Winning the Digital Race for More Showroom Shoppers


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It’s not just the kids who want instant gratification now. Admit it, even though you may remember dial-up connections, you get irritated when it takes longer than two seconds for a web page to load. Every shopper wants answers right here, right now. If you can’t give them, you’ll “lose the race,” as Chris Hill, e-commerce director for Bill Jacobs Auto Group, states. In fact, quick responses are an important part of almost any good customer service experience today, according to 69 percent of respondents in a 2013 survey by Dimensional Research1.

So if you want to “win” the shopper, one of the first steps is being quick on your feet in communication. Answer their questions, build trust and help them get to know you…before they go to your competitor, advises Hill. And since people shop for vehicles online well before buying in person, the race starts there. Get a head start with these pointers:

Make yourself available everywhere.

Based in Illinois, Hill’s dealership consistently brings in sales from Wisconsin and other states. “I think a lot of it has to do with our online presence and customers knowing we’ll be there to help them,” says Hill. “We’re available in any facet they want—chats, texts, calls, emails or in-person visits. Such online, real-person availability helps open up your business not just to your city, but to the entire country.”

Put chat on your websites and ads

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Adding live chat to your dealership websites and online ads is one of Hill’s top suggestions. “Chat is right here, right now; it’s like a direct feed to the customer,” he explains. With chat, his team is able to 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.

Use dealer chat to increase leads.

By increasing your availability, chat helps increase leads and gives your team more sales opportunities (more “swings at the plate,” as Hill puts it). “If you’re hitting five out of ten, wouldn’t you rather be hitting 25 out of 50?” Hill also makes this lead capture comparison: Renting an email list may cost you 2,000 dollars for one email to about 1,500 people. “But I’m picking these contacts up through chat all month long and may end up with about 600 people for follow-up. For the cost, I don’t have a cheaper lead provider (and they really are the best leads).”

Train your team to use dealer chat.

“Your message is one of the most important things you have,” says Hill. “No one can hit that home like someone who works right there with you.” That’s why he’s a big believer in using your current sales team to work internet leads. He had great success training his team to answer chats and backing them up with Contact At Once! chat professionals who answer when they are busy.



As Hill has experienced, website chat can help you reach the shopper earlier in the race and guide them into your dealership, helping you get those extra sales each month. “You can still thrive in your local market if you don’t have chat, but this technology is spreading across the country and is only going to get more used,” he notes. “If you’re not on board with chat soon, you’ll be behind…racing to catch up.” (Watch Chris Hill’s “Your Return on Chat” video for even more information.)2

1 www.emarketer.com/Article/On-Web-Customer-Service-Stories-Move-Fast/1009834#uzUpVtsYsdmDZpgR.99

2 www.vimeo.com/66079823

Aaron Hassen is a lead evangelist for the number one rated live chat provider, Contact At Once!. His passion for merchant-to-consumer communications began in 2004 when he founded a locally successful online and print classified advertising company. After selling the company to a competitor in 2008, Aaron went on to lead the marketing departments of several high-performing (INC 500, Deloitte Fast 500) technology firms. In 2010, Aaron took on the role of Director of Marketing for Contact At Once! and, alongside VP of Sales, Ed Parkinson, began educating the automotive marketplace about the benefits of instant and direct online communication with consumers. Today, it is estimated that approximately 27 percent of auto dealerships include live chat on their websites, an increase of nearly 15 percent from 2010.

Michael Bowen

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