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Managed versus Self-Serve Car Dealer Chat

May 5, 2014 - 4:00 am

Our self-managed chat solution is excellent. Those who use it can attest to the benefits of having high-quality chat software at your fingertips. With that said, it’s important to understand why we strongly recommend taking advantage of our managed chat solution.

One of the primary attributes for success in the internet department at car dealerships is the ability to multitask. It’s a question asked of just about every internet or marketing manager to help determine if they can handle the job and what we’ve found is that many in the industry have become very good at it. However, there’s always a trade off when too many things are on any given plate regardless of skill level.

There are three primary reasons that dealers or internet managers choose self-managed over managed chat. Here, we address these with our take on each..

“I am better-equipped to handle chat because I’m right here at the dealership”

This is actually a very true statement in many regards. There are definitely times when it’s better to answer questions that come in with information that can only be acquired by someone at the dealership. A perfect example, the one that most dealers have in mind when picturing themselves handling their own chat, is answer a question about whether or not a vehicle is available on the lot at that particular moment.

There’s a flip side, though. For every question like this that comes up, there are many others that simply do not require a live person at the dealership to answer. An internet manager or BDC manager will be answering questions about parts, service, and generic sales questions much more often than getting a “hot one” on the chat ready to be closed immediately.

We believe in having the best of both worlds. Our team is trained to be able to handle the majority of questions without bothering the dealership employee. Unless the staff that you have manning the chat is doing so full-time, many of the chats that come in will be distractions rather than sales opportunities.

Moreover, our staff is trained to handle the hot customers in an appropriate manner. In fact, the “hot ones” are our specialty. It’s one thing to go touch a car and come back to tell them that it’s there. It’s another thing to alert them that someone will check on the car for them and that they will contact them as soon as they find out about it. In the first scenario, it may or may not become a lead. In the second scenario, it almost always become a hot lead.

“It’s better to have a sales pro on the other end of the chat than someone collecting lead information”

It’s one of the most common thoughts. It actually makes sense on the surface. Why not have a seasoned sales professional who is used to selling cars taking control over the situation just like they do on the phone or with a live customer? The lead rates will surely go up, right?

No. They go down. The skills required to generate a lead on chat are completely different from the skills required to be good at sales. Keep in mind, people often turn to chat specifically because they do not want to be sold to at that particular moment. Perhaps they had a bad experience on the phone with another dealer. Perhaps they are gathering information now prior to heading to the dealership tomorrow.

What we’ve found in examining hundreds of pages of self-managed chat interactions is that the art of “thinking on your feet” that serves sales professionals so well in person or on the phone are negatives on chat. There is a science behind chat that clearly outperforms standard sales skills.

Again, we also point to the reality that a good chunk of the chats initiated are simply trying to find out when the service department closes or whether or not they offer a loaner vehicle. You wouldn’t have the receptionist direct those calls to a sales professional just as you wouldn’t want them handling those chats.

Last but definitely not least is the timing factor. Our chat professionals answer every single chat in seconds. The old school thought that people will wait for a minute or two if they’re really serious is not true. It doesn’t matter how serious someone is – they will not wait on chat while someone at the dealership is in the bathroom or on the phone. They want answers immediately. That’s why they’re chatting in the first place.

“It’s more expensive”

Cost-savings works in two directions. Would you save hundreds per month if it meant selling fewer cars? Would you spend more if it meant selling more?

The simple math says that managed chat is more expensive. Once you take into account the potential for lost leads and sales, is it really about being more expensive or is it a question of return on investment? If your dealership is driven by ROI, then managed chat is a clear winner.

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