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Quarantine Selling: Why Chat is more valuable than ever


As social distancing and Shelter in Place orders continue, the automotive world is left to reinvent who we are and how to effectively sell cars in this “new normal” that we are navigating. The good news is that the majority of tools we need are already available, and this pandemic was the catalyst to make us truly see their value and need.

When reviewing the majority of information shared during this time, there are elements that stand out. Car sales are down. Website visits, VDP views--they are down as well, but not nearly as dramatically. What that tells me is that people are still shopping. People are still going to your websites. Incentives are driving people to become auto intenders, even when they did not realize they were.

Now you need to make sure you have the necessary tools to sell in this Quarantine time. In the first of the three part series, we will look at and evaluate a few specific tools needed to be successful communicators and sellers when customers can not come into the dealership.

Chat--the necessary and important tool you overlook

Chat is not novel or sexy, like some of the other tools we will discuss later, but it is essential to communicating with your customers--regardless of social distancing. Before we move forward, let’s define chat. Chat will be considered anything that allows the dealership to chat with, text, or Facebook message a consumer.

41% of customers prefer live chat over any other channel of communication. Compare that with 32% prefer phone conversations and 23% prefer email, and you can see that Live Chat is the way customers want to communicate with you. 

When almost half of your customers would prefer to chat, you need to make sure that your technology is strong, your people are trained, and your responses are authentic and answer the customer’s question. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for your chat company, or evaluating your current one.

Mix of Real Automotive People and Smart Technology

29% of consumers state that they are frustrated by impersonal responses that are either auto-generated or overly scripted. (Kayako)

When looking for your chat option, and there are many, make sure that the solution does not put ALL their eggs in the AI basket. AI is important, and while very smart AI can be quick, customers are asking more specific and dealer-centric questions. Technology can begin the conversation and get initial pertinent pieces of information, but people are needed to tap in to answer if they qualify for a rebate or whether the car is more Candy Apple Red or Maroon. 

Make sure that the tech does not overshadow the human element. There will be a point where there needs to be a handoff, whether at the dealership level or with an offsite BDC agent. Make sure they are fully trained and automotive specific.

Increase CSI

Chat has the innate ability to increase CSI for the dealership if the right agents are staffed and answering your customers. When the agents have access to your inventory, excellent product knowledge, and are trained in communication skills, it is a fantastic opportunity to increase CSI and positive reviews.

According to Zendesk, companies with CSI ratings of 90% have longer chat durations (average of 11 minutes). Your agents have to be able to not only talk with the customer, but also find the information needed and add value. Make sure that the solution you choose has Automotive Agents conversing with your customers. For some, this will be the first time they have any communication with your dealership. You need to make sure it is a true white glove experience with excellent information.

Chat does not need to break the bank

Right now may not feel like the time to discuss buying new products or adding new widgets to your website. But if you currently do not have a chat partner, this is one of those things I would suggest you get as soon as possible. 

But it does not need to come at a high expense.

There are many chat providers out there, and chat can range from $99 to over $900 a month depending on the number of visitors to your website and what you really want from the provider.

Many providers have a chat solution, but also have digital retailing, retargeting, remarketing, ad solutions, content creation, and the list goes on and on. These are great additions if you do not have them, but many website providers or Dig. Ad. providers have included these tools in packages that you have never used. If you are looking for a little of everything, these are solid solutions that will come at a premium price.

There are also chat providers who do nothing but focus on chat and communicating with your customers through Automotive Specific Chat Agents. There are fewer of these on the market, and they will be much less expensive than some of the other companies. They will not have all the other elements, but they will have chat--and most of these single focus companies do chat REALLY WELL.

What Now?

You have been given a little additional time to review products and necessary items for your dealership so that you can be successful during quarantine selling and beyond. Make sure that your current chat provider has a mix of technology and automotive specific chat agents. 

And if you do not have a chat provider, reach out and we can give you some suggestions based on Industry Best Practices. Once we know what you need, we can help direct you toward the best solution!



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