Have you ever heard the aphorism, “a rising tide lifts all boats”? John F. Kennedy was surely right when he spoke about the economy; when there’s market growth, even the average dealer profits. Unfortunately, sales are beginning to slow in the auto industry, and we have low tides on the horizon.
With car sales flattening, dealers need to find ways to preserve revenue to be successful in 2017 and beyond. That means engaging shoppers and encouraging them to do business with you in a time where many just aren’t buying. Here’s how you can win their business with live chat:
Maximize Opportunities on Your Website
Savvy dealers already see value in adding a human element to their Websites. However, when the going gets tough, live chat is often one of the first tools to be removed from dealer Websites. That is a grave mistake, given that live chat single-handedly allows dealerships to:
• Cut costs — Phone calls are one-to-one conversations; chat conversations can be one-to-three, allowing dealerships to engage more shoppers effectively. Seize every opportunity and open additional communication avenues.
• Keep shoppers focused on you — You can significantly reduce your Website’s bounce rates with live chat by giving a trained conversationalist the chance to engage and woo customers before they leave to go to a competitor’s site.
• Increase leads and sales — If your chat agent is well-versed and trained for conversations that convert, these chats will result in more set appointments and cars sold. Add value to interactions and always go for the appointment.
You can also let a managed chat provider assist shoppers on your Website. That way, you free up your staff to engage with in-store customers and directly increase sales volume. Keep in mind that experience and expertise are key factors in choosing the right managed chat solution; you don’t want just anyone representing your dealership.
Optimize Other Digital Marketing Efforts
Car buyers aren’t limiting themselves to one device or source of information. And, when sales aren’t hot, your dealership can’t afford to limit itself to one source of lead generation.
Many dealers already invest in multi-channel advertising. What if you could integrate live chat into your strategy and have conversations with online shoppers across channels? Thanks to technological advances, innovative chat providers are leveraging various application program interfaces (APIs) to deliver chat solutions for dealers across communication channels.
For example, some live chat software now integrates with Facebook Messenger. Whether your marketing efforts on the social platform are organic or paid through Facebook Ads, dealers have the ability to integrate live chat into their social media strategy and move more online shoppers through the buying journey on Facebook using chat software.
Empower Today’s Automotive Shoppers
With the possible exception of purchasing a house, buying a car is the single-most emotionally driven purchase a person will make. That means customers need to feel a certain way about the vehicle they’re interested in and about your dealership. The customer needs to be reassured that they are making the right purchasing decision.
No one customer is the same — each will have his or her own unique set of circumstances and motivations when purchasing a vehicle. Use live chat to reinsure customers on their decision and provide a dynamic, human-to-human interaction to meet the unique needs of your customers. Once you respond to these needs, shoppers will be encouraged and confident they’re doing the right thing by doing business with you.
And remember, chat is not child’s play. It takes more than asking for contact information to convert a shopper into a buyer. If your chat representatives aren’t following live chat best practices (i.e. being personable and timely, and adding value to conversations) to earn lead information, they may be tarnishing your reputation and costing you money.
Prepare Your Sales Team to Close
Let’s be frank: If your dealership’s staff doesn’t have a proper live chat follow-up process in place, it won’t matter how great the conversations are; you won’t make any money from chat. You need to build a solid process and enforce it. Here are some questions to ask yourself when developing the chat follow-up process:
• Who will be following up on the leads?
• How quickly should your team be following up on chat leads?
• Are you going to use a round-robin approach or another form of lead distribution among your staff?
• Does your staff understand how to use your CRM to access the chat leads?
• Where will the chat transcripts be stored for your team to review?
And remember to have your team read the transcript before following up. It’s the most valuable resource of information about your customer and the bridge between the online representative and your salesperson. By tailoring your follow-up to what you know about the consumer, you establish trust and continue guiding shoppers down the purchase funnel instead of setting yourself back.
Live Chat is Only a Piece of the Puzzle
In a flattening market, now is not the time to pull back on digital marketing strategies. In fact, quite the opposite. The world is growing more and more connected, and your dealership needs to be where consumers already are — and they need to be ready to act. Yes, live chat is only one piece of the puzzle, but it can be a powerful revenue generator and significantly boost digital interactions and opportunities for your dealership.