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The concept of dealer staff selling cars with chat and text is simple. Answer the chat requests when a shopper is on the website and start selling a car, right? Not so fast. As with many facets of putting a car deal together, there is a significant amount of art and science required for success.
It’s surprising how often we see transcripts of chat or text conversations in which the dealer chat operator spends as much as 20 minutes or more answering questions. Sometimes it’s clear that they are running all over the dealership getting questions answered from the service department or sales manager’s desk and never get around to asking for, or getting, contact information for the shopper.
The best positioning for a chat operator
During a phone up, the goal is generally to start the sales process and set an appointment, if possible. With chat or text, the goal is to get quality contact and their permission to be contacted by dealer staff. Regardless of the chat operator’s role in the dealership (internet sales, GSM, or even GM), they should have the title of ‘chat operator’. Think of the position JUST LIKE the receptionist.
How often does someone leave a voicemail on the main phone number after hours? Maybe once or twice a month. But if they call in the morning looking for someone during the sales meeting, the caller will generally leave a message because a LIVE PERSON said their call would be returned. Do you want the receptionist answering questions about inventory, availability or best price? Probably not, and the same goes for your chat operators. But because a LIVE PERSON promised that the message would be received, the caller has a lot more confidence.
Operators should be a resource
The best way for an operator to help online shoppers is definitely to answer all the basic questions possible. Things like hours, directions, and product questions are a must for the chat operator. However, inquiries about product availability, discounted pricing, trade value, or challenging credit give the operator the perfect reason to ask the website visitor for contact information and if someone from the store can call them back. That is the best way, even if the same operator is going to be following up on the lead.
There are two major reasons this is not only the best way to handle the conversation, but also why it works. First, the chat operator can spend a half hour or more answering everything and never actually get contact information (this happens a LOT). Also, dealer staff have much better success rates on the phone than through messaging, when possible.
There are dozens of ways mechanics can impact the effectiveness of chat. But when it comes to the human factor, the last thing you want is to invest the money and staffing time to have in-house team members handling these conversations, only to lost the chance to sell a car, truck, or SUV. It is possible to have chat success in the store, but like many other facets of the business, time and effort are required.