Auto Dealer Chat—Seven Must-Have Features that Can Impact a Dealership’s Bottom Line

Car dealerships looking to add auto dealer chat to their dealership websites will find a number of dealer chat companies promising results and offering a variety of enticing features. But which features are truly important and have a direct impact on the bottom line? Many features currently being bundled with auto dealer chat software fail to offer appreciable benefits and are simply “shiny objects.” The following list provides insight into what important chat features dealers should look for when selecting an auto dealer chat provider—those that increase leads, improve response rates or help convert more leads into sales opportunities.


Automatic log-in/log-out


For live chat to work, users must be logged in online and available to accept consumer inquiries. With so much happening at the dealership, salespeople and their supervisors are generally busy. Remembering to log in and out of a chat client each day can be one more step users are likely to forget. Choosing a live chat tool that can automatically detect when dealership salespeople are present and available to answer chats saves managers from having to remind salespeople to log in so that they don’t miss potential chat leads.


The option for dealerships to answer their own chats


Live chat is simply another way for consumers to contact dealerships. Responding to interested buyers and building rapport over the phone is an important part of driving customers into the dealership; the same is true for live chat. Trained salespeople are always a dealership’s best resource for responding to prospect’s questions regarding vehicle inventory, features and affordability. In times when the dealership needs support (peak traffic times, after-hours or when there simply are not enough salespeople available to answer chat leads) routing inquiries to a professionally staffed, outsourced chat center makes sense. In other words, a dealership shouldn’t have to choose between answering their own chat conversation versus outsourcing— they should be able to have the best of both worlds. Live chat providers that give dealerships first preference in answering chats themselves, while also providing the option for reinforcement when necessary, is the best solution.


Use photos of actual salespeople instead of  models


Customers are looking to engage with real people. Statistics show that including the actual name and photo of the dealership salesperson responding to the chat can double the number of chat inquiries dealers receive. Real names and photos also help salespeople build trust and rapport with buyers, knowing that the same person they are chatting with is also someone they are likely to meet and recognize walking into the showroom.  


Ability to answer chats on the go—anytime, anywhere


Consumers reach out and chat with dealerships when it’s convenient for them (whether inside or outside of normal business hours). And in turn, dealership salespeople are more effective when they are free to move about the dealership and are not tied to their computers. Because of this, the ability to answer chat requests using mobile devices such as the Android, Blackberry, iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone becomes a great advantage for dealers. Mobile chat answering means that salespeople remain active and available to consumers even while on the go. As a result, salespeople are able to field a greater number of requests and capitalize on more sales opportunities.


One tool capable of receiving chat leads from across the web


It is well known that the typical online car shopper visits a number of websites (manufacturer, third-party listings, craigslist, etc.) prior to visiting a dealership website. Accepting live chat requests from each of these additional touch points is essential to maximizing a dealership’s online lead and revenue potential. By selecting an auto dealer chat provider that accepts chat inquiries from sources around the web, in addition to the dealership’s own website, dealers are able to increase leads while reducing the number of tools and processes their employees must learn.


Centralized reporting and tracking for all incoming chat leads


Building on the importance of efficiency and consolidation, dealerships are wise to demand a reporting system that tracks their success at responding to chats across all of the websites their chat invitations appear on. Getting a sense for which sources produce the greatest return on investment and which ones require additional attention can help dealers optimize and improve results. In fact, some auto dealer chat providers also enable dealerships to benchmark themselves against other dealerships within the same brand, region or dealer group.


Dealer group-level management


Managing chat across a multi-store group is challenging, especially when using chat solutions designed for single store implementations. Group-level management and tracking features offered by some chat providers allow group administrators, managers and Business Development Centers (BDCs) the ability to configure, manage, and track chat performance across all stores in the group from a single log-in and portal application. 


Aaron Hassen is the director of marketing for Contact At Once! For more information, visit or call 866-356-3880.




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