Contact At Once! 2012 Dealer Survey Results

This year, Automotive chat vendor Contact At Once! will manage over 4.5 million website chats between consumers and auto dealers, 33 times the number generated just five years ago. Given the increasing use of chat in automotive, it’s not surprising that many dealerships have questions about the implementation of website chat and its benefits.

CAO 2012 Dealer Chat Request Growth Rate

Between August and September of this year, Contact At Once! asked its dealer-base to participate in an annual survey about live chat and more than 2,500 of them responded, sharing their experiences and providing their feedback. Here are a few takeaways from the survey:

Do Dealers Sell Cars to People Who Chat?

Result: More than 2 in 3 dealers said they close at least 2 deals a month with consumers who first contacted their dealership via chat.  Of those, half say they sell 6 or more cars per month and more than 10% report selling 20 or more cars per month to shoppers who originally contacted their dealership by chat.  When asked to rate how they feel about recommending chat as a “sure way to sell more cars,” the majority said they would.

How Many Cars Do You Sell?

Where Do Chats Come From?

Result: Users say they get chats from a variety of sources.  About 60% report chatting on dealership websites and about the same number receive chats from the top three online ad sites.  Regional classifieds, social media and others made the list as well, illustrating the benefit of having chat in many locations.  Online shoppers get around when they’re looking for cars.  The more places you chat, the better your chances of connecting with a potential buyer.  Many Contact At Once! users get chats from at least a dozen different websites.

Do I Really Need to Use Chat?

Result: Contact At Once! data consistently show that dealerships experience a conversion lift of 25% or more when they implement chat on websites that have previously only invited contact by email or phone.  Some users did say they don’t consider chatting mandatory, but on the other hand, almost half gave it the highest ratings as a must-have sales tool.

Can Chat Give You A Competitive Advantage?

Result: Looking to stand out from the crowd?  Chat may be just the thing. Most Contact At Once! users said they believe chat gives them a competitive advantage.  Internet sales and BDC staffs feel even more strongly about chat as a differentiator, with almost 2 in 3 giving it the thumbs-up as a means for getting a leg-up on competitors.

 CHat is a game changer quote bubble

The Bottom Line

Go forth and chat!  According to the latest statistics from, adoption of chat on dealership websites continues to grow, with over 20% of all dealerships now utilizing the product.

If you’d like to find out more the Contact At Once! survey, visit

About the Author

Jeff Kershner

I’m the founder of DealerRefresh. I got my start in the dealer business when I was 18. From there I've worked throughout several departments within fixed to variable ops. Whether it’s managing the desk, perfecting sales process or studying online marketing and media trends, I absolutely love this business and the challenges it brings. On top of keeping up with DealerRefresh, I consult with dealerships and key industry businesses. My passion has been and continues to be helping dealers leverage new media to sell and improve customer service.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.