your automotive expertise

2 Write a Blog Post

Filed in: Marketing

Website Chat Should Shoot for Quality First, Quantity Second

By JD Rucker on Mar 10, 2014

TearingDowntheWall.jpg?width=750

There's a disturbing trend I'm seeing in the automotive industry when I visit websites. Perhaps it's been like this for a while and I simply took my eye off the chat ball. When I see chat windows that instantly prompt for the customer's contact information, it makes me cry a little inside.

This isn't what chat is supposed to be about. I'd love to have that debate with anyone. Chat is an alternative means of instant information. In other words, it's more akin to phone calls than to anything else. If you believe in having a barrier of entry for your customers to chat, then you should have your receptionist answer the phone with, "Thank you for calling XYZ Motors. Can I have your name, phone number, and email address, please? No? Okay, thank you for calling."

Click.

I totally understand how this came about. Chat companies were pressured to generate leads and that became the only goal. If you, as a car dealer, believe this, then I would contend that you've either been misled or you've lost touch with what chat should really do. There are two parts: lead generation AND customer service. Some people call the dealership to find out when the parts department closes. You don't need their contact information in order to tell them a time over the phone just as you should not require their contact information to give them the time over chat.

Whether you believe it or not, here's a fact that common sense should tell you: you're making some of your website visitors unhappy by creating a barrier to inquiry. Some people (more than we all want to admit) will never give their contact information before coming in. Unless your leads have a 100% appointment ratio, a 100% show ratio, and your lead volume is at 90% of your total traffic to the dealership itself, this fact should be clear. Despite what the up-log says, your customers are not driving by randomly. They went online. They've probably been to your website.

With that understanding, why would a dealership want to put a bad taste in their customers' mouths before they even decide to come by the dealership?

Serve your customers the information they want online without prejudice. Don't force them to fill out a lead form first. A skilled operator should be trained to work with people during chat, determine if they're a valid prospect, and gather the information the dealership wants DURING the chat process, not before. Will volume decrease? Maybe. Maybe not. I am no expert but I would imagine that the people who come into chat that wouldn't have entered because of the lead information wall will be more likely to leave their information as their questions are being answered.

You don't just want leads. You want good leads. You want great leads. Chat should be the best of both worlds, combining the dialogue potential of the phone with the information gathering of a lead form. If you make them fill out the form ahead of time, you're pushing away many who want to have a dialogue first. This is a big mistake.

Some would say, "If they're serious, they'll fill out the form, first." BS. There are plenty of serious buyers who want information but who have had bad experiences when they fill out lead forms. There's a reason lead form submissions are on the decline. People have been burnt in the past. Get them into a conversation first, then pursue the lead when appropriate. That's the right way to handle it.

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, "Mr. Chat Provider - tear down this wall."

Comments

People chat for multiple reasons; they want to maintain anonymity or they are in a position where they can't talk on the phone, or they just want quick answers.

When chatting, think of it as pacing & leading. Give the customer the answers to the questions they ask. Or offer them your contact information first - then it makes it easier to ask for theirs.

In my experience with chat, if it's a "good" chat lead, they'll give you their contact information at their own pace. All customers move at different paces.

With all this being said, I don't see ANY issue at all in asking for their first name right off the bat - after all, it's rude to not introduce yourself at the beginning of a conversation, right? I have many custom responses set up in my chat to make getting contact information easier. Maybe you & I can do a "case study" on it sometime, JD? :-)

Mar 11, 2014

A lot of the problem with chat is the dealers views on what chat should do. I speak on this quite a bit. The main hiccup is you have dealers that don't look at the customer as anything other than a piece of data or a lead. Many dealers just want the info of the consumer and don't want to really answer the consumer's question because they feel if they answer all these questions online it gives the car buyer no reason to come into the dealership. Great topic JD

Mar 11, 2014

I agree with this and in our dealerships we converted chats to car sales around 80% of the time BECAUSE WE DID EXACTLY THIS. We were there to help, to assist, to be friendly and inviting. We required a first name because we used their name to be courteous and friendly. After answering questions and inviting them in, prospective customers would come to the stores and ask for their chat representative by name (chats were taken from our BDC department). Prior to that method, there was a "chat answering company" that my dealer unfortunately PAID to have a call center answer chats and they required a laundry list of personal information - that failed miserably. GREAT POST! Wholeheartedly agree.

Mar 11, 2014

Time to look at them and pick one. The more I dig into this mess the more I realize that there's good and bad about all of the chat providers. Anyone who has a recommendation or who can demo me on their products, please ping me directly or comment here. Thanks!

Mar 13, 2014

Comments 1 - 4 of 4

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:

   

JD Rucker's Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • 6 Things You Should Know About Email Marketing

    Of all the marketing methods, both conquest and customer, email is the most cost effective and returns the highest return on investment than any other channel. Of course this is only true if you know these six tips to get the most out of your email marketing. Subject Lines Did you know 33% of recipients open an email based on the subject line alone?1 Think of the subject line as your email’s headline. It should be brief, no more than 35-40 characters in length, for easy viewing on a mobile device. The content of your subject line should provide actionable information that represents the major content of your email. Always avoid using strong promotional attributes like multiple exclamation points or words in all caps. If you’re unsure of your selected subject line, test a couple out to determine which one receives the most opens. From Line Did you know 70% of people open emails from their favorite companies?2 This exact reason is why it is very important to use your dealership’s...Read post

  • Get In The Game! Gamification Best Practices For Your Dealership

    While gamification seems to be an emerging term in the automotive vertical, it's been a stable marketing tactic in others for years now. We've seen it in social media, different location based apps on our phones to training software. If you find that your dealership is looking to employ gamification into your marketing mix there are some simple best practices you will want to review with your staff and your vendors prior to launching. Know your business goals: Your marketing strategies need to align with your dealership's business goals. If you employ gamification as part of that strategy it has to align as well. Gamification isn't just to make your website content more interesting, clear KPAs need to be defined to ensure success. You need to define clear cut results to measure whether or not your efforts are successful or not. Make scoring and winning straight forward: In an article published last year by Michael Brenner, it's communicated that our average attention span is ...Read post

  • Retention, Loyalty or Acquisition Marketing?

    We all want new customers. And it’s certainly mandatory to retain a customer to create a loyal one. But how we market our dealerships is increasingly important -- as each form of marketing will deliver different results. The three terms: loyalty, retention and acquisition marketing, all have their own distinct meanings and should be used to satisfy different goals and objectives. While they are often not distinguished differently within most dealerships, they truly have different meanings, and will generate different results.   According to the experts at the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of customer loyalty is as follows:   “The fact of a customer buying products or services from the same company over a long period of time.”   According to Wikipedia, customer retention is defined as follows:   “Customer retention is the activity that a selling organization undertakes in order to reduce customer defections.”   And acquisition marketing is defined as th...Read post

  • Connecticut Ford Dealership Launches Chevy Marketing Campaign?

    At some point, "social" media stopped being "social" for many dealerships...who decided it's better to talk TO customers than to engage them. This marketing campaign with a Connecticut Ford dealership turns that concept upside down.Read post

  • The Quick Answer Scenario Makes More Sales Happen

    We all love to focus on leads. That's the name of the game in pretty much everything you do on your website. Many dealers are starting to understand that it's not all about leads since many people, particularly mobile visitors, are not filling out forms as they were in the past. Still, it's a big focus. One thing we've seen over the years is that sometimes a happy potential customer can be earned by simple customer service. When people come to your website, it can take a quick answer to an easy question that can be the difference in making a sale or not. Chat is the easiest way be there for your website visitors. Many people don't want to make a phone call and filling out a form to get a quick answer is not appropriate. Maybe they just want to see if a vehicle is available before they hop int he car. Perhaps they want to know if you take trade ins (yes, there are people who aren't sure). Whatever their need is, the presence of a chat operator to answer their questions is necessar...Read post

  • Jameson Irish Whiskey Takes Video Marketing to the Next Level

    Jameson Irish Whiskey has taken video marketing on Instagram to another level – “the first brand to successfully utilize 3D video for advertisements on Instagram and Facebook,” according to a recent article in the Independent.     The video itself is very simple, and suggests that you slide a shot to your friend. It then proceeds to slide a shot glass of whiskey towards you, the viewer, which then appears to come off the page.  It’s rather clever how they were able to create the illusion of 3D on a non-3D platform.     Slide this shot of Jameson to your drinking buddy #LongLiveTheShot A video posted by Jameson Whiskey (@jameson_us) on Mar 13, 2015 at 11:31am PDT According to many studies, brands are increasing their content marketing budgets to include more video marketing. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, are going to war to become the World’s premier video platforms, something that YouTube has enjoyed for years.   As is the ...Read post

  • Long Tail Keywords for SEO

    It would be great for most dealers if they could appear in search results for all of their makes and models.  Unfortunately, these terms alone are often hard to rank for.  Manufacturers and aggregators like cars.com can make it difficult for dealerships to be seen for generic, one-word keywords. Good keywords to go after are actually known as long tail keywords.  Long tail keywords are easier to rank for because they contain more specific words that might not appear in the same exact order on every site.  For example "Mazda" may be nearly impossible to rank in the top 3 for a dealership.  However, "2015 Mazda Miata" should be achievable within a reasonable amount of time. The work involved in getting these long tail keywords to rank typically requires creating content on the site that has the keyword phrase appearing in the same exact order on a dealership site.  This means that if a dealer is going after "2015 Mazda Miata", they will want that exact phrase to appear on a page ...Read post

  • March Madness: 5 Ways Your BDC Could Go All The Way

    Okay, so my brackets, like many of yours, are already a hot mess. UCLA beat SMU; UAB over Iowa State; Georgia State defeated Baylor--and those were just on Thursday! It was the perfect storm for my March Madness experience. As I was setting fire to my brackets yesterday, I started thinking about how the tournament was similar to dealerships, how we sell cars, and the competition involved. Seriously--there are some pretty solid comparisons between basketball and moving metal. If you want your BDC to perform better than your brackets, here are five hints to help move things along. Five Ways Your Dealership Could Go All the Way: 5) Keep the game plan simple. I love watching coaches who know their game plan and stick to it. The players are confident, they know what has to be done and when, and they execute well. Syracuse University's Boeheim is the master of this. Zone defense is his language. And even though he is not in the tournament this year (that rant is for another blog), his ex...Read post