Putting Website Chat and Text to Work for Your Dealership

By Shawn Puckett

How do you and your dealership team plan to connect with busy online shoppers this summer? Phone and email are very handy, but they tend to leave gaps in your availability – if you miss a phone call or you’re unable to check your email all morning, you could lose out on fast-moving leads.

Quick, easy communication channels like website chat and texting are the key to catching and keeping online shoppers. In fact, you should consider website chat and text to be your ultimate customer-service duo.

Website chat benefits

Prior to the emergence of live website chat, online shoppers didn’t have the convenience of receiving customer service in real time, which was a real roadblock for website visitors. Website chat is especially appealing to new customers, who typically have lots of questions that they would like answered as soon as possible.

Website chat can benefit shoppers and your sales team alike:

  • Real-time website connections: Many online shoppers find email responses take too long for their liking and talking on the phone is often inconvenient. For these shoppers, live chat is a welcome solution. Shoppers who are browsing on your website right now can receive rapid responses to inquiries and progress quickly through the sales funnel with the assistance of your team.
  • Better brand equity: In its Global Consumer Trend study, Oracle reported that 90 percent of consumers are more trusting of brands that provide website chat because they know that quick online assistance is only a click away. Consumer confidence breeds better brand equity, which creates bigger and better lead conversion.
  • Streamlined multi-shopper communication: While phone and email limit how many simultaneous conversations your team can have with shoppers, website chat is designed to make multitasking easy. Multiple conversations can be addressed by only a few employees, which means the rest of your team can focus on other sales priorities.

Texting to gain traction

Website chat is an ideal solution for shoppers who are active on your platform, but what about the leads who have progressed past your website and need fast, flexible communication offline?

Texting with businesses is rapidly gaining popularity, especially among current customers who know your dealership and prefer informal communication. The convenience of texting enables your team to gain faster traction with current and returning customers. Here are just a few of its advantages:

  • Offer flexible availability: Mobile phones introduced us to the ability to communication anytime from practically anywhere. While Wi-fi restrictions may make it difficult to sustain a website chat conversation while running errands around town, most everyone can send and receive texts.
  • Sustain contact with customers: Following an initial purchase, you can invite customers to stay connected with your dealership through text. Shoppers appreciate the convenience of sending a text to schedule a service appointment, receive maintenance reminders and ask questions about their new lawncare unit.
  • Get feedback from shoppers: Gathering customer feedback can be chaotic, especially if your current method is to remind departing shoppers to leave an online review and hope they get around to it. With texting, you can take the power of your online reputation into your hands by sending follow-up texts with a request to send feedback to you. Your team can then share those glowing reviews on your website and social media.

Using website chat and text together

Website chat and texting offer their unique benefits, but did you know they also make the ultimate customer service duo?

  • Chat online and offline: Offering both live chat and text lets you connect with shoppers at any stage of their journey, no matter if they are browsing your website or chatting with your team on the go.
  • Transition channels seamlessly: As shoppers progress beyond your website, you don’t have to worry about losing the lead. Simply invite them to text your team and keep the conversation going.
  • Grow your availability and shopper confidence: Even if leads don’t use every type of communication available, just knowing that your business can be reached through a variety of channels increases confidence in your brand.

Summertime is especially busy for OPE dealers, which is why your communication channels must be able to keep up with shoppers as they transition from lead to customer. Website chat and text create a flexible strategy that supports both shoppers and your sales team as they work toward a common goal – making a purchase.

Shawn Puckett is director of product management at ARI Network Services, Inc. (www.arinet.com).

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