What would your definition of a "perfect" chat service be?

gregg hayim
I think its safe to say that as an industry, we have bought into the belief that some sort of human chat presence is necessary on our websites- but given the pretty hefty costs, at what point do we begin to ask more out of them? Or, are you guys of the opinion that what we have is as good as it needs to be? I bring this up because I mystery shopped my own site over the weekend, and although it was 10pm on a saturday night- I wasnt all that pleased with the responses I got. The questions I asked were fairly typical, ie, specials, lease terms, etc- and the answers I got were fairly typical as well- basically no answers, but a live person requesting my contact information. So my question is this....what would you guys envision as a perfect chat capabilities be? Would the operator have the ability to give trade info, lease numbers, etc? I just feel that given the price we pay, we could do better. Thanks!
Todd H
You first have to decide if you are willing to have an expert on staff at ALL times manage your chat (be able to respond within 10 seconds max). We could never get that fast. We use a vendor called Carchat24 and they have a pretty good conversion rate (and they dont charge for non-sales leads). We have tried some of the other ones, but they all have limitations. I see a perfect chat as a someone that I hire to deliver measurable leads (phone numbers, names, and email addresses). I dont think there is a perfect vendor out there because it is a difficult balance of giving away too much info or not enough info. Remember, chatting is not about selling the car, but rather getting an appointment set.
gregg hayim
Thanks for the feedback- I guess that's my point, if the goal is an appointment, are these vendors putting us in a position to do so? The entire point is speed right? But all we really get is a road block (the human agent) that passes the information to or CRM/Manager- so aren't we in essence slowing the process down? Thanks again for the feedback, it's great to have the food for thought.
Clint Jones
We tried a few different chat options. We tried handling it ourselves, we tried to outsource it, we tried a removable chat icon (removed chat from our site when nobody was available to take a chat), and we took turns being available until about 10:00pm or until we fell asleep at night. Basically, the 3rd party sources did nothing but piss people off. Ironically, we actually had 2 customers say "all I want is a price, and you are pissing me off"....literally. Our own employees did a great job with the chat sessions because they were sales people. They would actually try to give the customer what they were after, and never "pushed" for contact information. However, there were times when none of us could get to the chat fast enough. Ultimately, I came to the following conclusion: The only thing worse than not having any chat option, is having a BAD chat option. That is the situation that we were in. We no longer offer chat on our website.
Michael Smith
We have had pretty good service from Gugaboo. They do a solid job with customers including parts/service, schedule at a good rate and handle customers well.
Jason Stum
I think the ideal for chat would be to handle it in house. However this isn't as easy to do as it sounds. One of the things I took away from DSES was how our websites need to eveolve to make the shopping experience more user friendly and (gasp) fun! Having a 3rd party handle your chat when they can't answer the most basic questions and only drive for the contact info does not lead to a fun or friendly experience. I totally agree with @Clint, if you can't do chat right, don't do it at all.

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