5 Tips for Car Dealerships Starting Out With Live Chat

5 Tips for Starting Out with Car Dealer Live Chat

Written By AE Staff

Working in a dealership and automotive industry, you know that it takes special conversational and people skills to earn customer trust. Customers and potential buyers don’t want to be seen as just 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 looking to purchase online because of their busy schedules. As a result, many are implementing 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 live chat still has a dynamic, reactive, and human element to it that has customer satisfaction and brand loyalty as a goal. 

While the current car shopping customer journey doesn't include overwhelming support for a fully online purchase, it's important to always keep some sort of digital channel (like live chat) open in the process and give potential car buyers a choice in the matter.

In fact, according to a 2021 study by Cox Automotive: "64% of shoppers want more of the purchase process to happen online, compared to the last time they bought a vehicle." That is quite the supermajority of customers who would like to see a shift to more online car sales!

If you’re a car dealership new to the concept of live chat, 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 live chat system in place, you’ll wonder how you ever got on without messaging! 

Live Chat Elevates Your Car Dealership Customer Experience 

Like any new product or partnership, you’ll want to do extensive research to ensure you’re getting a strong live chat ally that will enhance your customer experience; not detract or subtract from it.

And when it comes to outfitting your digital space with live chat communication channels, you want to make sure that the customer experience is consistent with your great in-store customer experience. 

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

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

5 Tips For Car Dealerships Starting to Use Live Chat Support

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

If you have an in-house BDC or internet sales department, taking on the conversations and incoming live chat inquiries is tempting. No one knows your dealership better than you, right? While that is mostly true, car dealership live chat is something that requires 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, or quality car sale leads. If you decide to manage the chats in-house, your team or rep needs to be fully prepared. They should be able to answer questions with a response time of 30 seconds or less, handle multiple conversations at once, and clearly understand best practices that guide the shopper down the sales funnel and ensure customer satisfaction.

Depending on the amount of traffic to your website, requests from car buyers can be very demanding, which sometimes leads to poor customer service if not made a priority. The team taking the live chat portion of your inbound customers doesn't always have to be a car salesperson; just someone who can answer questions and reassure shoppers in their buying journey. That’s why it’s always best to choose a live chat provider that offers fully managed or co-managed packages.

This way, if your store gets an influx of requests from website visitors, or you suddenly lack coverage, you know you have a well-trained team that can connect with and assist your potential and returning customers without missing a beat.

With this type of service, your customers never miss out on an excellent experience; and in turn, you are getting more quality leads from your live chats.

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 through live chat is important. Consumers have very specific expectations that need to be met and, perhaps more importantly, just want to be listened to by car dealerships!

If you go the self-managed live chat 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 live chat training as time goes on. The nature of conversations with car dealers can change as the economy and automotive industry change, and there can be changes specific to your OEM and vehicle production to keep in mind when live chat questions about your inventory. 

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

When you get settled in with a new live chat or live chat software 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 with live chats, like a real time typing view or a response time clock?

Do they have flexible integrations that are the best for your CRM situation should you choose a managed live chat option? These are all worth asking about to ensure you’re getting the effectiveness, convenience, and benefits you are paying for.

Sometimes, our current dealer partners ask for a feature or solution that we already provide! Our Customer Care Team makes sure to assess your needs so we can make you aware of any quality-of-life features that fit your car dealerships 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, in the same way, you should test out a managed messaging provider. It’s here that you’ll get a complete picture of how they approach customer conversations that spur online sales. 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 AI? 

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 for car dealerships that push your customers further down the sales funnel. 

You should always be seeking to build relationships with your website visitors!

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

A good automotive live chat platform and provider starts with an authentic conversation that aims to build trust, 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 into what vehicles your customers are most interested in by noting the frequency with which customers chat regarding certain vehicles on your site. There is a report for nearly every aspect of the live chat with ActivEngage.

You can stay ahead of the curve for quality by reviewing what works and what doesn’t and continuing to analyze conversations to see what best suits your customer base, like noting where they are in their unique customer journey.

Start your Car Dealer Live Chat Software Journey with ActivEngage

Consider starting an automotive live chat approach with ActivEngage! We're looking to make the automotive business more conversational than ever before. 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 for car dealers.
  • MyDrive, a video test drive experience that leads customers further down their buying journey.
  • ActivTarget, the right offer, at the right time, for the right person.; the pop-up perfected!


Ready to discover how ActivEngage helps your dealership succeed?