By Aaron Hassen
We live in the age of instant gratification. (Admit it — you’re irritated when a Web page takes longer than two seconds to load.) Everyone wants answers right here, right now, including the car shopper. And if you can’t give them, you’ll “lose the race,” as Chris Hill, E-Commerce Director for Bill Jacobs Auto Group, states.
“Customers are shopping online for vehicles, parts and service long before buying them in person,” says Hill. “But beyond price, they still want to know if a dealership is reputable, if the car you’re selling is good, even how available you are if something comes up.”
How do you show all that? Communication is key; it helps online shoppers trust and get a feel for your business. That’s why Hill’s dealership uses a variety of communication methods to solidify themselves as the easy-to-deal-with dealership. In fact, though based in Illinois, they consistently bring in sales from Wisconsin, Indiana, etc.
“Maybe that’s due to the prices, but I think a lot of it is customers knowing we’ll be there to talk with and help them,” Hill explains. “We’re reaching customers on a level few others do because we’re everywhere. If they are comfortable texting, chatting, calling, emailing or walking in the door, they can do it and get fast, consistent service.”
Using Dealer Chat to Tip the Scales
Being available helps increase leads so you can “take more swings,” as Hill puts it. “If you’re hitting 5 out of 10, wouldn’t you rather be hitting 25 out of 50?” Answering chats is one way his dealership has added to those sales opportunities. (Thanks to Internet chat leads, his salespeople started selling about 8–9 more cars/month than they were before.)
“Chat is right here, right now; it’s a direct feed to the customer,” Hill adds. And with dealer chat on their websites and online ads, he says they are better able to engage busy professionals and others who just don’t want to talk on the phone. They can also streamline the process for answering questions, make people feel more comfortable about doing business with them, and even collect quite a bit of customer data.
Now, Hill notes you can survive without chat. He wonders, though, whether you’ll be able to compete if the dealership down the street starts communicating in the way many shoppers prefer. “If you’re not on board with this chat technology soon, you’ll be racing to catch up,” he says. “Plus, your chat processes and techniques won’t be as honed as someone who’s been using it for years. Who wants to be behind like that?”
Aaron Hassen is Chat Evangelist at Contact at Once! Visit the auto dealer chat site at for more helpful information.