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Autofusion News What's Hot and What's Not Why Online Chat is Essential for Dealer Websites

What Is Online Chat and How Is It Helpful to Visitors?

Your dealership’s website has a contact form and phone number, but does it have an online chat function? If it doesn’t, then you’re missing out on the newest way to engage online car buyers. Since people visit your website at different times during the day, they’re not always ready to call or submit information through the contact form. Many visitors prefer immediate attention when they have a question, and that’s exactly what they get if your site has an online chat service.

How Can It Help You Generate More Leads?

You might be wondering, “How does online chat generate leads if the visitor does not have to give any personal contact information?” Well, let’s compare online chat with telephone calls. When customers call the phone number on your dealer website, they may ask a quick question and then end the conversation, or give more information that becomes a sales lead. The same is true with online chat: not all conversations result in a full-fledged lead, but it’s better to have it than to rely only on phone calls and contact forms.

One key difference is that many managed online chat providers now package their services with descriptive analytics tools to go with the full chat transcript. This means that after a visitor uses an online chat for help, you are sent the chat transcript, any lead information gained, and analytics data such as click paths, geo-targeting and keywords the visitor used to find your website. Analytics data resulting from online chat conversations can help you better understand what your visitors are looking for and how they interact within your website. The information you get from online chat is thus more descriptive than what you would get from telephone conversations or contact forms.

The Next Step: Implementing Online Chat for Your Dealer Website

As online chat increases in popularity, more providers are competing to give you their best solution. ContactAtOnce ( and ActivEngage ( are two prominent providers, and each company offers different metrics and services to help you get the most out of online chat. ContactAtOnce is used by more than 9,000 auto dealers, and it is the only chat service that connects your dealership with online car buyers from third party sites like AutoTrader, and As another leading competitor, ActivEngage gives you access to a self-managed BDC team, whose members will directly chat with visitors through your website. Each provider has its own merits, but always make sure you use an online chat service that comes with web-based analytics data, so you can track and gain more information about each visitor.

Online chat gives your website visitors a way to instantly talk to a knowledgeable representative. By offering online chat on your dealer website, you provide visitors with a third alternative to calling or filling out a contact form. Car buyers who want to ask a quick question or get instant, personalized help are more likely to use online chat if it is not convenient for them to call or wait for a response. From the perspective of Internet users, online chat is less intrusive because it does not require visitors to submit any personal information in order to ask a question.

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Tags: car, chat, customer, dealerships, leads, management, online, reputation, service


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Comment by Mina K. on November 2, 2011 at 10:25am
Thanks for reading and for your information, Justin! The eBook also looks extremely helpful.
Comment by Justin Braun on November 2, 2011 at 6:38am
Excellent article.  For additional help choosing the live chat provider that's right for your dealership, download this FREE ebook:
Automotive Dealer Live Chat Buyers’ Guide

11 Key Questions to Ask Any Live Chat Provider Before You Buy

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