Automotive Digital Marketing ProCom

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Are You Available When Your Customers Are?

The internet has changed our world. The concept of "business hours" has been turned on its head. People are buying things online at 2 in the morning. They're researching vehicles after the kids are in bed. They're planning out how to drop off their vehicle in your service department and still get to work on time at 4am.

When they have questions, are you there for them? Chances are that you do not have a receptionist there to answer questions by phone overnight. A contact form or email simply won't fulfill all of their needs in the timely manner they expect. This is where 24-hour chat comes into play.

In the example above, we described the person who wants to know about your service department and how she'll get to work. This isn't a hypothetical. It actually happens. We see chats all the time inquiring about hours and transportation. If you're not there to answer their questions, you're missing out on potential business. She can't wait until 7am to decide where to drop off her car if she has to be at work at 8am. Answering her questions at 4am when she's inquiring is the key to getting that business secured.

Many people like to do the majority of their web surfing at night when there are no distractions or responsibilities. Those who do not have 24-hour chat miss those opportunities when people are surfing their website late at night or early in the morning and they have questions that they need answered.

There's a reason that many companies do not offer 24-hour chat. It's not easy to maintain a properly trained chat operator staff that can be there at all hours of the day or night, so they talk about how "real" buyers only inquire during business hours. We've seen that the exact opposite is true, that people who are researching during off hours are often easier to convert into a lead than someone who is researching during the day.

When your customers come knocking at your virtual door, are you making your dealership available to answer their questions?

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Tags: chat

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Comment by Jeffery Sterns on September 2, 2014 at 6:50pm

Brian Bennington: "it could be most effective handled internally by the dealership"

Brian, you made some super points and I love your passion! How do you and management feel when they listen to the call listening tools? That is usually where the answer to handling something internally is found. I rarely ask a room full of dealers how they feel after listening to their calls....and get warm and fuzzy smiles. Sometimes an angry mob forms! But seriously, take the average phone up handling, mix in some mis-spellings and grammar ...sprinkle TYPING IN CAPS (yelling at the shopper) and that's what self handling chat often looks like....unless the store has Ninja Jerry on staff (and like a barber, his market will never end up due to erosion of training).

"I'd really like to know hard numbers of customers that "car shop" between, say 10PM and 6AM"

Brian, we deliver approximately 30% of all leads...so, 30 for every 100 leads we make... are after hours and Sunday. Tim Elliot is on the money.

"if I had any genuine interest in chat, which I really don't, I'd be interested to hear a good presentation of it."

Brian, to paraphrase Joe Verde ..."some salespeople are measuring the difficulty of the customer so they know how much effort to put in"....I don't wanna' be that guy! So, here's an offer...let me present chat concept to you. We can even post the agreed time and screen share and phone bridge info here in case anyone else has curiosities (and so I don't do it 15 times :) ) or wants to lambaste me for being pitchy. 

I don't need to make it all about our company. I can tell you how we see it, what we've seen and show you some analytic items and then you will be firmer in your resolve or shaky in your position or converted! Then if you convert, you can decide the provider later. I promise not to pitch. I may have difficulty concealing that I love my business, company and owner. That may come through. Fair?

My cell is 727-638-0069. I'm at AutoCon but happy to take your call and schedule it after this conference.

Comment by Brian Bennington on September 2, 2014 at 6:24pm

While I understand the principle of 24 hour chat with new "will call anytime night or day" customers, I'm inclined to believe it could be most effective handled internally by the dealership.  Honestly, I'd really like to know hard numbers of customers that "car shop" between, say 10PM and 6AM, and if shopping then really is so popular, the dealer should have a dedicated (trained) employee handle it.

Personally, I'm impressed by the number of companies offering off-premises chat, as it must be a relatively difficult sale.  It just seems to be a "souped up" version of the "live operator" answering service.  (And yes, I know there's "special training" involved, but a "rose by any other name is still a rose.")  The "what happens if you're not there" pitch in this post seems to be another variation of the classic "back the hearse up, open the doors, and let 'em smell the flowers" style.  Actually, if I had any genuine interest in chat, which I really don't, I'd be interested to hear a good presentation of it.       

Comment by Tim Elliott on September 2, 2014 at 6:22am

On the low end it's 20 %, on the high end it's 35 %. These are % of monthly UV-Unique Visits that come to your Dealership website AFTER store hours. So go pull your site report and look at the last 90 days. How Many UV ? 2500 ? 5000? Now multiply that by 25 %. That's how many lost opportunities you missed by NOT having 24/7 Managed Chat. What do we say to our sales team when we let an "UP" walk ?........there is simply NO reason not to have it...unless you like driving opportunity to your competition. 

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