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Top 3 Concerns About Dealer Chat Addressed

Its no coincidence that so many of the top eCommerce departments in the nation allow customers to communicate with them using dealer chat. Jim Ellis Auto Dealerships, Younger Automotive Group, Marazzi Dealerships, Apple Auto Group are but a few examples. Chatting online is not at all that different from text messaging on smartphones where written comments are passed back and forth between two parties.

According to a study by Nielsen, in 2008 text messaging surpassed phone usage as the most popular method of communication. As of 2010, Nielsen reports that text messaging exceeds phone calling by 35%. In fact, the proliferation of live chat across non-automotive consumer websites including Dell.com, BankofAmerica.com, Apartments.com and more along with the recent addition of chat across automotive websites like AutoTrader.com and Cars.com proves that live chat has become a central part of the consumer buying experience. Despite the growing popularity of chat, 3 main concerns arise from dealers still unfamiliar with chat:

CONCERN #1: Won't chat cannibalize my phone and email leads?

This is a common misconception. While it's logical to think that the same customer who chats with you might have otherwise called you instead, the numbers tell a different story. CAO survey backed up by similar research conducted by AutoTrader.com and Cars.com reveal that for every 1000 visitors to your website, a significant portion come and go without ever contacting the dealership. Adding live chat captures those individuals with little impact on the other lead sources. Consider the question: would third-party listing sites compensated according to the number of consumers they connect with dealerships risk negatively impacting their numbers by adding live chat? Of course not. Instead, major third-party listing sites have embraced live chat based on the net gains they've seen from adding chat.

Website Lead Comparison

Third-party listing sites and the person who manages your dealership's Google Analytics account can testify that the middle of the workday represents some of the highest trafficked hours of the day for automotive websites. It's well established that consumers tend to shop online while at work. Based on work center policies many of these consumers cannot call or be called using the office email or phone systems. Live chat bridges the gap by providing a discreet way for buyers to reach out to dealerships during peak hours of the day.

CONCERN #2: Will my dealership actually sell more cars by adding live chat? If so, how many?

Chat has proven effective in helping dealers sell more cars. The number of additional cars sold per month fluctuates and of course depends upon several factors including:

(a) the Size of the Dealership and its overall sales volume
(b) the Amount of Traffic coming to the dealership's website
(c) the Answer Percentage - how many of your salespeople are available and actually do answer incoming chats
(d) the Quality of Sales Conversations conducted via chat Some specific examples of how many additional vehicles dealers are selling as a result of adding live chat are:

"Out of the 125-130 cars a month our BDC is responsible for selling, a good 20 of them are the result of a chat."

- Rob Fontano, Marazzi Dealerships

"Group-wide, out of the 4800+ cars our internet department sold last year, 10-12% came as a direct result of chat."

- Wayne Ussery, Jim Ellis Dealerships

"We sell between 10-20 vehicles each month to customers that first contact us via chat."

- David Parrot, Global Imports BMW

CONCERN #3: How effective a conversation can you really have over chat?

There are countless examples where dealers have built rapport, collected information and negotiated purchases online inside a chat window. The following is an example of a soldier in Afghanistan who could only use chat to communicate with her dealership back home. After several conversations over a period of weeks, the soldier finally returned home from her tour, drove to the dealership right from the airport and picked up her new car.

------------------------BEGIN CHAT TRANSCRIPT------------------------
[7:19:57 PM]Agent Marc Ray has accepted the conversation
[7:20:01 PM]Hello, How may I help you?
[7:20:11 PM]This is Marc
[7:20:37 PM]Hey Marc, this is me Kelly again, sorry my internet is limited, I’m about two days out.
[7:20:57 PM]Got your car back today with the leather in it
[7:21:05 PM]Looks good
[7:21:37 PM]The leather is in the back seats as well right?
[7:21:52 PM]Yes
[7:21:53 PM]And are u able to bring it to Cleveland?
[7:22:15 PM]We can work out delivery. I have drivers that can do that for me
[7:23:17 PM]OK that’s cool, or would it be easier for me to come out there because I do want to meet u in person
[7:23:46 PM]OK, oh does it come with tint?
[7:24:28 PM]It would be good if you can come here. I can get you picked up if necessary. We can work out the details when you get back. I'm pretty flexible, it just depends on the day and what I have scheduled
[7:26:30 PM]LOL, I understand. Well yes, I might need u to arrange a pick-up, but will find out more soon as I get back
[7:27:31 PM]Sounds good, we will figure it out. Keep in touch and have safe trip home. Car is put aside for you - no one can sell it. I did also get a Camaro, but it is more money than you can spend.
------------------------END CHAT TRANSCRIPT------------------------

Live chat is simply one more way for dealers to connect with consumers and sell more cars. Dealers spend thousands driving traffic to their internet showrooms. Live chat helps dealers interact with at least 25% more of those visitors. For more information, visit: www.autodealerchat.com

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