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? :-)

March 11th

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

March 11th

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.

March 11th

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!

March 13th

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

  • Location Matters in Your Advertising Choices

    Dealers often ask us whether they should be using this service or that product to get their message out to the masses about their dealership. Should we increase our PPC budget? Does direct mail still work? Is social media a waste? Is SEO dead? Do people still read newspapers? In the vast majority of cases, the answer is not about “how” they should be advertising. It’s more about “where” they should advertise in order to achieve the highest return on investment. They All Work… Somewhere Despite reports that have been circulating for a decade about the demise of newspaper advertising, our analysis has shown that it can still be effective in certain places. This is probably the starkest example of data trumping intuition and rumors in the world of automotive advertising. For example, the Boston market is one of the most tech-savvy in the country with a high preference towards digital advertising over traditional. This might be interpreted as a prime location for dealersh...Read post

  • Announcing Finalists for DSES Dealer Best Idea Content

    This contest is a highlight for many attendees and you won't want to miss it this year. It's inspiring to watch 5 progress dealership executives compete head-to-head on forward thinking ideas they've implemented to sell more cars. We can't wait to see the results each finalists has produced for their store...the dealer panel will have a tough time deciding on a winner.Read post

  • Understanding the Data ‘Deep Dive’ that Drives Dealer Decisions

    Check your email. There’s probably a report or two that has hit your inbox since yesterday that was filed away in a “to do” folder of some sort. The digital age has given us access to so much data and so many reports from the vendors that help us advertise our dealerships that it can be a full-time job simply deciphering it all. It isn’t just the time allotted that causes challenges, either. Much of the data we’re given requires concentrated exploration in order to find those hidden gems that can guide a dealership’s marketing path. We know it’s important, but making sense of it all can be too time-consuming. The good news is that most dealers are in the same boat. They’re all getting too many reports that are too big, too confusing, or both. As easy as it is to file the reports away for “light reading” over the weekend, it’s important to perform regular deep dives into the data in order to make the most educated decisions about your advertising spend. Knowin...Read post

  • Data Breaches: Why Dealers Should Be Concerned

    Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that a crime ring in Russia has “amassed the largest known collection of Internet credentials, including 1.2 billion user name and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses.” The newspaper quoted data security expert Alex Holden, founder of Hold Security, as warning that hackers “targeted any website they could get, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to very small websites.” In the last year, we have seen more data stolen from retailers than ever before. It seems as if every week we’re hearing of yet another company that might have compromised our personal data. While the Times reports that this crime ring seems to be using this data to simply hijack email and social media accounts, it does acknowledge that the sale of personal information, including Social Security numbers and other personal information, would be much more lucrative. Dealers may think that car dealers are less likely to be targeted by...Read post

  • Random Acts of Generosity Can Build Loyalty

    Finding a lost earring in the jewelry box, discovering the old autographed Tom Seaver baseball card when you clean out the attic, and learning that the shirt you are about to pay retail for is discounted, are all pleasant surprises.  How about walking into your bank and having the ATM talk with you and then give you a gift for being a customer?  Could that surprise highlight your day?  Such was the case during a special July day at four TD Canada Trust branches, according to this article.  Many customers received a $20 bill, but for some customers, the trip to the bank was much more rewarding. One lucky customer landed an opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a baseball game. And another got to take a trip out of the country to visit a sick family member. You shouldn’t need to go far to hear a “thank you” when you visit the bank, the grocery store or your favorite neighborhood restaurant.  But when was the last time you were thanked in an unexpected way?   Your de...Read post

  • How to Properly Promote Yelp in Your Dealership

    What is your dealership doing in store to drive traffic and attention to your Yelp listing? There are many ways to ensure your customers know that your dealership has an active presence on Yelp and to encourage them to share their feedback. Read post

    By Cobalt on August 20, 2014

  • Manufacturers’ Lists To Connect With Your Next Sale

    Using the information from a manufacturer’s list, a good automated marketing solution can create personalized campaigns for individual customers. You control what you want the solution to look for. Want to run targeted ads based on vehicle purchase date? Last maintenance appointment? Vehicle model? It is possible to create campaigns based on almost anything, and the marketing automation solution sorts out which messages would be most relevant to which customers.Read post

  • Adaptive or Responsive Design? How Do You Know Which to Choose?

    The buzzwords are plentiful when discussing mobile optimization. We've heard them all. Adaptive and Responsive typically generate more of the noise. Have you stopped to consider what they actually mean? More importantly, how do they influence the experiences that we create for our customers? Read post

    By Cobalt on August 20, 2014