The hard truth: winter is coming. And with winter, comes white walkers snow and ice that require consumers to switch from their summer to winter tires. Car parts and services search queries happen year round, but many queries see huge seasonal peaks that your dealership should be capitalizing on. With the looming seasonal change upon us, is your dealership ready to face the long night?
How many times have you shopped online and had a little chat window pop up to see if there’s anything they can help you with? This is definitely becoming more and more of a phenomenon as an ever-increasing number of people are researching their purchases on a computer or mobile device before going in store. Some are even going through the buying cycle strictly online. Time is money afterall, and something we never seem to have enough of. In fact, according to Google, 97 percent of people are using the Internet when researching a vehicle, and on average they are using 26 sources of information before making a decision.
There are numerous arguments going both ways for whether you should have chat on your site or not. Initially, most would think that it would have a negative appeal to users searching your products online as the little box floating across your screen can sometimes seem invasive, and, at times, flat-out annoying. The reality is that since consumers are constantly online and nowadays everyone is connected, we shoppers are becoming more impatient when we have to wait for our questions to be answered or when we can’t easily find what we’re looking for online.
This is where chat comes into play. If done correctly, not only does it help web visitors find what they’re looking for, it can also help boost your leads and build a positive rapport, increasing returning customers in the process.
Tips for Getting It Right
If you didn’t catch the message, here it is again: If done correctly, there are numerous benefits to reap from chat. But that is a pretty big if.
Here are some questions to keep in mind when searching for a chat provider:
Do they offer 24/7 chat service?
• While you’re sitting at home at 8pm, immersing yourself in a good book, people almost ready to buy a car could be browsing your site. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you had someone available to ensure that these visitors were finding what they came to look for? Having a chat provider that offers 24/7 service will guarantee that all of your remote or off-hours customers are being taken care of, even while you’re sleeping.
Do customers need to work before they can initiate a conversation?
• When the chat window pops up, does the service ask you to submit your name, phone number, and email in order to ask a question? This type of up-front fricton is definitely one way to alienate your customers, and it’s something you don’t want in a chat provider. Having to give up personal information when you haven’t even asked a question yet is a sure-fire way to get people to leave your site and maybe never come back. Instead, what you should be looking for is a provider that customizes their introdution based on what the user is looking at. For instance, if they are on the Used Vehicle Inventory page, the ice breaker questions should specifically be related to used cars, rather than asking for their name and email “in case they get disconnected.”
Are they experts in your industry?
• Just because a company is offering chat, it doesn’t mean they are experts in your industry. This is where you will want to uncover within what fields a particular chat provider has competencies. If they’re all over the map, offering chat services for enterprises ranging from travel to heavy machinery, they may not be the one for you. Since they will essentially be the face of your customer service online, you want to make sure that they at least know what they’re talking about and are knowledgeable about the industry.
Is the chat service self-operated?
• If you’re a sales manager, what do you want your sales team to focus on? Making sales, of course. So where is the best place to have your team? On the floor, naturally, face-to-face with customers, trying to build relationships and rapport. If your sales team had to man your online chat while also taking care of customers walking into the dealership, your sales team would be constantly pulled away from the floor. And there’s still the possibility that some or many online chat inquiries would be missed. This would leave potential revenue on the floor, and customers feeling ignored. Make sure to find a chat provider that mans their own service, and, as mentioned in the first point, is available 24/7.
Is Your Dealership Ready to Chat with Customers?
If you’ve never considered chat before, maybe it’s time. If you’re interested in seeing a demo of what chat can do for you, of if you think you’re ready to take the plunge and sign up, contact your Strathcom rep today!
Why are auto dealers reluctant to do what’s right? There are three ingredients that so many get wrong. These ingredients only cost a little time, and yet they are the most effective ways of attracting leads. So why not embrace them? When department managers and salespeople become ‘reluctant’ to adopt modern sales concepts, I always tell them “It’s just the way business is done.” None of this is just my opinion, even though I am flattered when they think it is. I’m not just saying this to justify my existence. These are just the facts:
Describing your product in detail is a necessity.
New statistics from Google, Shopper Sciences, JD power and others show that car buyers now only visit 1.3 stores before buying a vehicle, down from 1.7 last year. That’s basically one store. They make their decision before they arrive at the dealership, and it is often based on research they’ve done online. Watch this to see how all of this comes into play. Some clients say “yeah, but if you tell them everything they won’t call the dealership.” Sorry, but that is complete and utter BS. We have a dealer who removed their online pricing information based on this old-school principle, and their bounce rate rose to 87% (this is the percentage of people who immediately leave their site after viewing a web page). Dealers who put little to no effort into vehicle pictures also have a high bounce rate of 50 – 60 %. You need decent descriptions and images to attract leads. Consider your shoppers – people in their underwear, browsing the internet in their warm cozy homes – if they don’t find the information they need, they will simply click ‘X’ and move on to another website. These are not just my ideas, nor just my research. This is verified by Google, Amazon, eBay, Kijiji, Nike, Apple, Microsoft, Wal-Mart and others who have all spent billions of dollars researching this.
Don’t be reluctant to describe your products online.
Every day I come up against dealers who are reluctant to do what is right, and I don’t know why. Explaining your products in detail doesn’t cost anything, doesn’t take hours to do and isn’t difficult. If you look at the websites of 100 of the top Fortune 500 companies, you will find their products explained in acute detail. They don’t limit their descriptions in the hope that someone might call or ‘come down’ to learn more. The only group that holds onto the false practice of limited descriptions is the automotive industry. And, ironically, the place that consumers least like to visit is a car dealership (don’t shoot the messenger!). By that rationale, dealerships should focus on having the most educational websites. If your car buyer is able to learn everything they need from your website before coming in, you will win over many more customers than that dealership down the road whose primary advertising technique is balloons on their cars and gorillas on the roof. Oh yeah, the three things: pictures, descriptions and a good reply email are three areas dealers are doing wrong.
That last factor, a good reply email, is more important than you may think.
When you receive an email from a potential customer, don’t necessarily go with your gut instinct to phone them directly. Reply to your customers with the information that they need, and in the manner that they request. If they ask you to phone them back, go ahead. But don’t call them just to work your sales magic. Build trust with your customer by giving them precisely what they request, and not pushing the sale. This is a big part of succeeding in the auto industry today. Stuart Bendall