More and more dealers are realizing that an effective live chat strategy is a key puzzle piece for increasing leads and sales from their dealership website – whether they opt for an in-house staff or hosted chat vendor. The scary truth is that many dealers who jump on in-house chat or the cheapest hosted chat expecting that it will magically pull them out of a sales slump overnight often end up with the same feelings as someone who ‘tried’ the latest trendy diet or fitness contraption: “I tried it and it doesn’t work”.
We may not be experts in diets or workout equipment, but we know live chat like Chef Ramsey knows cooking, and our experience teaches us that there are three key elements for live chat success:
- Processes and people
- Web interface
Each piece is critically important, but once you have chosen your software or vendor, the PROCESSES and PEOPLE piece is the one element that dealers can control. First, you have to determine WHO will be involved with your live chat process. In-house, there are several steps to increase your odds of success:
- Determine WHO will take the chats (hire additional staff?)
- Assign management
- Develop effective scripts (effectiveness AND speed)
- Establish policies, processes, and escalation for ALL CHAT TYPES
- Train, train, train for best practices on EVERY CHAT CONVERSATION
Once you have all this in place, be sure to position your chat staff as online operators, NOT as internet salespeople, to boost your chances of gathering lead information. This helps avoid your sales or BDC staff from running around to find out what brand or speed rating of tire is on a specific car, so they can get an appointment set.
If you are using your sales force to respond to live chat inquiries, you want to make sure they are strong on the phones before putting them in front of a keyboard, figure out how you will handle chat conversations when your store is full on a Saturday afternoon, then decide if that is REALLY how you want them spending time.
Choosing to use BDC staff to handle chat conversations needs other questions answered, like how much free time do they currently have and what if they are on the phone when a chat inquiry comes in (response target is 7 seconds or less). Dealers must recognize that industry statistics show that 30% of chat requests are missed by a BDC, and as many as 35% of requests can be missed during off hours.
Generating more dealership website leads and increasing car sales is very possible with an effective live chat strategy, but as with anything else, it take planning and preparation to maximize its chances for success.