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Big Tom LaPointe

Big Tom LaPointe Digital Marketing Consultant

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Want to EPIC FAIL with Live Chat? Try this…

CarChat24 how to fail at live chatThere are numerous ways to build success into your live chat strategy, but if you want the ONE THING that is sure to guarantee embarrassment and failure (not to mention waste time and money), try this: make your guests give you contact information before you (or your live chat vendor) have a live chat conversation!

Done. Kaput. Fin. Nyet. Nada. Zilch.

That pretty much sums up your live chat success with this very ill-advised practice. But maybe you wonder, why not ask up front so you can generate a ‘lead’? Here are five good reasons you should not force your website shoppers to give you their contact info to ‘earn’ their chat conversation:

  1. You will definitely upset them
  2. The information is likely bogus
  3. You will definitely upset them
  4. The lead is low quality and will have low closing probability
  5. You will definitely upset them

This won't be a QUALITY lead

Let’s face it – people shop online for convenience AND anonymity. One of the key principles and goals of a successful live chat strategy is to earn trust and build a relationship by communicating with buyers on THEIR terms. Forcing information out of them without the benefit of a mutual information exchange is not only bad business practice, but it’s rude.

Would you REALLY have your receptionist demand contact information before forwarding a sales call to the sales floor or BDC? I have seen dealers try it, and for as long as the experiment lasted, it created more of a problem than a solution.

Yes, businesses really do this

I recently shopped on the website of a leader in discount electronic accessories. I had a simple question about a product with some vague information in the description, and thought I would see if the chat operator had (or could get) the answer. When I saw them forcing my hand for full contact information, I moved to another source. It was that simple. They lost the sale. And so will your dealership. Since automotive buyers typically only visit one dealership after shopping several online, why would you blow them out before the conversation gets started? This was with a company who HAS MY INFO because I have spent hundreds of dollars with them, but I didn’t have the time or desire to indulge their arrogant (in my perception) demand.

Use Live Chat to earn the buyer's trust

Just like your salesperson on the floor has to EARN the right to ask for the sale in the product presentation, you have to earn the right to ask for contact info in a chat conversation by providing a certain amount of good faith information exchange. Whether you handle your own live chat conversations or contract a chat vendor for hosted service, be sure there are scripts in place that both address the shoppers’ needs and build the trust required to gather quality lead information that can result in a car sale.

Photo: / Grant Cochrane


Tom LaPointe
Interactive Media Manager / Industry Analyst
24/7 Interactive Automotive Dealer Website LIVE 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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