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Auto Chat

Introducing the SaleMove Auto Chat Robot (Managed Chat?)

Introducing the brand new SaleMove Managed Automotive Robot Chat (MARC)!

Why bother developing rapport with your customers when MARC can focus on charming your customers for you!

Try speaking with MARC (click above) using some of the phrases below to see him in action:

  • I am looking to buy a car
  • I want to buy a car
  • How much is this car?
  • Is this car available?

Or make something up! MARC is just like having a coffee guzzling sales consultant that is awake all night to handle your customers questions. He is programmed to act just like one of your very own! Forget staffing your online showroom because MARC has your back!

Just kidding of course!

Many of today’s Live Chat providers have developed “managed chat” or a way of outsourcing incoming chats from website visitors. Managed chat comes in two flavors, either robots like MARC or call-center-esque “Internet Response Teams”. These two methods were fine when the Internet just started to develop because it was convenient to simply have someone else “handle” online visitors. However, the Internet today is much more robust and websites are becoming an extension of physical stores. As such, customers will come to expect a customer experience akin to that which they receive when they visit a store in person. The future is about replicating the showroom experience online.

Managed Chat

In the automotive industry, managed chat is used to ensure that there is someone available to answer questions 24 hrs a day. Many dealerships are bent on using this service because they believe it is the best way to get the most leads out of live chat. However, this is a short run perspective. Yes, maybe the internet response team can squeeze out a number of names and emails every month but the customer would have likely left that information anyway. Furthermore, it should really be about quality and not quantity when it comes to leads- are 10 email addresses better than 1 close? Of course not. Closes are generated from meaningful communication with the customer so why outsource that very communication? So that we can have more leads? In the long run, a more robust Internet and the expectations from customers (especially those of younger generations) of a better form of interaction, managed chat as we know it today will eventually fade into the sunset.

A few more points about why managed chat is on the way out:

1. The goal is to collect customer information: Even with a simple question, the response is usually punctuated with “what is your email and phone number.” Managed chat is a form of lead gen not customer engagement

2. Canned messaging tends to be painfully scripted: 90% of managed chat seems as though it was written in the past. Watch for perfect spelling & punctuation and superhuman typing speeds.

3. Customers rarely feel truly helped: Try getting a straight answer from a managed chat service, it will feel like you are going in circles.

4. Low touch interaction: Audio and video is non existant with managed chat and co-browsing consists of pushing you links instead of truly browsing the website together.

5. Can be very s…l…o…w: It can sometimes feel like you are talking to a wall… that’s amidst a nap. This can be because the goal for managed chat is efficiency and they may talking to a number of customers at once.

Don’t believe me? Head over to a dealership website that uses “managed chat” and try out their chat to see for yourself.

Below are some questions that I have asked on real dealership websites:

System: We have alerted the online representatives that you are waiting. Someone should be with you momentarily.

We appreciate your patience. One of the online representatives should be with you momentarily.

We appreciate your patience. One of the online representatives should be with you momentarily. (It says that cause most of the time it takes that long.)

Does the 2013 Accord have 4 weel drive?

I will need to have our Manager confirm if the 2013 Accord is a 4wd. What is the best email address and phone number to contact you about this?

Is the 2013 Dodge Dart a good family car?

I’d be happy to check the details on the Dart for you, (enter name here)! While I check on that Dart for you are there any other models that you are interested in?

I was just wondering if this one was good for someone with kids.

The Dart is an excellent vehicle and also very spacious! Allow me to confirm all the details on the Dart for you. Once confirmed what would be the best email address to send those details to?

First Point of Contact

Most of the time the visitors that engage in Live Chat are new customers or visitors that have never spoken with anyone from your dealership. So let me ask you a question a simple question: Do you want your new customers to have their first live interaction with your dealership to be with with a robot like internet response team? Even if the experience is not so bad, it may be a “just ok” first time experience with “your” dealership staff. By enabling managed chat you are essentially handing the keys of your dealership floor to “lead hunters” who care more about generating leads than providing a great virtual showroom experience.

This may appear to “work” from the leads that the managed service providers send to you. However, what you must consider is how many of the leads they give you that end up purchasing a car would have given you their information anyway. Think about the 98% of other visitors that are instead spammed by your managed lead provider & the poor customer experiences of any visitor that clicks to chat.

SaleMove

At SaleMove we know that we have developed and will continue to develop the most robust live communication software the auto industry has ever seen. In building up our company, one easy choice we have made is to never offer managed chat. The reason is simple, we strive to provide our client’s and their customers the best experience possible.. and that is simply not achievable with managed chat. We believe that for a dealership the goal of a text chat is to assist the visitor and to upgrade the visitor to communicating using audio or video. The “lead’s contact information” will come naturally as our clients are building relationships with their online customers.
So Why Do Live Chat Providers Offer Managed Chat?

To start with simple live chat should never be used for high-ticket sales- more about this in our white paper “10 Reasons Live Chat is Not Enough for Sales”. But speaking only about the managed chat services lets take a look at a few reasons. Unlike physical showrooms, websites are always accessible so having someone to answer questions all day or when your staff is not in is definitely a benefit in theory. But in theory they should act just like sales representatives on your physical showroom floor. If a customer approaches them they respond with the answer to their question and then follow-up with more questions to start building that trusting relationship. The problem is internet sales agents outside of your organization are not and can never provide the same level of customer interaction as your sales representatives.

The Solution

If you would like to have a sales coverage in off hours, you should be assigning a knowledgeable sales representative to work those hours. When you provide an option to speak with someone “live” on your website, they should be there ready to talk and provide an equal or better experience than if that customer walked onto your showroom floor. If you do not have someone staffing your virtual showroom between the hours of 12am and 6am its ok! Think about it- is your dealership open in the middle of the night? Of course not. This is because you do not have staff that can provide the same high-touch interaction as you do during the day. It is ok for a visitor to leave you a message if they get to your website in the middle of the night. Managed chat is really just taking customers that would have came back or left you their information anyway (and providing a sub-par experience to boot). Think about all the reasons a customer clicks to chat- most of the reasons revolve around questions they have about a particular vehicle. Since your managed chat can not answer those questions and can not start building a trusting relationship with your customer then it has no business being there.

Think of your online Live Chat just as you think about your physical showroom. That means (link to other blog) don’t spam your visitors, and don’t let people who do not want to build a relationship with your visitors be the first person they speak with. Have live chat as an option, but only to further the relationship with your website visitors, not to just collect their information.

Director of Marketing

<p>Jeffrey Mack is the Director of Marketing at SaleMove.</p>