auto dealer chat tips

3 Live Chat Tips for Your Dealership’s In-House Team

Written By Carol Marshall

Investing in self-managed live chat can be a big, yet profitable step for your dealership. It saves you money and allows you to connect with your online shoppers in a way that builds trust and starts lasting relationships before they even reach your physical store. However, managing chat at the dealership can be quite a challenge. That’s why I’m sharing some quick live chat tips to help you get started.

Tip #1: Understand Your Customer’s Expectations

Having live chat is important -- not just because it’s expected -- but because your customers are benefiting (and so are you) from this opportunity to answer questions.

Your dealership’s reputation depends on your ability to understand your shoppers’ points of view and from there, provide a great consumer experience. But what exactly do your online visitors expect when they click to chat?


The truth is, many of your online shoppers don’t want to give you their contact information (those that are more willing usually call your dealership or fill out a contact form on your site). Live chat gives timid online shoppers the opportunity to get their questions answered FIRST, without the obligation to share personal information until they are ready.

Time-saving assistance

Most of your shoppers will use live chat to get answers to questions they couldn’t find on their own. It could be specs, availability, hours, etc. -- but they expect the person on the other end to have those answers…fast. If they wanted to wait, they would have filled out a form or called.

Personalized responses

There is nothing more annoying than starting a chat conversation and instantly noticing the rep is using an automated response. Your customers don’t want to chat with robots -- they want to have real conversations with real people, so they can start real relationships.

Live Chat Tip #2: Be Timely

Although this was technically in tip #1 (time-saving assistance), I’m going to elaborate on the importance of timeliness.

When your shoppers chat in, they do so to get their questions answered quickly and to continue their research. By making them wait, you are wasting their time and giving them an opportunity to go elsewhere. Don’t make them wait!!

According to ActivEngage research, if a shopper waits more than 10 seconds for a chat representative to start a conversation, the likeliness of them dropping the chat increases exponentially.

ActivEngage’s managed chat team picks up chats almost immediately, and our response time in a conversation is a maximum of 30 seconds. We convert 80% of our chats into leads, and have found that time is a BIG factor in our success.

We recommend that your dealership’s self-managed chat team uses these standards to create your own success as well. The faster you respond, the happier your online shoppers will be and the more sales you’ll get because of it.

Tip #3: Provide Customer-Centric Service

Dealers, your online shoppers expect excellent customer service when they use chat, regardless of what department the chat reps are in.

To get the most out of your live chat investment and protect your dealership’s reputation, you have to ensure the chats your staff has are quality conversations.

Here are a few customer service do’s and don’ts in a live chat conversation:


  • WRITE IN ALL CAPS (this is equivalent to YELLING!)
  • Use sarcasm (or humor that may be taken as such)
  • Be curt and unhelpful, while repeatedly asking for contact information
  • Forget to spellcheck


  • Introduce yourself first
  • Be friendly, conversational, and polite
  • Be knowledgeable in your responses
  • Review your responses before sending them

BONUS LIVE CHAT TIPS: The right software will play an important part in the success of your dealership’s live chat conversations.

Does your live chat platform have language translation capabilities that will allow your staff to chat with diverse customers? Does it have a response time-saving tool like PreRead that will allow you to see what customers are typing as they are typing it?

If you’re still considering a self-managed chat service, be sure to look for beneficial tools like these that will get your dealership the most out of chat!


Want more live chat tips? Download our free eBook, "7 Reasons Live Chat Fails".


Ready to discover how ActivEngage helps your dealership succeed?