A lot of dealerships are already using live chat on their websites, but is it as essential to your business as your CRM solution or the Keurig machine in the waiting area? Let’s talk about how live chat for car dealerships fits into the car buyer’s journey.

Today’s car buyers prefer live chat over other forms of communication.

Here’s the skinny on live chat.

  • Live chat is the most popular customer service channel, with 73% of users reporting a positive experience. Email, by comparison, created a positive experience for 60% of users; while phone support got a positive review from only 41% of users.
  • Consumers who prefer live chat like it because it gets their questions answered quickly (79% of users), the experience allows them to multitask (51% of users), and because they believe it is the most efficient communication method (46% of users).
  • Sixty-three percent of millennials prefer live chat to traditional customer service methods.

The takeaway here is that live chat is a popular tool that a majority of consumers – young consumers in particular – prefer.

Live chat aligns with changing car buyer expectations.

The internet never sleeps – Let’s pretend it’s two o’clock in the morning. You wake up suddenly and decide you need to: pay your electric bill, post a one-star Google review of a Vedic astrologer who didn’t know the difference between Rahu and Ketu, and buy a copy of the classic Balzac novel Cousin Pons. You could do it all on your cell phone in less than ten minutes.

Most people aren’t going to randomly buy a Range Rover at two o’clock in the morning, but the sheer efficiency and instant gratification that the internet offers have shifted consumer expectations.  Live chat gives you the means to be present when prospects hit the point in the car buyer’s journey when it’s time to engage.

Speaking of engagement, have you ever heard of micro-moments? Micro-moments are a concept that Google defines as:

“An intent-rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need – to know, go, do, or buy.”

Live chat allows your dealership to be in the moment.

With live chat, your dealership has the ability to be present for a car buyer’s micro-moments at the moment they occur. Let’s go back through our 2 a.m. scenario:

  • It’s 2 a.m. and your customer is in the preliminary stages of car research, not quite ready to buy. She has a vague interest in used hybrids and is poking around local dealer sites. She uses dealer chat to ask your website, “Do you guys ever get used hybrids at your dealership?”
  • It’s 2 a.m. and your customer just returned home from a business trip. He’s waiting for a Lyft to come pick him up, and thinks back on a car listing he came across while he was sitting around LAX. He uses a mobile online chat to ask your dealership, “I’m interested in a used SUV I saw on your website. Is it still available?”
  • It’s 2 a.m. Your customer woke up from a vivid dream that featured a car in your inventory, a car that he had test-driven earlier that day. He uses live chat to ask your dealership, “Hi, I just want to make sure that your dealership will be open at 9 a.m. tomorrow even though it’s Labor Day.”

Live chat for car dealerships is great because it satisfies changing car buyer expectations and it puts you in the position to capitalize on micro-moments in a way that a standard website cannot.

Live chat boosts your car dealer marketing and can increase sales.

Live chat also has direct value as a sales and branding tool. Let’s take a second look at the statistics ICMI cites (while they aren’t car dealership specific, they do give us some insights on the overall value of live chat). They say:

  • There is a 40% conversion rate for customers who use live chat (this conversion rate may or may not apply to dealerships, but it suggests that live chat is a step in the right direction if you want to make more sales).
  • There is a 20% annual improvement in customer contact abandonment rate, suggesting that live chat keeps consumers engaged with the brand or businesses they’re chatting with.
  • There is a 34% improvement in customer satisfaction rate. Part of being a modern dealership is navigating the world of customer reviews, and live chat can help you ensure that the experience your dealership offers is a positive one.

Live chat helps your dealership ensure car buyer visits are great.

A responsive online tool like live chat allows you to answer frequently asked questions before the customer shows up on the lot. This helps you:

  • Create a positive experience from the word “go” — If your dealership establishes itself as a helpful, friendly place on the first interaction, chances are good that a prospect will want to make you part of their car buyer’s journey. A new vehicle is probably the most significant purchases the average car buyer will make in a given year, and most buyers have more than one local dealership to choose from. Every little bit helps.
  •  Smooth out the buying process – When your customer has had her basic questions answered in advance, the rest of the dealer visit goes faster and more smoothly. This is good for the car buyer and equally good for your staff.

Get with the times with live chat for your dealership.

There are places where you can buy a car entirely online, especially now. The idea that this could become the norm might be terrifying to some dealers. But if you look at the trends – a wealth of online data on vehicle makes and models, virtual car tours, detailed customer reviews of local businesses – you’ll see that the average consumer may soon be buying cars in ways that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago.

We’re not saying that you have to negotiate every car sale online from here on out (our research indicates that customers still like visiting dealerships anyway). The point is that live chat keeps you in step with the modern car buyer’s journey, and prepares you for whatever the next five, 10, or 20 years has in store for your business.

Contact us to find out more about our complete automotive marketing solutions.