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

  • Holiday Travel Marketing Guide

    The holiday travel season is in full swing, with an expected 90% of travelers opting for a road trip over air travel. What does this mean for your dealership? Now is the time to prep your customer’s vehicles for their holiday journeys. Here are three easy ways you can keep your dealership top-of-mind, build brand recognition, and drive additional service business to your store. Remind Customers of Maintenance This idea is probably a no brainer, but I want to make sure to state it. Deliver a communication to customers about needed maintenance on their vehicle before holiday travel. Think about offering a Holiday Road Trip Service Package, wherein your team would perform and check all vehicle elements to ensure they arrive at their destination safely and without hassle. Offer Assistance The holidays bring about a lot of busy work and things to keep straight, which means, your customers may forget some key elements when hitting the road this holiday. Remind them of the manufacturer’...Read post

  • LotLinx...Does It Measure Up To The Hype

    LotLinx has exploded in 2014 right when the progressive dealers started to migrate away from form submissions to VDP's to establish ROI. LotLinx deeplinks your new and used inventory to 3rd party partners and routes the VDP click thru to your VDP thus bypassing 3rd party VDP's and form submissions. Uncovered are concerns about Lotlinx reporting issues and inconsistent daily referral resulting in a unusual spike monthly. Can LotLinx resolve this and turn this good tool into a great tool as toutedRead post

  • 4 Tip and Tricks to Drive Engagement On Your Dealership Website

    We recently completed a usability study with REAL in-market car shoppers to determine how they engage with inventory on dealer websites while researching their next purchase. Participants in the study were recruited from the local Seattle area and consisted of people currently in-market for a new vehicle. The goal was simple— to find out directly from the mouths and mouses of real shoppers what makes car shoppers click when browsing your vehicle details pages (VDPs) and vehicle search results pages (VSRs).Read post

    By Cobalt on November 25, 2014

  • How To Maximize Your Dealership Black Friday Sales

    It's the holiday season, that means one thing, you only have a few weeks left to hit your year end sales quotas. While this turns into a very stressful time for many dealerships, it doesn't have to be this way; so put away your Grinch costume and use that shiny little device (smartphones) all you customers have to turn your inventory into perfectly wrapped presents that constantly keep driving off your lot. Everyone's Online According to PunchTab 90% of consumers plan to shop online this holiday season,and with consumers spending more than 15 hours per week researching on their smartphones capturing capturing your customers pre-purchase is essential to ultimately gaining their business.   You want to capture all these customers as they look for vehicles don't you?   Step 1: Simplify Their Search Shoppers make store visits after searching, and if they find all the information they are looking for they are 75% more likely to visit the store.   Take control of how your custom...Read post

  • Content Marketing Strategy: How to Create a Winning Company Blog

    Content marketing, in general, can provide many valuable benefits. It can help create and maintain a brand presence; assist in search engine optimization; and position executives as thought leaders. It can also serve as a valuable source of information for both customers and potential customers.   There are many types of content marketing. Technically speaking, everything your business creates and publishes is content marketing. This can include such items as marketing pieces, videos, blog articles, articles published in trade magazines, social media posts -- you name it. If your audience sees it, chances are that it’s content marketing.   While most businesses understand the importance of content marketing, many get stuck when trying to make it an ongoing reality. Think of it as an extreme case of writer’s block. Someone is tasked to create this “content” but they don’t know what to create on a regular and ongoing basis. Some companies create comprehensive content ma...Read post

  • New Google transparency requirements hold 3rd party partners more accountable for AdWords Mgmt fees

    Google is introducing two new requirements aimed at increasing transparency and accountability of third-party partners. Starting in November, agencies and other third-party firms and individuals that manage Google advertising for customers will need to conform to new third-party policies. The current policy mandates that third-parties disclose Ad Words media costs, clicks, and impressions at the account level. Now all management fees must be disclosed on invoices and be itemized to show the net cost of the Google portion separate from any management fees or mark-up. The days of ‘black box’ digital advertising packages appears to be coming to a close. Black box refers the idea that you pay your digital vendor or agency a monthly amount to provide a host of online services and they ‘optimize’ it among various digital elements such as paid search through Google and Bing, retargeting ads, banner ads, in banner video, search retargeting, or any of a host of other types of digital advertising. While there are positive points to this approach, it has also presented an opportunity for vendors to provide less than full disclosure regarding the ‘third-party’ fees they are actually charging to manage these services.Read post

  • "Selling" at the Zero-Moment-of-Truth

    As an industry, we often activate a vast array of tools...shiny widgets....and systems in which to be effective to the modern consumer….. HOWEVER....do our systems: Target - Communicate – Integrate together; As-One; in order to ensure Buyers are delivered at the ‘Zero Moment’ through a direct-path to OUR specific Stores? Websites? Telephones? As Dealers = "WE reserve the right, to Market OUR Brands, OUR Stores, OUR Inventory - with a single and direct connection to OUR stores, everytime!" Automotive News | Dealers > Best Practices ( Nov. 24, 2014 ) Cardinale Group makeover flexes digital Muscle http://www.autonews.com/article/20141124/RETAIL07/311249996/cardinale-group-makeover-flexes-digital-muscle   ...Read post

  • Does your dealership catch customers at zero moment of truth?

    As Digital Dealers we should all be familiar with the Google’s study that shows the behavior of a current ZMOT Auto buyer: – The majority of shoppers for automobiles are quite thoughtful – starting the process about 2-3 months before. Still, 14% of shoppers actually report spending less than a week on the decision making process. – Auto shoppers use on average 18.2 different sources of information – from TV, news articles, online, family, etc. to finally form their decision. – 97% of auto shoppers will be influenced by ZMOT-style advertising. Marketers should be thinking about how to use ZMOT to drive shoppers right into the dealership. – 71% of auto buyers used a search engine to help find a dealership At ZMOT we have proven that a dealership group that embraces digital marketing focused on targeting zero moment of truth buyers with systems that Target - Communicate – Integrate together as one in order to ensure Buyers are delivered at the "Zero Moment" throu...Read post