Why Do We Need Chat?
While there has been a lot of talk about how to use automotive chat in your dealership, this might be a good time to better understand why you should consider using chat. Before you flip the page, put yourself in the shopper’s shoes. When the customer calls on the phone, do you try to sell a car during that call? Likely not—no one likes a hard sell over the phone.
Instead, you likely use a phone call to answer their questions and to build a sense of rapport between your dealership and the customer. Doing so builds trust, and trust allows your team to schedule an appointment to come into the dealership to see the vehicle and take a test drive. We all know that a test drive greatly increases the likelihood that a car shopper will soon convert to a car buyer.
It’s all about the process—the “up” calls in, asks questions, and the savvy sales professional serves a consultative role. By putting the customer at ease, making them feel comfortable with the dealership, and the people representing the dealership, it stands to reason that the customer will come into your dealership for that test drive, and not the go down the street.
With dealer chat, a similar process applies. Instead of looking at the Sunday newspaper ad and calling your dealership, more and more shoppers begin the shopping process online. While they are doing some research, they may have questions that can’t be answered by googling it. They want immediate answers on their terms.
So, why don’t they just pick up the phone and call? Some will, of course, but there are a host of reasons why many won’t call: They could be at work or in a public place, and wish to keep their conversation quiet; they may perceive that a chat conversation will protect their privacy (we all know how caller ID works) and so does the customer; or it could be the result of an interesting cultural trend—a dramatic shift towards real-time, text-based communications.
There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t observe someone using a mobile phone. But increasingly, they aren’t calling, they’re texting. This is more than just a casual observation. In the Mobile Media Report—State of the Media—Q3 2011, Nielsen Media states that from 2009 to 2011, the number of text messages sent and received has grown by 35 percent and 44 percent respectively, while the number of voice minutes used has decreased by 12 percent.
Don’t be fooled into thinking it is just the younger segment following this trend. Nielsen reports that the strongest growth in terms of percentages is in those 55 years and older: up 135 percent when compared to same period in 2009.
This much is clear, your customers are expressing a strong desire to connect via text-based communications. Automotive chat is an ideal way to accommodate that desire.
Bill Sengstacken is director of marketing at dealer chat provider, Contact At Once! For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.