Thinking of Self-Managed Chat? Make Sure You Have a Good Mirror

In March the Hubble Space Telescope was able to photograph a baby galaxy more than 13 billion light years away because of amazing digital imaging and an eight-foot mirror. However, when it was originally launched into space more than a quarter century ago, the first images it sent back to earth were blurry because its mirror was incorrectly manufactured. And so it is with your digital marketing strategy for live chat – if you want to handle it in-house, you need to look in the mirror and be sure to get clear picture of your team’s ability to manage it.

Tossing chat on your dealership website to boost leads sounds simple enough… install the software and start talking to customers, right? Well, not so fast. Just like the Hubble team hoping for great results when they turned it on, handling chat in-house can meet a similar fate without some clarity. Here are six key tips for your self-managed chat setup that can make your situation more successful:

  1. Choose a quality operator platform – it is critical to use an effective chat console for your operators that has a mobile phone option
  2. Ensure your customer-facing chat software has a popup invite for all platforms and has a smooth mobile device interface
  3. Install chat software that does NOT slow page load speeds on the website. Last year Google started penalizing slow-loading pages with lower page rankings
  4. Respond to chat requests within ten seconds or less. It seems self-explanatory, but four- to six-second response times are ideal to avoid shoppers abandoning a chat conversation
  5. Consider a third-party backup chat provider option if your operators are tied up or logged off
  6. Don’t try to sell the car through chat – the intent of live chat is to generate quality lead information, then use normal phone, email and (opted-in) SMS follow-up

Each of these points is key, but at the end of the day the most important factor is staffing. Using the BDC team is generally the most effective way to respond to chat requests. For many managers the instinct is to assign the sales team, but there are a few drawbacks to that. First, as many as half of all chat conversations are about topics NOT related to selling a car, such as parts and service department questions, CSI issues and other inquiries like resetting clocks. These non-sales conversations don’t always get the attention they deserve from salespeople.

Another challenge dealers face using the sales team is training. Here is where the mirror comes in. How well does your team handle phone ups? If handing out gift cards all the time because they’re awesome, then it may be worth considering, though you take them away from actually selling. But if you’re not entirely pleased with phone-ups, add in typing ability, spelling and grammar errors, all caps, new software and maybe doing it in-house isn’t so ideal. That is why so many dealers opt for full-time managed chat support from a quality vendor.

Scientists were able to fix the Hubble mirror problems, resulting in some incredible photos of deep space. Be sure when you look in the mirror regarding your store’s ability to handle chat you have a clear picture of your team’s readiness for this task.