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Are These Excuses Keeping You From Test Chatting Live Chat Vendors?

“My dog ate my homework.”For anyone who went through the United States’ public school system since the 1970s, this should be a very familiar excuse. And it may very well be the same excuse some dealers use to avoid doing their homework of test chatting their prospective chat providers before they buy a chat solution.

dog_ate_my_homeworkAvoid these top 3 excuses and learn why test chatting your potential managed chat provider is crucial to your vendor review process. Read on!

1. The price is right

Would you neglect to test drive your future vehicle if the price was unusually low? Definitely not.

A low-priced vehicle can throw up some red flags like: Has this used car been in any previous accidents? Or, is this some kind of incognito lemon dressed up as a great deal?

You wouldn’t let your family ride in a vehicle you didn’t trust, no matter what the price.

And for the same reason, you shouldn’t let your shoppers experience a lower quality chat solution because it was the lowest cost option.

It’s just not worth the risk to bypass testing out a chat provider before you buy, just like every shopper should test drive a car to experience the vehicle and all its perks.

Your live chat team is often your online shopper’s first impression of your dealership, so test chatting can help you see first hand the quality of the conversations and how your shoppers will be treated.

Remember: The chat provider you choose to represent your dealership online will be the one to bridge the gap between your online shoppers and you…or maybe burn the bridge completely. When settling for a chat provider because of price, you’ll always get what you pay for!

2. ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that’

When quality chat conversations are had with your online shoppers, your dealership could see 80% of the conversations converted into sales opportunities for your store to follow up on. Or, you could end up with poor quality conversations, and your dealership’s reputation and customer service could tank.

Smart dealerships take 10 minutes out of their day to test chat prospective chat providers. Others, believe in the common misconception that ALL CHAT IS THE SAME. If all chat was the same, there wouldn’t be bad chat conversations like this oneand exemplary chat conversations like this one.

Every chat provider has a different approach to how they converse with your shoppers. Make the time to weed through the good, the bad and the ugly so you make an informed decision about who is speaking with your online shoppers and how your dealership is being represented.

3. Everyone uses this provider

Word of mouth is a great way to narrow down live chat providers. It helps speed up the research process, so that you don’t have to read as many online reviews and testimonials for every car dealer chat provider (and oh my are there a lot!).

However, choosing the live chat service a dealership in your 20 group is using is not going to guarantee you the best live chat service. Maybe the deciding factor for another dealership was different from yours, like the provider’s software capabilities or contract options. Maybe that dealership didn’t test chat either!

Nothing will be as effective as test chatting different providers yourself and doing your own research to understand which chat service is right for your store. If your number one priority is your shoppers’ experience with your store (and it should be), you will want to make sure even the most talked about chat providers are living up to the hype.

Note for those who already have live chat:

You should have access to all chat conversation transcripts and leads in order to hold your live chat provider accountable for the conversations they have and the results they provide to your store. Be sure you or someone at your store is receiving AND reading every chat conversation being had on your website.

Chat customer service phrases to avoid

4 Phrases Your Online Shoppers DON’T Want to Hear

Have you ever sat down at a restaurant, decided what you wanted to eat, and then as soon as the waiter comes by to take your order he tells you that the restaurant ran out of the main ingredient in your favorite dish on the menu?

Strike one. You expected them to have the food they advertise.

You’re not happy, but you decide there are other things you might be hungry for, so you look again and find something that you can tolerate. Meanwhile, you’ve ordered drinks. However, the drinks are taking a very long time to get to your table. You see the waiter near the adjacent tables and someone who came in after you already has their food. Strike two – you don’t feel like a priority.

You try to flag down the waiter, but now you’ve waited way too long, and you’re hungry, and pissed off, so you tell your server that you’d like to leave. It’s strike three – your patience is gone from waiting too long, and you’re out of there.

Setting the right customer expectations

Just like the experience at a restaurant, online shoppers have expectations when they arrive at your Digital Showroom and use your live chat service.

When car shoppers use your live chat service, they expect:

  • 481429387To speak with an intelligent human (not a robot).

  • To get their questions answered and answered quickly.

  • The conversation to be fluid and to end when they want it to end.

  • To be able to remain anonymous until they are ready to purchase a vehicle, service, or part.

With all of these expectations, it’s important to make sure that your chat receptionist or dealership representative doesn’t say anything that could harm the relationship they are trying to build, create a sense of distrust in the shopper, or go against any of the expectations listed above.

The following phrases are examples taken from real chat conversations, and it would be unwise for your dealership’s chat team to use them. I have provided some alternative phrases to use instead!

Live chat customer service no-nos

“I don’t know.”

Shoppers want to know they are speaking to an intelligent human being capable of actually answering their questions. You never want to confess that you don’t know something.

Instead, if you need time to answer a question, you should reply with something like, “Give me one minute to look that information up for you” with a guaranteed return of information. OR – if the answer isn’t something you can quickly look up, you should tell a shopper that you have to do some research on that information for them and you can get back to them shortly with the details.

However, you should always make an honest effort to answer any questions you can. Even responding to part of a question in real-time is better than not answering anything at all. The information you give during a chat builds trust, and it’s important to understand that even a partial answer can go a long way in gaining that trust.

“Sorry, that’s not my department.”

You need to keep in mind that people who chat on your website aren’t going to segment their questions – they are going to ask about EVERY department.

If you are considering having BDC reps answer your chats, you need to make sure the group that you hire is trained to respond to questions for any department. Alternatively, you can segment your team, and have some representatives handle sales related chats, while others handle Fixed Ops and Customer Service.

However, if you do decide to segment your chat representatives, there are two important things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your live chat software allows you to transfer chats between multiple departments/agents.

  • Remember that shoppers are impatient, and transferring conversations can add time to the chat and delay shoppers’ answers. If you are transferring chats, make sure the representative receiving the chat is ready to respond promptly.

Also, if you are hiring a managed chat service to chat on behalf of your dealership, don’t forget to ask how they handle chats for multiple departments! Remember: every car dealer chat provider is different.

“Your message could not be delivered.”

Believe it or not, there are live chat services out there right now that break down because the chats are being transferred to an outsourced call center. And while they are breaking down, they are providing this “Your message could not be delivered” phrase for your shoppers to scoff at with disdain.

Here’s an example from a REAL chat conversation:

You: I was wondering if you had another one…with RWD.

System: The message “I was wondering if you had another one…with RWD.” could not be delivered.

System: The message “I was wondering if you had another one…with RWD.” could not be delivered.

System: The message “I was wondering if you had another one…with RWD.” could not be delivered.

System: The message “I was wondering if you had another one…with RWD.” could not be delivered. We are attempting to deliver it again

You: ?

System: The message “?” could not be delivered.

System: The message “?” could not be delivered.

Customer Service: Are you still available to chat?

System: The message “?” could not be delivered.

System: The message “?” could not be delivered. We are attempting to deliver it again

You: Do you have another with RWD?

Customer Service: I’m sorry, I’m in the internet chat department and don’t have immediate access to the central office, but I can have someone contact you back on this if you wish?

You: I thought I was still chatting.

You: What’s the point of this then?

System: The message “What’s the point of this then?” could not be delivered.

System: The message “What’s the point of this then?” could not be delivered.

System: The message “What’s the point of this then?” could not be delivered.

System: The message “What’s the point of this then?” could not be delivered. We are attempting to deliver it again

Customer Service: Would you like me to have someone contact you back on this? It’s your call either way.

You: Um……bye.

System: The message “Um……bye.” could not be delivered.

System: The message “Um……bye.” could not be delivered.

System: The message “Um……bye.” could not be delivered.

System: The message “Um……bye.” could not be delivered. We are attempting to deliver it again

Unbelievable, isn’t it? Dealers, if your shoppers are receiving this error message, your chat provider needs to address this problem ASAP!

If your customer is experiencing a broken chat system first hand, they aren’t going to expect much from your in-store experience.

“While we contact a representative, please provide us with your email address so that we can send you a transcript of this chat session.”

Shoppers chat because they can remain anonymous until they are comfortable enough with their decision to move forward with a purchase. Once they have their questions answered, they are more willing to provide contact information and start a long-lasting relationship with your dealership.

Therefore, asking for contact information before a shopper has received answers to their questions doesn’t make sense. Why would a potential customer want a transcript sent to them when they don’t even know what the transcript will contain?

You need to think of your live chat service as a customer service tool, not just a lead generation tool. Make the highest priority of chat to answer questions and get your shoppers the information they need to make a decision.

DO NOT request contact information until a shopper has had some of their questions answered and is ready to receive more information or to set up a test drive appointment.

Changes in Retail Result in 316% Growth for ActivEngage

August 20, 2014 (Orlando, FL)  — ActivEngage, Inc., the most trusted brand in live chat, continues to have exceptional growth, ranking #1363 on Inc. Magazine’s eighth annual Inc. 500|5000, an exclusive list of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation.

The list represents a comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy—America’s independent entrepreneurs. This year’s list of companies had an average growth of over 516 percent and collectively helped create over 46,000 American jobs.

“We are honored to be ranked among some of the most innovative companies in the nation for the third year in a row,” says Todd Smith, CEO and co-founder of ActivEngage. “Our continued growth is a result of two distinct evolutions taking place in retail. One, consumers now desire to use live chat as a shopping tool to help them make decisions before purchasing. And two, businesses are more careful to select a chat provider that has quality conversations with their online shoppers, provides innovative chat technology, and ultimately increases their bottom line.

This is the third consecutive year that ActivEngage has ranked on Inc. Magazine’s prestigious list of fastest-growing private companies. The company was recently voted the technology leader for live chat and ranked #53 on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 list of fastest growing tech companies.


The Unfortunate Story of Neggy Lected, an Online Car Shopper

Once upon a time, in the Land of Aluminum, Steel, and Rubber, there lived a team of Salespeople working at R-U-SERIOUS Dealer. These Salespeople, it is believed, had a rare gift for multitasking. Every day, they would tackle many different tasks – from taking and making phone calls, emailing prospects, making walk-around videos, attending to customers on the lot, and the list went on and on. Then one day, the Head Honcho said, “We’re going to start chatting with online car shoppers.” To which the Salespeople replied, “Sure! No problem!”

And so it was done.

The Salespeople were provided login information and soon enough, they were up and running. When the first chat came in, Bill the Sales Guy jumped at the opportunity and started the chat.

An Online Car Shopper Ignored

The shopper, Neggy Lected, wanted to know about the dimensions of a particular vehicle of interest because he was as tall as a Gulliver felt while visiting the Lilliputians in Gulliver’s Travels.

While Bill was looking up those dimensions for Neggy, another shopper stepped into the showroom. It was at this moment that Bill faced an internal dilemma, “Do I ignore Neggy, and talk to this shopper who is already at my store? Or do I finish my conversation with Neggy, and make the shopper in my store wait?”

Bill weighed his decision and decided to make Neggy wait a few minutes. As far as he was concerned, his most important priority was the shopper who was already in his store. Once the shopper was gone from the store, he would get back to Neggy about the dimensions of the vehicle.

However, one minor detail that Bill failed to realize was that Neggy was impatient. He wasn’t going to wait around all day, sipping lemonade, checking Facebook, and waiting for Bill to reply. That just wasn’t his style. He had stuff to do. A life to live. A car to find.

So after a minute or two of feeling disgruntled by silence, and when his responses weren’t receiving any reply from Bill, Neggy closed the chat.

After this initial experience that Neggy had at R-U-SERIOUS Dealer – “You have the audacity to ignore me?!” – Neggy decided it would be best to take his business to another local dealership’s website instead.

The Dealership’s A-Ha Moment

What the Salespeople of R-U-Serious Dealer quickly figured out was that their multitasking responsibilities were too much to handle with live chat. A Salesperson shouldn’t have to focus on everything, they should be focusing on selling cars.

In order to make their team more effective, they made the decision to hire a few reps specifically for generating new leads. This way, the roles in the organization could be more specialized, and their store was able to accomplish all of its tasks efficiently.

The Salespeople focused on selling cars on the lot and the new business development reps focused on online lead generation and setting up appointments.

After this shift in the organization of their sales team, no other online car shoppers on R-U-Serious Dealer’s website ever had to suffer the fate of Neggy Lected.

Their sales went through the roof, and everyone lived happily ever after.

Moral of the Story:

If you want to be successful with live chat, your dealership needs a dedicated team answering the chats and generating leads. It is scientifically proven that no human being can successfully multitask – we just shift around priorities.

To ensure your dealership provides a unique consumer experience, segment your sales team and let them specialize. Salesforce segmented its sales team and added $1 billion to its top line revenue! Read more about sales segmentation in Predictable Revenue by former Director of Corporate Sales, Aaron Ross.

If your team is unable to successfully handle chat in-house, then your next step is to look into a managed chat service.

Top tips for Dealership Reviews

A Tactful Approach to Your Dealership’s Online Reviews

How can your dealership keep customers happy? By knowing what they like and dislike about your services – and improving on it. Feedback is one of the most valuable customer service tools available to dealers, and customers are usually more than willing to give dealership reviews for free. But reviews, especially online ones, should be handled with care because they can go wrong FAST.

Tips for Managing Dealership Reviews Online

So how can your dealership best handle customer reviews – even the negative ones?


When it comes to angry customers, time is never on your side. The more you wait, the angrier they get. Negative reviewers want to be acknowledged, so immediately reaching out to them is vital.

Also, remember that you have a silent online audience, who doesn’t interact with your content, but is looking through it. These prospects are looking for a trustworthy dealership to buy from. Negative reviews that go unaddressed may ruin their perception of you.

Don’t ignore your satisfied customers either. That customer who went on DealerRater to give you five stars will most likely be a spokesperson for you whenever someone in the area asks for recommendations on a good dealership. Plus it’s an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with that customer. Let them know you’re glad they chose your dealership, and invite them to get their oil changed with you!

A prime example of follow-up done right is Volkswagen of Puyallup. They do an excellent job of always responding to customer reviews on their Yelp page.

TIP: If it’s difficult to keep up with dealership reviews, set up Google Alerts for your dealership and some industry keywords, or invest in a comprehensive social media monitoring tool like this one by Hubspot. Also, try taking 10-15 minutes a day to monitor major review websites (Yelp, Google+, Dealer Rater) – and don’t forget Facebook and Twitter!


You may have heard about a certain hotel’s review policy, and how it went viral for all the wrong reasons. Not only did their policy state that they’d charge customers $500 for every negative review, but they waited days before denying it (when there was online evidence to prove otherwise). Non-customers of this hotel had a field day with the situation via new online reviews.

With all the information available on the Internet at the click of a button, tactless online responses will only magnify negative attention. If someone is unhappy with their vehicle or service at your dealership, don’t get defensive – and don’t lie.

Instead, extend an explicit apology. Then use that opportunity to flip the script and highlight your dealerships attributes (how long you’ve been in business and the kind of customer service you strive for). This will show readers you value your dealership’s reputation. Then offer to give them proactive solutions by directing them to the appropriate point of contact to address their issues (name, phone number, email address) or invite them to live chat with you.

For inspiration on how to tactfully respond to online dealership reviews, check out Parks Chevrolet at the Lake’s Facebook reviews – they always prompt customers to contact them if they were rated anything below five stars!

TIP: Always evaluate your responses a few times before you post. Pay attention to grammar, cohesiveness, and most importantly, tone.


Shoppers will know the difference between personalized responses and scripted ones. You don’t want customers thinking you don’t care enough to put thought into your answer to their comment when they did so for you.

Simple things, like a helpful tip on new-car care, if they just purchased a vehicle, can personalize a review response. Some dealerships go as far as finding out details about the shopper’s experience (if they traded in a beloved car or went with all-leather interiors on the new one) and including fun details about it in their response.

Schumacher Chevrolet does a great job at responding to all their dealership reviews, while also making them personable. Take a look at their Dealer Rater review page for some great examples.

TIP: If a customer mentions the employee who helped them, have the employee write a short thank you. This will add a personal touch to the message and show customers that ALL of your team is involved in your dealership’s success.


According to a 2014 study, 88% of customers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business.

When a customer is happy with their shopping experience, invite them to review you! Give them links to your review pages and let them know you take customers’ opinions seriously. But don’t be pushy, sometimes just letting customers (especially millennials) know of your online presence will be enough to prompt them to review you.

Also, if you’re pushing for customer reviews, don’t specify that you want positive reviews only. Instead, welcome all kinds of feedback. Remember you can use negative reviews to improve and get those unimpressed customers back!

TIP: Make it easier for your shoppers to post reviews about you. Have a “Review Us” button on your site, or include a link to your dealership’s page on a review site within a follow-up email. You can even set up an in-store review station at the dealership with an iPad.


Having customer reviews on your website will help generate more business by increasing your dealership’s credibility and building its reputation. In giving online shoppers access to your dealership reviews, you’re allowing them to assess your qualities based on what real customers say about you.

Also, give shoppers access to other review pages like Yelp and Google+, and your social media pages. These sites are more reliable since your dealership has little-to-no control over the content that customers post.

TIP: Instead of using social media buttons on your dealership’s website, use a toolbar like ActivConnect. This allows shoppers to see your review pages and social media pages without ever leaving your site!


Lessons in Live Chat from The Karate Kid

Dealers, your online customers want to communicate with you in real-time. Having live chat services is the best way to connect with them, build your reputation, and get more leads all at once! But in order to do this, you need to be one with live chat (or at least let go of some preconceived ideas).

Today’s post is about helping you brush up on some live chat knowledge so that your can perfect your internal processes and thus see better results from chat. And I’ll do it with a little help from The Karate Kid’s, Mr. Miyagi.

Let go of antiquated ideas

Miyagi: To make honey, young bee need young flower, not old prune.


Some dealerships have yet to implement live chat on their websites because they don’t see the value in investing in bells and whistles. What they fail to see is that the Internet is making live chat less of a commodity and more of a necessity.

The modern shopper is driven by research, impatience, and the need for instant gratification. If you’re not available to answer their questions about a vehicle or service specials in real-time at your online showroom AKA your website, what do you think will happen? Odds are they might not be calling your dealership or stopping by for an answer – they’ll move on to the next car dealer’s site.

Commit to it

Miyagi: Either you karate do YES or karate do NO. You karate do “guess so”, [makes squishing gesture] just like grape. Understand?

In this conversation with Daniel, Mr. Miyagi wants him to understand that if he decides to do Karate, he has to see it through. Similarly, choosing to implement live chat services on your dealership’s website will not automatically sell you more cars. In order to reap the benefits of chat, you need to commit to your online shoppers.

When your online customers click to chat, they expect to be acknowledged in about 5 seconds or less by friendly, knowledgeable associates. If you have chat on your website but never pick up a chat or interact with customers as though they’re wasting your time, it could be detrimental to your dealership’s reputation.

When you chat with your online shoppers, treat them as though they are the same shoppers walking into your lot – because they very well could be.

Learn the ropes

Miyagi: First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule, Daniel-san, not mine. 

When Daniel wanted to learn the crane-kick technique from Mr. Miyagi, that was his response. Always the wise man, Mr. Miyagi knew that learning to crawl before you walk (though not exactly his words) would produce the best results.

It’s the same with live chat – your team should be trained in all the do’s and don’ts of chatting with your png;base64aaa7726a92aeea71customers before they pick up any chat conversation! For example, your team should know:

  • to pick up a chat in 6 seconds or less

  • when to use emoticons in live chat conversations

  • how long a customer will wait for your response before leaving a chat

  • what to say to a difficult customer

Training is a key element in providing great customer service to shoppers, whether they’re on your lot, or on your website. Does your live chat provider have any chat training available to your team? If not, then they should. Having a quality live chat conversation can be the difference between getting a lead, or giving it away to the competition.

Balance is everything

Miyagi: Better learn balance. Balance is key. Balance good, karate good. Everythinggood. Balance bad, better pack up, go home. Understand?


describe the imageMr. Miyagi knows that too much of anything is never a good thing. That’s why he wants Daniel-san to focus on his balance. Think of your live chat conversations in that same manner.

The main purpose of using live chat for your dealership is to sell more cars. However, if your team’s only focus is to get more leads and set appointments, you risk off-putting your customers. When a chatter lets you know that they’re looking for a used car for their 17 year-old daughter who has a 4.0 average, don’t ignore it.

Finding the perfect balance between the salesperson and the “Average Joe” customers can relate to will help you build a more solid relationship with your customers. And although it might not immediately get you the sale, your shoppers will remember you come decision-time.

Put Quality First

Miyagi: You trust the quality of what you know, not quantity.

When Daniel realized he didn’t know much about Karate, Mr. Miyagi agreed with him. In this scene Mr. Miyagi is trying to stress the importance of doing something well. The quality of your work will always affect your results.

Having a quality conversation with your online chatters will always be the best way to get a QUALITY lead – I’m talking full name, phone number, email address, and even a set appointment. But, how do you measure the quality of the conversations your team is having on your behalf?

By looking at your lead conversion rate. Having an approximate 80% conversionmeans you’re engaging your customers enough that they are ready to move to the next step with your dealership.

And if you’ve chosen to have a managed chat provider do it for you, make sure you hold them up to the same standards. Choosing to let the chat experts get you those leads will free you up to do what you do best: sell cars!

DISCLAIMER: Not all chat is created equal. If your chat provider outsources their manpower to “work-from-home” and offshore employees, ask to see what kind of training they’re given.

The level of expertise your chat team has will make all the difference in the quality of your leads and the reputation of your dealership – so choose wisely!