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Communicate with your Customers in Crisis Situations

Matthew Belk

Matthew Belk

21 Apr, 2020
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We are living in a time that none of us have ever experienced. This is a time where everything we have known, and the ways that we previously have succeeded in automotive, are no longer feasible. We are left to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And what many of us thought would possibly last for a week is already months in, and many of us are scrambling to figure out how to make things work. 

Brene Brown (author of Dare to Lead and multiple other works) calls moments like these FFT moments. I will say Frustrating First Times, although her first F stands for something a little more raw and real.  We are in the midst of an FFT, and with that we need to know that there is a quick learning curve before we can be successful. Because, let’s be honest here, if we cannot put our head around how Covid-19 has changed the way we are selling cars now, and how we will sell in the future, we are going to be in the back of the pack watching other dealers pass us by.

And I hate to watch people pass me. And I REALLY hate to lose.

Let’s prep today so that you will be leading tomorrow. 

Evaluate your means of communication with customers

This should be the first thing you do. Customers are not buying at the past levels they were. YOY, numbers are down across the board, which we knew they would be. 

When writing this, sales volume was down -29.32%  MoM March vs. Feb. 

However, customers ARE online and looking. Customers are still chatting with dealerships. Incentives are so strong, customers are still engaging with you and people who were not intenders are now looking to trade in and trade up.

Who is contacting them? How are you providing them with the information they need? 

It is more important than ever to have an incredible white-glove process for each and every lead/chat/call with every single customer who wants to engage. They may be purchasing now (if able), or they may be gathering all the information so that they can purchase as soon as they are able. Regardless, they are shopping and you want to play the long game and win that customer before your competition does.

Evaluate your chat. 

If you do not have chat on your site, that should be your first action item. There are many great chat providers (reach out if you need suggestions), but there are a few things you can look for to ensure the company and the chat agents are right for you.

Mix of AI and Real People

AI is an important component of so much that we do digitally. And good AI can be a great solution as an initial response on chat--especially after hours. However, there is a need for a live response in many situations. Customers are asking more specific questions concerning the vehicles because they cannot come on-lot. They are also asking for more finance options in addition to the ability to complete the majority of paperwork at home. 

This is where live chat agents come in. Good companies use automotive chat agents who are well versed in the car buying process. They are an extension of your dealership and will guide the customer down the right path to purchase. These are the companies that will give you the best ROI on your chat spend. 

Find a company with a mix of people and technology, and you will be set in the chat department.


I know I rely on my ability to create relationships face to face with customers. This is how I have won many of my partners. When you can see a person, read their expressions, and create a relationship, they will more than likely want to buy from you. 

It is human nature. We buy from people we like. 

In this time where we have minimal face to face interaction with our customers, video is more important than ever. I’m sure you have been talking about the importance of video for years, and we all know it is important, but it feels uncomfortable. 

It is vulnerable.

And that is why it works.


Give a real face to a name with your customers. We know that 60% of auto shoppers who used video during the research process visited that dealership or the dealership’s website. (Think With Google)

Videos will help create a relationship with the customer, and when they are ready to buy, they will remember the face and voice of the sales person. They will have that walk around video you shot (if able) and pictures of the car you sent. This means of communication will not go away post Covid-19. Customers wanted this before, will get use to having it now, and expect it in the future. Video embedded in emails have a higher engagement and click through rate than standard emails, and now is the time to utilize them and introduce yourself to your customers.

Let’s Talk

  • Do you have video processes in place? What are some of your favorite tools?
  • What are some elements of your chat/text functionality that you cannot live without?
  • What are some changes in process your dealership has already implemented during social distancing?


Please reach out if you need assistance during this time. BCP is here to help, and ready to provide information and guidance.