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Dispelling Automotive Chat Myths and Offering Best Practices

December 25, 2014 - 3:56 pm

There are several myths that surround the automotive chat industry. Dispelling these myths isn’t just good for business. It’s important that dealers have internal discussions about how to properly utilize chat to maximize ROI.

Let’s take a look at some of the myths, then let’s go beyond dispelling them and continue through to discussing best practices that dealers can apply today.

“Chat redirects leads instead of creating them.”

This is a big one. Many dealers feel that adding chat to their website will not encourage people to submit leads more often but will only take leads that would have come to the dealership in other formats such as phone calls or lead form submissions. This couldn’t be further from the truth… for some.

The reason that this myth came into being in the first place is because many chat solutions opted for two ineffective strategy components: passive calls to action and dominant offline messaging. The first is very basic. Many providers promote passive calls to action such as little buttons up top in order to reduce chat traffic. This is a cost savings technique for the chat provider but doesn’t help the dealership. The second strategy component is the dominant offline messaging. Chat is supposed to be real-time communication with potential customers, but many opt to simply put in a contact form most of the time. In this case, those who were going to become a lead anyway will fill it out instead of other forms of communication (thus “stealing” the lead from another source) while those who were not intending to leave their information are given no reason to do so.

If you position your chat to be proactive (discussed below) and always online for your website visitors, you will see that overall website lead generation goes up dramatically. It doesn’t redirect leads in this situation. It generates new ones that you would not have received otherwise.

“Buyers only chat during business hours.”

This myth started off based upon the needs of other chat providers. They know intuitively that people do their research and car shopping at all hours of the day and night, but if their system is not designed to be there 24/7, they had to come up with a reason in order to keep their clients on board.

If you’re reading this article, chances are good that you’ve been investigating something, researching something, or even buying something online during hours when people are asleep. If anything, people who are online at midnight searching for a car are the best people with which to chat. They’re not surfing your website for fun. For whatever reason, they’re up late and looking for cars. Your competitors can go offline. If you’re aggressive and want to find the highest levels of success, you won’t accept offline as an option.

Having an operator on throughout the day and night can make the difference between getting a sale and losing it to someone else who was there to answer their website visitors’ questions.

“Proactive chat is too annoying.”

In reality, those proactive chat boxes are annoying. They do get in the way sometimes and you will get complaints from your staff as a result. However, that’s really the point. What you and your staff think is annoying, your website visitors will see as an extra click at worst and a valid way to contact you in many situations.

Dealers should not rely on their opinions or the opinions of their staff to make decisions about their marketing. They should rely on the data and the data regarding proactive chat is very clear. Dealers will get more leads and sell more cars with proactive chat than without.

To understand why this is so, it’s important to understand the difference between a dealership’s mentality regarding their website and their potential customers’ mentality. When it’s our website, one that we visit often, we can get easily annoyed by popups, popunders… popwhatevers. We can think that it makes our website look bad or that it is so annoying that potential customers will leave. That’s simply not the case. If someone is in the market to buy a car, they aren’t going to say, “I really want to inquire about this vehicle, but that chat box is annoying so I’m going to buy a different vehicle instead.”

On the other hand, they might think something else when visiting a website with proactive chat, such as, “I really want to inquire about this vehicle but I don’t want to call or email. Oh, look, here’s an easy way to communicate with them without having to talk to them on the phone or wait for an email reply.”

“Chat leads are low quality.”

This is a myth that is completely dependent on two things: what the vendor and the dealer consider to be leads and how they go about generating them. To us, a lead is not directing someone to an hours and directions page. To us, a lead must be generated through conversation that starts with being helpful and answering questions. Basic rapport is built during this initial interaction with the dealership and we have scientifically proven methods to turn the right people into leads.

If you’ve experienced poor lead quality in the past, it’s likely because the chat provider was either classifying chats incorrectly or they were using poor methods to gather contact information. We treat your website visitors like VIPs when they enter chat, which is why if they’re interested in a vehicle, we use the right methodology to get them in contact with you.

Don’t get swayed by a sales pitch or unsubstantiated myths. Make your website chat decisions based upon truth and data.

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