5 Tips for Car Dealerships Starting Out With Live Chat

5 Tips for Car Dealerships Starting Out With Live Chat

Working in a car dealership, you know that it takes special conversational and people skills to earn customer trust. Customers don’t want to be seen as another sale; they are people (just like you) that have vehicle needs for different reasons in each of their unique lives. 

Given the nature of technology and communication options in commerce today, many consumers are shopping digitally/on the go because of their busy schedules. As a result, many are utilizing live chat (or messaging, as we like to call it). While it is important to try and “catch” everyone you can’t feasibly get to, it’s important that your engagement solutions still have a dynamic, reactive, and human element to them. 

If you’re a car dealership new to the concept of messaging, it can seem like a lot to take in. Truthfully, it is! There can be a lot of moving parts, but once you have a solid system in place, you’ll wonder how you ever got on without messaging! 

Live Chat Elevates Your Dealership’s Customer Experience 

Like any new product or partnership, you’ll want to do extensive research to ensure you’re getting a strong ally that will enhance your customer experience; not detract or subtract from it. And when it comes to outfitting your digital space with communication channels, you want to make sure that the customer experience is consistent with your great in-store customer experience. 

As the first fully live automotive chat platform on the scene in 2007, we’ve seen what conversations mean to your car shopping customers and have the most experience to boot when it comes to providing a fully-human customer experience. 

Here are 5 tips to keep in mind when you’re setting off on your dealership’s automotive live chat journey. 

5 Tips For Starting With an Automotive Live Chat Platform

1. Look for a partner with managed and self-managed options.

If you have an in-house BDC or internet sales department, taking on the conversations and incoming chat inquiries is tempting. No one knows your dealership better than you, right? While that is mostly true, live chat and car dealership text messaging are some things that require very specific training to get right.

That might seem dramatic, but it’s true! Just because you have a team or the time doesn’t mean you’ll get the most out of consumer engagements. If you decide to manage the chats in-house, your team or rep needs to be fully prepared. They should be able to answer requests in 30 seconds or less, handle multiple conversations at once, and clearly understand best practices that guide the shopper down the sales funnel.

Depending on the amount of traffic to your website, these requests can be very demanding, which sometimes leads to poor customer service if not made a priority. That’s why it’s always best to choose a provider that offers fully managed or co-managed packages.

This way, if your store gets an influx of requests or you suddenly lack coverage, you know you have a well-trained team that can take over without missing a beat. And with this type of service, your customers never miss out on an excellent experience. 

2. Train your team regularly if you decide to handle things in-house. 

As mentioned earlier, training your people on how to talk to customers properly is important. Consumers have very specific expectations that need to be met and, perhaps more importantly, just want to be listened to! If you go the self-managed messaging route and just opt for buying the dealer text software, you’ll want to keep your team sharp to deliver the best possible communication to your curious website-browsing customers. 

While you would of course have an initial training period, we recommend continuous and remedial training as time goes on. The nature of conversations can change as the economy changes, and there can be changes specific to your OEM and vehicle production to keep in mind when taking chats about your inventory. 

3. Review for features and integrations that make the most sense for your dealership.

When you get settled in with a new live chat/automotive messaging provider, make sure you request a rundown of features to go over. Does the platform have great quality of life features that would make your in-house team’s life easier? Do they have flexible integrations that are the best for your CRM situation should you choose a managed option? These are all worth asking about to ensure you’re getting the effectiveness and convenience you are paying for.

Sometimes, our current dealer partners ask for features/accommodations that we already provide! Our Customer Care Team makes sure to to assess your needs so we can make you aware of any quality-of-life features that fit your dealership situation best and get you on the right track to getting the most out of your new auto dealer text messaging or dealer text software. 

4. Test chat before you commit to a provider.

Just as your customers test drive a car, so should you test out a managed messaging provider. It’s here that you’ll get a complete picture on how they approach customer conversations. Do they have a dynamic, human conversational style? Or, are they a glorified message-taking system with stilted responses that are clearly a chatbot or A.I? 

This is an important step, because some providers claim to have quality conversations; but any meaningful questions given to them will quickly reveal that they aren’t equipped to deliver substantial, trust-building, action-inspiring conversations that push your customers further down funnel. 

5. Keep tabs on your reporting and always review for quality.

A good automotive live chat platform and provider starts with authentic conversation and trust-building, but it also needs to produce results. For this reason, consistent reporting and analysis of this reporting should be a priority to ensure you are getting the most ROI out of your partnership. 

Inquire to see that you are getting rich reporting that gives insight that can help you see what’s working and what isn’t (if you choose to go self-managed). For example, you can gain valuable insight about what vehicles your customers are most interested in by noting the frequency in which customers chat in regarding said vehicles. 

You can stay ahead of the curve for quality by reviewing what works and what doesn’t, and continue to analyze conversations to see what best suits your customer base.

Start your Automotive Live Chat Journey with ActivEngage

Consider starting an automotive live chat approach with ActivEngage! In addition to the deepest integrations with various automotive digital retailing tools, we also offer a varied suite of customer engagement solutions:

  • Managed Messaging, our award-winning, engaging conversation platform. 
  • MyDrive, video test drives that lead customers further down the sales funnel.
  • ActivTarget, highly tailored behavioral incentives; the pop-up perfected! 


Ready to start out with a trusted automotive live chat platform?

Let’s talk!