Best PracticesDealership Communication ToolsDealership Operations & Processes

The Enormous Untapped Potential of Live Chat for Service – Part I

New vehicle sales in the US came in below Spring’s market expectations, evidence the industry is starting to experience the decline analysts have been expecting despite new vehicle incentives. As new car sales flatten, the service drive will play a critical part in dealership revenue. Not that it hasn’t in the past:

Total profit-for-average-US-dealers-light-vehicles

According to recent NADA data, fixed operations account for nearly 50% of dealership revenue. But for some reason, dealers still don’t give the service drive any digital love. In fact, a recent study by the National Automobile Dealers Association indicated that dealers are only leveraging 3% of their digital marketing to optimize service drive performance. Fortunately, you probably already have the tools available to vastly improve your service department’s digital presence and your bottom line. One of those powerful tools is live chat.

Before I get into the ways your service drive can utilize chat to boost ROI (I’ll save those tips for another article), let’s go into WHY chat is the untapped potential of your digital fixed ops and, specifically, service.

Live Chat Caters to Today’s Automotive Consumers

At last year’s NADA convention, Peter Leto, the Head of Automotive Retail at Google, shed light on some interesting consumer trends:

actions before purchasing a vehicle

According to Google, online car buyers behave much differently than traditional car buyers. They prefer a digital conversation first, before making the commitment to come into the dealership to move forward in the buying process. As a result, online chat and text have become an increasingly popular method of communication to connect and communicate with online shoppers.

Advances in technology have created more lines of communication for the online consumer. They no longer want mass-produced, one-way messages, but rather personal and instantaneous two-way communication. Digital tools such as chat can provide real-time communication and provide the dealers with sales and service customers.

Think about it: tech giants like Google and Facebook understand the value of real-time digital conversations for both consumers and businesses, which is why instant messaging tools have propagated themselves into exciting new avenues like Facebook Ads and Google Adwords.

In fact, this evolution of social communication channels has allowed some of the most innovative chat providers to assist in bringing new integration features to market that help your dealership’s service department expand its reach online. So essentially, your service department can maximize its digital footprint across platforms, get more out of current marketing efforts, and ultimately give the people what they want with one tool.

Live Chat Can Vastly Improve Your Satisfaction Scores

Popular sites like Amazon invest heavily in review quality because they understand shoppers want to hear other customers’ experiences

More and more dealerships are following suit and leveraging reviews to build their service department’s reputation. And reviews are everywhere — Google, Facebook, review sites, dealer websites, etc. But if you’re service drive gets the wrong kind of attention on any of these, it’s not so easy to move the needle on overall satisfaction.

Imagine a car owner whose check engine light turned on right after receiving service. Or a customer who came into the service drive and didn’t receive the care he or she expected. In situations like these, live chat can serve as a medium for mediation! Upset customers just want to be heard, and live chat gives them the opportunity to express their concerns. Meanwhile, you get a second chance to address the situation and protect your CSI.

Much like face-to-face conversations, live chat interactions have the power to create lasting impressions on your service customers. Just like a service advisor would in-person, online reps have the opportunity to:

  • Build rapport with web visitors via text-based conversation
  • Add value and transparency to the online experience through real-time education and customer service
  • Assist in online service scheduling by leveraging software technology
  • Guide conversations into conversions using word tracks and live chat data

Final Food For Thought

Look, today’s service customers aren’t easy to win over. They’re impatient, have preconceived notions of what to expect at the dealership, and even if the come in for service once, there’s a chance they might never come back.

But while building lasting relationships with your fixed ops shoppers can be a challenge, it’s not impossible. You just need to bring the human touch to the online world — regardless of technology, people still want to buy from people. Tools like live chat will HELP you deliver an efficient, outstanding experience – both on and offline – that your customers will remember, and come back for.

Believe it or not, customers can be loyal — if you treat them like people, one conversation at a time.

Continue reading Part 2

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