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Big Tom LaPointe

Big Tom LaPointe Digital Marketing Consultant

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How many leads and deals are OK to skip? Why 24/7 live chat makes perfect (dollars and) sense

Live Chat 24/7 by CarChat24Let’s stay that estimate is accurate (we began offering 24/7 service BECAUSE of overnight demand). With our lead conversion rate of more than 60 percent, that’s at least nine leads – with a potential for two or three car deals –plus timely intervention in a potential sales or service CSI issue. So if a chat vendor tells you 24/7 doesn’t work, they’re really saying they can’t figure out how to MAKE it work.


Do you really want to pass up these opportunities? Less than 10 percent of typical weekday floor traffic is between 8am and noon – that doesn’t have you keeping your doors shut. Statistically, Tuesday or Wednesday will typically experience less than 10 percent of your weekly floor traffic – why not take those off? Because it makes sense to be open when customers want to shop, as long as it is feasible to schedule staff.


Don’t miss out on leads and sales just because your chat provider hasn’t solved their training and staffing issues. If the overnight chat operator shifts receive the same extensive training and expert management, and have the same (and sometimes more) job dedication as the daytime shift operators, then why WOULDN’T you want them responding to customers?

You want your best face-to-face salespeople working deals on the floor. You want great phone people staffing a BDC, and you want great chat operators manning keyboards. Typically, you hire and train staff with the right personality for each role, and everyone starts out ‘new’. The key is to provide world-class training and retain team members. Many chat operators (or so-called virtual sales assistants) perform this role as a stepping-stone in their career. As with any vendor, you want seasoned professionals with a proven commitment to their career, ideally with several years in the role.

There is so much ROI for dealers that many who use their own BDC or sales staff during the day actually contract hosted chat services after hours.


I recently had a service issue with Ford. After several days of calls to the service advisor, service manager, and the factory, I am still waiting for the regional representative to help resolve my issue. Everyone was appropriately empathetic and kind, but this shows that just because the dealership is ‘open’, problems can't always be immediately solved. But at least a live person took the call, and that’s the benefit after-hours live chat provides.

Customers will always prefer a conversation with a live person via voice or live chat over leaving a voice message or filling out a form – especially if they have a problem. While it’s true that an overnight chat operator may not have ‘best price’ answer a buyer is looking for or be able to diagnose an engine fault, today’s instant-gratification shopper would often rather ask a chat operator for the hours or address than chase it down on the website, and an overnight conversation still starts the sales relationship and can set a showroom appointment. Shoppers KNOW the store is closed, but still appreciate live contact.

PLUS, it’s been proven time and again that customers with an issue initially want someone to LISTEN. With hundreds and thousands of dollars on the line with CSI surveys, having someone who can respond and begin the resolution process is invaluable.


A full-time live chat option absolutely makes as much sense as being open weekday mornings. Auto dealership managers always have to weigh the value and ROI of their services – lower quality services will typically cost less for a reason.

Photo credits: CarChat24 graphic, Dreamstime

Check out Jeff Sterns, CarChat24 VP of Sales and Business Development, at AutoCon 2013 in Las Vegas


Tom LaPointe

Interactive Media Manager /
Industry Analyst
24/7 Interactive Automotive Dealer Website Chat Solutions
Hosted or In-House Options – FREE web chat software

Tom has an MBA in Marketing and is an automotive writer and author with more than 15 years experience in virtually every aspect of the retail auto industry. He has been a performance leader in everything from sales and service, to web development and viral marketing. / /


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