Albert Einstein earned status as one of the smartest minds in history by focusing obsessively on his science, much like our team focuses ENTIRELY on how to generate quality leads with live chat. In a conversation I recently had with an eCommerce Manager at a premium auto dealer group, she explained to me that she isn’t comfortable with people outside the dealership interacting with ‘her’ customers via live chat. That made me curious…how did she plan to measure the performance of her chat operators? Track their chat count and chat leads? Incentivize appointments and/or sold units?
Our experience in dealerships has shown us that IF a dealer is measuring self-hosted chat performance, even these basic metrics may not make the short list. Supervising a successful in-house dealer chat program is possible, but takes intensive planning and oversight. The irony is that CarChat24 was started BECAUSE of the challenges of managing chat in-house. The reality is that chat conversations typically take place when people generally take care of their personal business – before and after work, lunchtime, primetime and late-night, and weekends. These time periods coincide with those in the dealership that BDCs and sales teams tend to have fewer staff members available to handle live chat conversations.
It is unlikely (if not impossible) for a car dealership to match the 45 DAYS of training that our chat operators receive, as well as ongoing weekly training just for chat skills, including maximizing the tools in the console (like CarFax and Edmunds Data integration) and handling objections. Once our chat operators go ‘live’, they are measured and coached weekly on 19 different performance metrics.
Dealer staff must master phone ups, follow-ups, and legal requirements, as well as fundamental selling skills, whereas our operators focus strictly on chat – kind of like a service department having specialty technicians who just work on transmissions or electronics. It’s no wonder our chat operators convert a higher percentage of chats to leads than even large BDCs. We have the benefit of dozens of live chat operators and more ONE MILLION completed chat conversations to establish benchmarks and focus on that exclusively every day. Here are a few of our key measures, including the aforementioned ones:
Number of chats – our operators are required to take a minimum number of chats during their shift.
Number of leads and conversion percentage – we meticulously track the total leads and the percentage they converted from conversations
Time to respond to a chat – we prefer our operators to respond to chat requests within three to six seconds.
Sales-to-service chat ratio – our operators are not permitted to ‘cherry-pick’ sales leads and ignore service and parts chat requests. This is a common challenge with self-managed chat because salespeople and many BDC staff members aren’t paid to handle service and parts conversations.
Length of live chat conversations – the goal for each conversation is to provide basic information to each visitor and convert them to a lead for the sales, service or parts departments within a reasonable amount of time.
Staying on process with pre-written responses – all our chat responses have been carefully edited, tested and put in place to give dealer website visitors a quality experience and move them into the sales funnel. The effectiveness of talking ‘off the cuff’ or ‘shooting from the hip’ can’t be accurately measured.
Amount of time logged on / off the chat console – our operators are required to be logged in a certain amount of time while they are on shift.
In addition to the challenges of learning the nuances of handling live chat, managers often don’t have time to actually ‘manage’ it. So why not trust a proven pioneer in the industry staffed by successful ‘car people’ to handle these conversations and let the sales team focus on sales? I have yet to talk to an internet manager who said they have ‘plenty of extra time’ to manage the details of their chat strategy beyond lead count and conversion rates. Car dealership managers spend every day handling the triage of staffing, customer, and process opportunities that arise.
Take the proactive route to successful live chat and trust a company with proven results – at least in a backup role to handle chats after hours and during peak times when staff are busy selling? What do you have to lose – besides car deals?