Is live chat effective? Should I have my dealership staff answer chats or should I outsource them? Does bot technology really work? These are just some of the questions for auto dealers across the country as we enter 2020.
I’ve been in the automotive digital communications “live chat and text” arena for the past ten years and have seen firsthand the evolution of digital communication. Although the technology has advanced and the number of communication channels has increased, the core questions surrounding it hasn’t changed all that much.
Is live chat and text effective?
The simple answer is yes. Live chat and text are the preferred method of communication for the modern day shopper. Those dealership websites without a chat or text option are at a significant disadvantage. Especially on mobile. Mobile engagements via chat or text are now north of 65% and growing year after year.
Should my staff answer the chats and texts or should I outsource?
Arguably the most asked and difficult question to answer. Primarily because each dealership is set up differently. Some may have a BDC were others might not be staffed with an internet department at all. What we do know is the two main questions asked by consumers are the following:
Is this vehicle still available or in stock?
Can I set up a service appointment?
When asked, “Who would you prefer to address a direct question from a consumer?” most general managers answered that they would prefer their staff, yet a majority of dealerships outsource their chats and texts to a 3rd party vendor. If a customer walked into the showroom floor would you ask them for their contact information, walk them back out to their car, and tell them that a dealership staff member will get back to them as soon as they can? Of course not, yet it seems to be a common practice on a dealership’s virtual showroom.
On that note I understand why outsourcing is important. Staffing issues are real and maybe the dealership is too busy to answer live chat and text inquiries. Also, having someone available 24/7 to engage with a potential customer is paramount in today’s world. Most 3rd party vendors offer an option to transfer the conversation directly to a dealership staff member which can bridge that gap if someone at the dealership is available on the other side.
Does bot technology work?
The quick answer is yes. It may be somewhat new to the automotive world but bots have been implemented in other verticals for years. Think of the series of questions asked when you call or chat with your phone company or healthcare provider. Bots can address a majority of customer questions or concerns upfront without having to engage the dealer directly.
As we enter a new year and a new decade, customer service and customer focus has never been more important. They say you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. The question to ask yourself is who do I want my potential customers’ first impression with my dealership to be with?