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get quality internet leads using emotional intelligence

Why Your Dealership’s Live Chat Team Needs Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to absorb emotional cues and use it to guide behavior. It’s essentially the combination of personal and social competence, and it affects how well we interact with others.

When it comes to digital messaging (live chat, SMS, Messenger, etc.) in the age of customer experience, emotional intelligence (EI) can mean the difference between losing a customer for life and getting a quality internet lead that closes.

But what exactly is EI? Can your BDC or messaging team learn it? And, why is it so important? Let’s dive in and discuss.

How does EI impact quality internet leads?

Your dealership’s website is your digital showroom. Customers expect the SAME quality service via chat, text, and Messenger that they would receive when walking your lot.

What a chat representative says in a conversation with your shoppers will always be a reflection of your dealership. An emotionally intelligent chat rep will ensure your shoppers have a positive consumer experience—resulting in more quality internet leads, more sales, and a positive reputation for your store.

So, what exactly makes an emotionally-intelligent chat team? And how do you know whether your chat provider trains them to have a high emotional IQ?

Traits of emotionally-intelligent chatters

Self-awareness & Self-management

When shoppers message your dealership, they’re expecting the representative to answer their questions. They DO NOT want to hear “I don’t know” or “that’s not my department.”

Self-aware online reps are confident in their conversational skills as well as their knowledge of your inventory. If you manage a team in-house, your staff should use language that reflects confidence, friendliness, and professionalism. If you outsource, your vendor should provide ongoing training to ensure chat reps give the kind of customer service that reflects your business and will get your dealership more sales.

Regarding self-management, an emotionally-intelligent online rep will be adaptable when having conversations with different types of shoppers. Some shoppers are more transactional and simply want the answers to their questions. Other shoppers want to share that they need to upgrade from a sedan to a minivan because their family is growing. The rep should be able to effortlessly cater to both.

TEST IT: Investigate whether or not your provider is ensuring they have the best chat reps for your dealership. Don’t be afraid to ask your chat provider:

  • What qualities or backgrounds they look for when hiring their chat representatives. Do they look for adaptability, creativity, or experience in customer service?
  • Do they provide any training to their chat reps? What kind of information do they collect from your dealership to help the chat team best understand who they are representing?

Also, don’t forget to look at your live chat transcripts. Does the chat rep sound knowledgeable about your dealership? If in your transcripts the chat rep included details like service hours, vehicle specs, and even your dealership’s “why buy” statement, odds are you’re getting a quality internet lead.

Social Awareness

Social awareness allows chat representatives to understand and respond accordingly to the emotions of the shoppers clicking to chat. By understanding your online customers, your live chat agents should then be able to relate to and engage with them.

If your chat reps respond to every shopper with scripts, they’re going to frustrate potential customers looking for a unique, human experience.

The key is relating to your shoppers, something a scripted conversation CANNOT DO—which is why personalization is so important. If you want quality internet leads, avoid canned responses.

TEST IT: Look for awkward conversations being had on your site. For example, if chat representatives are responding to shoppers that say “I just totaled by car and need a new one” with remarks like “Great!” or “Perfect!”, you need a new chat team.

automotive infographics

3 Automotive Infographics You Need to See

In the Age of Information Overload, infographics are here to help us “boil it all down.” They’re visually appealing and can be an excellent way to get information quickly! If you don’t have time to read a bunch of text, these automotive infographics get right to the point.

In order to help you stay up-to-date on consumer trends efficiently, ActivEngage did the dirty work. Below are 3 automotive infographics to help you understand car buyer behavior and much more. Check ‘em out!

Awesome Automotive Infographics for Car Dealers

US Auto Shoppers: Path to Purchase

This infographic by InMobi offers some great insights on mobile auto shoppers! For example, 85% of auto consumers turn to mobile for more information after seeing ads for vehicles on other media channels.

A Car Shopper’s Journey

According to this Google Think Insights infographic, the Internet is almost three times more influential than friends and family during the research process for a vehicle.

The Multiple Pathways of Shopper Traffic and Automotive Lead Acquisition

Your Friends at ActivEngage put this infographic together! Check it out to understand the different ways shoppers get to your website how you can get more leads. It’s a good reference for helping you put your marketing plan in perspective.

Live chat follow-up is crucial to dealership success

What’s Your Chat Follow-Up Process?

Live chat success does not happen on its own. Success happens when your dealership flawlessly incorporates live chat into its daily processes. And one of those daily processes is live chat follow-up.

As soon as a chat lead hits your CRM, you need to have a team promptly following up with that shopper. You can have the most amazing conversations in the world, however, if your staff is not properly following up with your online shoppers, it won’t matter if you had a good or a bad chat – the result will be the same – you won’t see the sales.

Therefore, the moment you sign up for live chat, you need to have a plan for effective chat lead follow-up.

Questions You Need to Ask to Plan a Successful Chat Follow-Up System at Your Dealership:

  • Who is going to be following up on the leads?

  • Are you going to use round robin or some other form of fair lead distribution among your staff?

  • How many employees do you need to follow up on all chat leads promptly?

  • Does your staff understand how to use your CRM to access the chat leads?

  • Where will the chat transcripts be stored for your team to review?

  • How quickly should your team be following up on chat leads?

After you have answered these above questions, then you need to train your employees on how to follow up with a chat lead correctly.

“How Do I Successfully Follow Up on a Chat Lead?”

The two most common forms of contact used to follow up on a chat lead are phone and email.

When following up on a chat lead via email, there are few steps you need to follow:

Chat Follow-Up Email Checklist:

163073209Step 1: Read the chat transcript thoroughly.

Step 2: Gather the details the shopper was looking for and include them in your email response – (vehicle availability, price, vehicle specs, leasing offer details, service package information, etc.).

You must answer the shopper’s questions in your follow-up email. By doing so, you will begin to build a relationship with your customers and earn their trust.

Step 3: Make sure to attach any photos or coupons requested.



The shopper who received the follow-up email pictured above had specifically said during their chat conversation that they preferred to use email to communicate (see step 1 – read the chat transcript, FIRST).

They also asked for photos of the Escalade, because there were only stock photos shown on the website. This email adds no value to the relationship with the shopper because it does not provide him with the information they requested during a chat. Not to mention the spelling mistakes – yikes!

You can place your phone number in your email signature, but other than that, do not press the shopper to call you. Sometimes, people prefer contact via email and ONLY email (they may be at work!). Any additional pressure to call you will only make them less interested in buying from you.

Step 4: Reply quickly.

There is a slightly different variation for following up when you are replying to a chat via phone.

Chat Follow-Up Phone Call Checklist:

466171617Step 1: Read the chat transcript thoroughly.

Step 2: Gather the details the shopper was looking for and make sure to mention them during your call – (vehicle availability, price, vehicle specs, leasing offer details, service package information, etc.).

Step 3: Call promptly.

Step 4: If the shopper picks up, provide them with the answers they requested in the chat. You’ll also want to prompt them for any additional information that might be important to understand their needs fully.

Step 5: If the shopper doesn’t pick up, leave a message with the details and a call back number.

Once you’re sure you have fully answered all of the shopper’s questions via phone or email, your next objective is to go for the ask. Ask your potential customer to come by for a test drive, set up a service appointment for them, or ask them if they would like to go ahead and order the part for their vehicle repair.

You want to lead them to the next course of action in the buying process. If your shoppers are ready, they’ll take the next step and come into your store.

Tips for Evaluating Your Live Chat Provider

How to Evaluate Your Live Chat Provider

You signed up with a live chat provider because you believed it would be beneficial to your dealership’s business. So how often do you check to ensure they are delivering the results you were told to expect from the beginning? We recommend that you evaluate your live chat provider or your internal chat team every month. Below, are relevant benchmarks you should be consistently measuring so that you can accurately assess your current live chat results.

How to Evaluate Your Live Chat Provider

First, let’s refresh your memory on a few factors you should be keeping track of:

Pick-Up Time: the amount of time it takes to begin a chat conversation – from the moment a shopper clicks to chat to the time when the chat representative sends the first greeting.

Response Time: the amount of time it takes to respond to a shopper’s question/statement during the chat.

Test Drive Appointments: the number of appointments set during a chat for a customer to visit your dealership to test drive a vehicle.

Lead Conversion: the number of conversations that turn into leads with a name, email address, AND phone number.

Chat Conversion: the average number of unique visitors per month that request to chat with your team.

Live Chat Benchmarks

Pick-Up Time: Your team should be answering chats in 6 seconds or less because consumers do not want to wait. They are impatient. Chat should be an INSTANTANEOUS way for shoppers to get their questions answered.

Response Time: 30 seconds or less is the amount of time your team has to respond to a shopper during the chat. Whether or not the shopper asked a question, your reps should be continuing the conversation to move the shopper further down the sales funnel. Again, car buyers are impatient so don’t make them wait…ever!

Test Drive Appointments: On Average, your team should be setting appointments with 20% of the consumers they engage. They should always ask for your shoppers to schedule a visit to the dealership just like you expect them to set an appointment on a phone call.

Lead Conversion: 80% of chats should convert into a lead. If your team continues to miss this benchmark, then take a good look at the quality of the conversations in the transcripts. This benchmark is the best indicator of the type of customer service your online shoppers are receiving.

Chat Conversion: 1-2% of unique visitors should be clicking to chat. This benchmark is solely based on the graphics used on the website. If they aren’t grabbing attention, switch them up. Also, your provider should be able to A/B test graphics and suggest the most effective graphic to use on YOUR website.

How Live Chat Impacts Customer Satisfaction

There’s one thing you cannot measure, but it plays a significant role in how you should evaluate your live chat provider: Customer satisfaction. Do the shoppers who use your live chat service say they are happy with the experience they received? Do they give you comments about how helpful the service is? Customer satisfaction will either lead to an increase in the other factors mentioned above, or the factors above will impact your customer satisfaction.

Ways live chat increases customer satisfaction:

  • Timely responses

  • Personalized conversation (No scripts! No robots!)

  • Answering questions/being helpful

  • Correct spelling and punctuation

  • Ability to respond to inquiries about your dealership (hours, management, services available, etc.)

  • Directing shoppers to the pages they are looking for on your website

  • Offering vehicle suggestions based on the shopper’s interests or needs

  • Informing customers about vehicle and service specials