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Chat Answering: Which Option is Right for Your Dealership?


Maybe you’ve heard the buzz about car dealer chat and are ready to try it, but still aren’t sure how it would actually work in your own dealership. Oftentimes, confusion arises when managers start thinking through how chats will be answered, so let’s look at three available options for responding to incoming chat leads:

OPTION #1: Answering Your Own Chats (DIY Chatting)

Research has proven time and again that Answering Your Own Chats really does make a difference in the quantity and quality of leads. In fact, auto dealers we surveyed said they typically see at least a 25% increase in conversions when they answer their own chats.

It makes sense. Your sales people are the most knowledgeable about your products and inventory, and whenever possible, consumers prefer to speak with the source. Connecting online with the same person you’ll meet in the showroom helps build trust and rapport, and let’s face it – shoppers today are impatient! The bottom line is that if you’re not available with the answer they need, they may just move on to the next dealership.

To begin chatting with car shoppers visiting your dealership’s website you’ll need to license software. But, that’s not as complicated as it sounds. Most people are able to download what they need and begin sending and receiving chats in a matter of minutes.

It’s also important to note that with DIY Chatting, if you don’t have to have someone answering chats all of the time – even if you’re only available 50% of the time, you’re still responding to more prospects and scheduling more showroom visits than you would have otherwise.

Finally, when answering your own chats, it’s important to make sure the provider you choose has auto on and off capabilities, based on whether you’re logged into your computer or not.

OPTION #2: Mixed Mode Chatting (DIY + Help When Wanted)

So, what happens when you can’t—or don’t want to—answer your own chats?

The Mixed Mode Chatting option gives you the best of both worlds. Answer your own chats when you can (and enjoy that extra bump from the trust and rapport you build with shoppers) but when you can’t, don’t sweat it. Just forward your chats to a professional chat answering center where trained automotive operators will engage with prospects and send you the leads.

With this option you retain control of the information flow and how chats are handled, but you won’t have to worry about missing sales opportunities. Contact At Once! calls this option ‘Chat Receptionist’ and it’s available in our most popular package, the Dealer Edition.

OPTION #3: Fully Managed Chat

Fully Managed Chat is pretty much what it sounds like – a chat icon appears on your website, and when online shoppers choose to chat, they’re actually having a conversation with a skilled automotive chat operator inside a call center, not someone at your dealership. Note that this is the only option available from some chat providers.

Managed chat (sometimes called 24/7 fully staffed chat) can be a good alternative for dealerships with a small sales staff, or no Internet manager and it typically costs a fraction of what you’d have to pay to hire an employee to answer your chats.

How to Choose The Best Option for You

Each option has its strengths. Answering your own chats can increase response rates, but you may not always be available or have the time. Managed chat means an operator is available 24/7, but they may not have the specific answers online shoppers are looking for and its “one-size-fits-all” implementation approach may not suit your needs.

Answering your own chats when you can and utilizing a chat receptionist when you can’t offers the most flexible solution – especially when your salespeople take the time to learn how to carry off chat conversations with the same personality they use on the phone and in-person.

However you choose to chat, chances are, you’ll be considering your dealership’s answering options sooner vs. later, particularly as more and more car shoppers prefer real-time communication options over phone and lead forms.

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