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Auto Live Chat Emoticon Etiquette: When can you use =) ?

By Stephen Jackson on Mar 15, 2012


It is a well-known fact that abbreviations and emoticons are often used in every day conversations. From texting to emailing, this lingo has become popular across all generations and forms of media – dating all the way back to 1862. So, when is it appropriate to use emoticons in an automotive live chat conversation?

There is one golden rule that you must always keep in mind: do not use emoticons or abbreviations unless the chatter uses them first. However, this rule can be applied loosely depending on the vibe each live chat participant gives off during the conversation. If you are having a great conversation and acquire all the contact information effortlessly, an emoticon or abbreviation here and there could help, not hinder, your chat. This fresh way of communicating can give off positive feelings in the chat conversation and can be a great way to build a relationship with the web shopper.

Scenarios when to use Emoticons after the chatter uses them first:


Customer: You look very good in the picture online. Will I be working with you? ;-)

Sales Person: I do not work in sales, but a member of my Sales Team will be following up with you! ;-D

Live chat interactions are the first impression a customer has of your dealership. If the chatter is being flirtatious in a chat, do not reward their flirtation with an emoticon.  Focus their attention on the vehicle, not the emotion. Keep the conversation on a professional note.



Customer: I want a SUV with leather, sunroof, and navigation for 35k. I know that is a lot to ask. =)

Sales Person: We’ll see what we can do for you John. =)

When a customer is excited about a vehicle, match that excitement with an emoticon. Not only does it make the chatter feel good, but the emoticon confirms you are on the right track to acquiring contact information.


Scenarios when to use Emoticons first:


Customer:  I have very bad credit and I want to know if you guys can work with that.  I filed for bankruptcy as well.

Sales Person:  =(  I’m sorry to hear that John!

Never focus on a negative statement made by the chatter and never use a frowning emoticon. You want the live chat participant’s experience to always be positive which will reflect on the dealership itself.



Customer: When I come in, I would like to work with you, where do I go to ask for you?

Sales Person: I’m sorry, I don’t work in sales. I leave that to the pros ;-) .

Sometimes when a live chat goes well the customer asks to work with the chat representative when they visit the dealership. In this chat, an emoticon is appropriate because it reflects back a positive feeling on the sales staff and the dealership.


When to use an abbreviation back:


Customer: My credit is horrible, I bet the bum down the street has a better score than me.

Sales Person: LOL. We’ll see what we can do for you John.

When you oversimplify live chat with abbreviations, a lot of communication errors can occur. Don’t focus on the negatives in chat and don’t “laugh out loud” to any chatter’s reference to bad credit. Focus on positives and keep the conversation focused on the vehicle!



Customer: I’m being a good husband and getting all the features my wife wants on this car. I’m a keeper, aren’t I? LOL

Sales Person: LOL. Yes, we wouldn’t want your wife to be angry because you didn’t listen! I’ve made sure to make note of those features for you.

When a chatter feels comfortable enough to joke around with you, then that feeling of comfort will pass onto the dealership. First impressions are important and to return a given LOL is golden.


When to use emoticons and abbreviations simultaneously:


Customer: I’m looking for a vehicle that I can get hot chicks in, you know what I mean? LOL :-)

Sales Person: LOL. I’m sure you can get lots of beautiful girls in this vehicle John. ;-D

We have identified the behavior of serious buyers in previous blogs, but generally when a chatter comes in asking for a vehicle to get hot chicks in, they aren’t a serious buyer. Don’t entertain their dialogue by returning emoticons or abbreviations.



Customer: Do you take trade-ins? My wife is a really good cook, but she has a lot of miles on her. LOL. Can we work something out? ;-)

Sales Person: LOL. Let me see what we can do John, but I’m sure your wife will be valued priceless. =)

In this chat, it looks like we have gotten the full lead and are winding down the conversation. Again, when the chatter is comfortable enough to joke around with you, it is a good sign and you have liberty to return the emoticons and abbreviations given. When the shopper leaves the conversation after having a great experience, you can bet that they are looking forward to the same type of experience at the dealership location.


Hopefully these scenarios have given you insight on when to properly use emoticons and abbreviations in live chat. While chatting you always want the chatter to feel good and positive about the car buying experience. Never emphasize the negative. Always return good positive feelings back! =)

Make sure to subscribe to our blog for more updates on live chat best practices!


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