COVID-19 Message: A Letter from Our Executive ChairmanRead Now

Committed to Our Customers During COVID-19

Thank you very much for entrusting your customer-facing communication to ActivEngage.  We take this responsibility very seriously, making sure that we deliver detailed and quality conversations to your customers each day. Many of you are closely monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and the state of its impact on our country and businesses. At ActivEngage, we’re monitoring it closely as well. Because you are a valued part of the ActivEngage Family, I wanted to let you know how we are working to assist you and the customers you serve.

Communication and guidance for your customers

Our Customer Engagement Experts (CEEs), are prepared to communicate with your customers at all levels of the car buying journey. Whether it’s full online retailing or simply online support via digital messaging, our team is ready to assist your shoppers 24/7. To that end, if you wish to have specific information provided to your customers, especially as the status of the situation evolves, simply reach out to our Customer Support Team. They will work diligently to ensure we convey your dealership’s message to your customers.

Training and preparedness for our employees

The wellbeing and safety of our staff is of the utmost importance. That’s why we’ve created a program that increases precautions in the office and allows for telecommuting should anyone feel ill or anxious. This ensures our CEEs continue to excel in building trust and moving conversations forward. Our enterprise-level platform allows our engineers, customer success, and chat agents to work from anywhere while staying safe and ensuring security. Additionally, our Technology Team is closely monitoring the ActivEngage suite of products to ensure they continue to operate at peak performance.

Dedication and ActivEngage-level quality for you

We want you to feel confident and have peace of mind when entrusting your online shoppers with ActivEngage. Our commitment to help your dealership make meaningful connections and build lasting relationships with your customers is at the forefront of everything we do. We will work tirelessly to continue providing the quality results and service that ActivEngage has been known to offer for over a decade.

From all of us here at ActivEngage, we wish you, your colleagues and families safety, wellness, and positivity during these challenging times.


Ted Rubin

Executive Chairman

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Want More Quality Leads? Start Talking About Finance in Chat

“Stop wasting so much time on leads that won’t close!”

Sound familiar? If you’ve ever screamed internally when you watch your BDC repeatedly follow up with crappy leads, it’s because you know that the quality of your leads determines the quality of your showroom traffic—and if this month’s sales quota will be met.

With today’s shoppers visiting less than 2 dealerships before making a purchase, your digital marketing strategy needs to be optimized for quality lead conversion. But how does your team discern high-funnel leads from ready-to-buy shoppers?

Offering to pre-screen shoppers during chat conversations can help your team close opportunities that are ripe for the picking. But before I explain how, let’s clarify what makes a QUALITY chat lead.

PSA: All Chat Leads are Not the Same

Yes, you can have chat leads with only a first name and email address. But you can also get quality leads from chat—and it’s easy for your team to tell the difference. Quality chat leads have rich customer information, like:

  • First and last name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Possible trade-in
  • Purchase intent and timeframe

…and other good-to-know information. Now that we’ve established that you can have good and better leads from chat, I will see your quality chat lead and raise you an enhanced chat lead.

Pre-Screen + Chat = Enhanced Lead

Imagine never hearing the words “I’m just browsing” again. When you pre-screen online shoppers in chat, you drive more qualified car buyers to your dealership.

Recently, ActivEngage partnered with 700Credit to offer an innovative approach to soft credit pulls: QualiFi. With just a name, email, and home address, our team can facilitate pre-screens through one of our credit service partners and drive more prequalified customers to your store. And our data shows it’s exactly what your customers want.

In a pilot with Sloane Automotive, over 70% of shoppers who converted into a lead agreed to a pre-screen.

These enhanced ActivEngage leads included live FICO scores and auto tradeline information, which is a game-changer for internet leads. Why? Because our expert chat team can have finance conversations through multiple channels, like Facebook Messenger, Craigslist, Google search results, and SMS text. Wherever your customers are looking for cars, we’re there to empower them to buy from you.

Check out a short clip of QualiFi in action below:

Why YOUR Sales Team Will Love Enhanced Leads

Your team benefits the most when you pre-screen shoppers before they set foot in your dealership. It allows your sales team to filter through leads, and work the opportunities with the highest ability to close first (enhanced leads)—which stops them from spending time on every lead hoping everyone they talk to is financially able to buy a car.

Additionally, you could create lead scores based on the financial information received. Dealerships with high lead volumes can use lead scoring to easily prioritize leads and increase lead follow-up efficiency. With this rating system, your sales team can know what vehicles to match to a person before they step foot into the dealership.

Here’s an example: Erica is looking for a 2018 Corolla. But your enhanced chat lead shows her FICO score, and she’s financially able to buy or lease an Avalon. We also know she has always wanted a moonroof from the transcript of the conversation. Your salesperson can have a list of potential vehicles ready to show Erica — and use the rapport from the transcript to close.

Finance Conversations…for Service Customers?

Have you considered what this can do for your Service-to-Sale process? When service customers are coming up on the end of their warranties, chat can help open them up to the possibilities of buying a new car from you.

For example, because ActivEngage integrates with major service scheduling platforms, our team can set appointments in chat (and other channels). With the right customer, we can suggest getting them into a newer car by offering a no-hassle, soft credit pull.

Closing the loop on the customer lifecycle in the aftermarket stage is hard. But it doesn’t have to be. Neither does separating okay leads from enhanced leads that get your team excited to sell and boost your ROI. Chat, and specifically chat about finance can turn automotive shoppers into buyers, and buyers into lifetime customers.

Want more qualified car buyers on your lot? Fuller service bays? More ROI from your marketing spend? We can help. Chat with us!

Setting appointments increases the value of internet leads

The Competitive Advantage of Internet Leads with Appointments

Internet leads from consumers who schedule and keep an appointment have a closing rate of almost 50%. Meanwhile, traditional ups typically close at 20%, says a recent study by PLADOOGLE, LLC.

The study also found that if dealers go above and beyond by having the vehicle cleaned and make the shopper feel special during their showroom appointment, the closing ratio for an Internet lead can exceed 80%!


Internet Leads with Appointments Have Significant Value

These statistics are not something to ignore. The evidence is clear that Internet leads have distinct advantages over traditional ups because they:

  • Give the dealer the opportunity to set an appointment, creating a commitment from your shopper
  • Allow dealers to gather valuable information about shoppers’ needs, which they can use to help close the deal
  • Enable the dealer to prepare for a superior showroom room experience, while also developing a lasting relationship via the initial conversation


Internet leads with appointments are gold

Expect More From Your Live Chat Provider

With these advantages in mind, there are some essential questions you need to ask your chat team. These questions will ensure you are getting the highest closing ratio possible:

  • Do they set test-drive or service appointments?

  • If you have managed chat, do they make sure your dealership is aware of shoppers arriving in an hour or less?

  • Do they ask questions that help gather the “good to know” information from your shoppers?

If you want the best results from Internet leads, get a chat team that sets appointments and asks the right questions. These two things are ultimately going to help you sell the most cars from live chat.

ActivEngage Sets More Appointments for Your Dealership

At ActivEngage, we’ve always understood the value of getting more foot traffic to your dealership. Our bottom line is your bottom line, which is why the ActivEngage chat team sets both Sales and Service Appointments on your behalf (and sends them directly into your DMS). Out of every chat lead we send our dealer customers, around 20% have a set appointment. 

Leads don’t get sales, people in your showroom do. If you settle for less than that, your chat investment is a waste!


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.



Automotive Digital Marketing: Live Chat Helps During Slowing Car Sales

How to Make the Most of Automotive Live Chat in a Slowing Economy [PODCAST]

You’ve invested a significant amount of time and money into optimizing your car dealership’s digital marketing strategy. Then, you’re told you have to make budget cuts because consumers aren’t buying cars like they were in 2016. What should you do?

Well, maybe it’s easier to start with what you shouldn’t do.

Todd Smith on Live Chat During Slowing Car Sales

ActivEngage CEO, Todd Smith sheds a light on a practice that could be detrimental to your business in this slowing economy: removing automotive live chat from your digital marketing strategy.

In a recent AutoSuccess podcast with Dave Davis, he answered the following questions:

  • What are the implications of removing live chat from your digital marketing strategy when dealership budgets shrink?
  • What are some live chat best practices representatives should apply to make the most of the experience for the customer?
  • What are some common mistakes chat teams often make when engaging customers?
  • How can new technology that allows live chat to happen outside the dealership websites change the shopping process? How can dealers adapt to these new mediums?
  • What are some questions dealers should ask themselves when developing a live chat follow-up process?
  • Aside from providing general information, how do chat transcripts help sales processes and impact the dealership’s bottom line?

So, before you make a rash decision to ‘turn off’ chat, check out this insightful, 20-minute podcast on why live chat can actually help your dealership thrive in a sales downturn and what you can do today to ensure live chat success:



Even More Automotive Digital Marketing Tips

If you’re looking for helpful live chat and digital marketing resources, check out our FREE eBook Library. You’ll find tips on proper lead follow-up, fixed ops digital marketing, and much more.

Looking for more automotive digital marketing tips to increase car sales and service revenue? If so, then don’t miss Todd Smith’s AutoNews webinar with the Used Car King, Todd Caputo. Learn how to move more units this summer by leveraging the latest digital tools and implementing effective lead follow-up strategies!

Sign up for the webinar here.

ActivEngage and Dealersocket Partner for service appointments

ActivEngage, Inc. Partners with DealerSocket to Offer Omnichannel Service-Scheduling Options for Car Dealers

June 12, 2017 (Orlando, FL) – ActivEngage, Inc., the most trusted brand in automotive live chat, is proud to announce a new service scheduling integration with DealerSocket, the automotive retail industry’s leading integrated technology platform.

Under the new partnership, DealerSocket customers will now be able to leverage ActivEngage’s expertly-trained chat team to convert conversations into service appointments. Participating dealers will also benefit from increased productivity of parts and service departments, higher customer engagement across devices, streamlined communication to efficiently load the shop, and increased repair order volume.

This integration provides dealers a more effective way to streamline communication and increase repair order revenue while delivering an exceptional online experience to aftermarket shoppers.

On the partnership and how the unique service scheduling feature will impact dealers, Todd Smith, CEO of ActivEngage, said, “DealerSocket recognizes the power of giving online shoppers the opportunity to interact with dealers in real-time via messaging solutions like chat, text, or social media to set appointments. This relationship will allow our company improve the online consumer experience while creating better results for the dealer.”


About ActivEngage

Since 2007, ActivEngage has provided the most trusted automotive live chat software and managed chat service to automotive businesses around the world. ActivEngage employs professional Live Chat Specialists expertly trained to answer inquiries and generate additional sales and service opportunities. Additionally, with ActivEngage’s innovative web-based software, dealerships can build relationships with online customers and provide concierge-level customer service. ActivEngage has ranked five times as a Top Rated Chat Product Award Winner in the DrivingSales Dealer Satisfaction Awards and is a five-time Diamond Award Winner in the Dealers’ Choice Awards. Visit for more information.

About DealerSocket

DealerSocket is a leading automotive technology platform that helps dealerships in the United States, Canada, and Australia improve profitability through a fully integrated suite of marketing, sales, service, customer experience, DMS, websites, data mining, and inventory management solutions. Headquartered in San Clemente, Calif., DealerSocket employs more than 1,000 people, and serves more than 10,000 dealerships and 300,000 active users in the United States, Canada, and Australia. DealerSocket’s advanced technology provides benchmarking data that paces the industry, and its insightful experts identify trends and develop strategic roadmaps that help dealers optimize processes and operate more profitably. Visit for more information.

4 Key Skills Your Dealership’s Self-Managed Live Chat Team Should Have

At ActivEngage, it’s no secret that we’re strong advocates of quality conversations. And we know our managed chat team does it best. But, if you’re considering building a self-managed chat team at your dealership, you’ll need a team ready to build relationships with online shoppers. That’s why today, I’m sharing four essential live chat skills you should look for and build upon when managing your team at the dealership. Here we go:

4 Key Live Chat Skills Your Dealership Team Needs

1. Website Familiarity

The ugly truth is dealership websites are still not navigable enough to provide a no-hassle user experience. Many times, your shoppers are lost and need chat reps to guide them to the right pages on your website.

This is a big reason why your chat department should know the ins and outs of your dealership website. When a shopper chats in to ask for the towing capacity of your 2015 Chevy Silverado, your chat rep better be able to find that answer at lightning speed.

Today’s shoppers don’t have the time or patience to wait forever and day for chat responses — after about 30 seconds, their attention meter will be at its limit, and they won’t stick around. They’ll move on to a dealer who can answer their questions faster.

Having a chat team that actively reviews your pages and knows the quickest way to access things like your specials, finance application, and critical information on inventory pages will go a long way in guiding your online shoppers from your website to your brick-and-mortar store.

2. Fast, Accurate Typing

When it comes to chatting, time is of the essence. None of your chat reps should be one-finger typing! Set a benchmark speed you want your chat team to type at, and hold them to it.

Also, be sure to hold your team accountable for their typing accuracy! Yes, the occasional typo may happen. But if your chat rep is constantly leaving out punctuation marks and words, failing to capitalize letters at the beginning of a sentence, or misspelling names, it can leave a sour impression on your shoppers.

3. The Right Tone

While a face-to-face encounter allows your staff to be polite, reassuring, and friendly, live chat requires a bit more work from the chat representative to emote these qualities in written form.

Make sure you hire a representative with emotional intelligence and other essential live chat skills. Your chat reps should:

  • Understand how punctuation affects emotions. Too many question marks or an exclamation point at the wrong time could result in a lost opportunity.

  • Pay particular attention to humor in text form, as it can get lost or be misinterpreted by your customers. Encourage them to be friendly, but mindful of their word choices!

  • Let the conversation flow naturally instead of using canned responses and trying to cut the conversation short.

4. A Solid Focus on Chat

As a customer, there’s nothing more off-putting than chatting with a representative that isn’t paying attention to me.

Having a chat agent that’s doing ten different things at once could be detrimental to your chat conversion. While your chat rep might be busy doing important things (i.e., handling phone calls, setting appointments, etc.), customers don’t care. They want quality customer service with the sole focus on them and their problems.

A professional rep will pick up chats in 10 seconds or less, quickly respond to shoppers questions, and expertly assist your customers.

Let your chat team focus solely on chat. This will allow chat reps to connect with shoppers’ wants and needs, to assist them quickly and efficiently, and ultimately get more leads for your dealership.

How to Keep Your Chat Team Accountable:

Keep your chat team in tip-top shape by monitoring their chats in real-time, encouraging them to take online typing tests, and reviewing their chat transcripts regularly to ensure your dealership’s name is held in high regard (and that it’s spelled correctly, too!).

And remember: Establishing clear expectations on what chat conversations should look like, providing live chat training and setting benchmarks for your team will help your team hone their live chat skills and have quality conversations that create lasting impressions on your shoppers!

6 Do’s and Don’ts of Mobile Chat Conversations

annoyed_mobile_shopperThe mobile shopping experience has been gaining precedence in the last few years, particularly in the last few months (Thanks, Google!), which is why in today’s blog I’ll be sharing some helpful tips about how to effectively assist mobile shoppers in chat.

Here are 6 big do’s and don’ts of mobile chat conversations:

1. DO look over the shopper’s live chat data

In a previous blog, I mentioned how leveraging live chat datacan help you personalize your chat conversations.ActivEngage’s chat software, for example, gives you access to important shopper information such as geolocation and the device the shopper is using.

Is the shopper in your local area and on a mobile device? If so, it’s possible they’re looking to stop by. And by knowing their location information, you can direct the conversation to get them in for a test drive.

When you pay attention to it, live chat data can help you dictate how a chat conversation will go!

Note: Not all chat providers offer the same consumer data in their software. If you are researching live chat vendors, make sure to ask what consumer data is included to help you understand your shopper’s wants and needs!

2. DON’T use text-based lingo

Do U want 2 stop by 2morro? Were U looking 2 lease? Wats UR phone #?

Do NOT write like this in a mobile chat conversation, or any chat conversation. Text-based lingo can cause communication issues and confusion, and replacing words with numbers is unprofessional.

However, if a shopper initiates the texting lingo, it’s okay to use popular acronyms and smiley faces – but ONLY after the shopper has used them first. This will ensure there are no miscommunications between you, and it keeps the tone both friendly and professional.

3. DO get to the point faster

Even though you aren’t allowed to spell tomorrow like “2morrow”, there are plenty of other ways to make your sentences shorter to help you respond to mobile shoppers quickly and efficiently.

Here are 3 simple ways you can get to the point faster during mobile conversations:

Avoid complex sentence structure.

Prepositional phrases, passive sentences, flowery language, unnecessary formalities and jargon? OUT. You don’t need them.

Instead of sentences like: “As we have a variety of tire replacement options at the dealership, I would like to know if there was a particular tire brand you’re partial to, or if you have no particular preference we could go from there as well.”

Try this: “We have tires replacements to fit most vehicles here! Were you looking for a particular brand?”

Formulate a response as the shopper is responding.

ActivEngage’s PreRead™ feature allows you to read what shoppers are typing as they are typing it and before they hit send button. This feature gives chat reps more time to think about what to say, quickly research if needed, and respond without delay!

Directly address the shopper’s question.

If a shopper asks about tire prices, give them the price range, and ask if they want a specific brand. By directly answering the question and asking a relevant question in return, you will get to the heart of the shopper’s wants and needs.

If you think about it, it actually takes more work to provide a vague statement because once the shopper demands a real answer, you have to go back and provide it. It’s best just to give them the real answer upfront if you can.

4. DON’T shun diverse shoppers

Mobile devices aren’t only for English-speakers, so your mobile chat service shouldn’t be either!

Having chat representatives that speak a common language in your region other than English is a great asset to your dealership. They’ll be able to better assist non-English speaking shoppers online — and offering this service can set you apart from the competition!

ActivEngage’s software also has a 16-language translation tool that allows shoppers to chat in their preferred language. The shopper can write and receive responses in the language of their choice while you read and respond in English!

5. DO ask for the appointment

Many mobile shoppers chat on-the-go. That means they could already have the intention of car shopping or stopping by for service…or they could be showrooming and ready to move on from a competitor’s dealership to yours!

Therefore, it’s important to always ask shoppers if they would like to set up an appointment during a chat. If they are only an hour or less away, great! You’ll be ready for them.

6. DON’T forget to be friendly

After all you’ve learned about mobile shoppers and their need for immediacy and to-the-point answers, it’s easy to get caught up in just being “efficient” rather than being friendly.

But don’t forget, chat is about people connecting with people. Be personable, conversational, and talk about the benefits you can offer to the shopper.

Make it a positive and memorable experience. By remembering to be friendly and personal, you can build lasting relationships with chat that should last for years to come!

Risky Business: 3 Ways a Bad Outsourced Chat Team Can Hurt Your Sales

gettyimages_468957239-resized-600I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: not all chat providers are the same. Vendor priorities vary, software technology can be user-friendly or not, not all providers hire chat teams within the US, and the quality of managed chat conversations are not equal.

In fact, a bad managed chat service can be detrimental to your business! If the representatives don’t have expert training, do not dominate the English language, and are not held responsible for the conversations they have on behalf of your dealership – it could cost you opportunities and your reputation could suffer.

Whether you already have a managed chat team, or want to implement one for the first time — here are 3 red flags to look out for to ensure your managed chat service is helping your business instead of hurting it:


Some managed chat providers do not properly train their staff in the automotive industry, dealership websites, and online automotive retail. Therefore, their conversations don’t typically provide valuable information to the shopper, and thus they create a negative online experience.

For an example, take a look at this chat conversation:

[Chat Rep Name]: Welcome!

Visitor33043: Hi. I would like some information on the 2010 Tundra

[Chat Rep Name]: May I know your question please? And just to address you better, may I have your full name please?

Visitor33043: Fred…What do you mean may I know your question?

[Chat Rep Name]: Nice to have you with us Fred.

Visitor33043: Is this an automatic or standard?

[Chat Rep Name]: Give me a moment while I look that up for you.

Visitor33043: Hellooo

[Chat Rep Name]: (3 minutes later) Alright Fred, what I’m going to do is to have my manager get back to you with all the details on it, may I have your email address and phone number for them to reach you?

Visitor33043: Why? Can’t you give me an answer?

Visitor33043: Hello?

[Chat Rep Name]: Unfortunately I don’t have that information on hand. May I have your email address and phone number for them to reach you?

Visitor33043: Nevermind… found it. Under the transmission speed FYI

If you put your consumer hat on, you’ll notice a few things are wrong with this chat. For example, Fred had to repeat himself because the chat representative didn’t acknowledge his question.

However, what’s most surprising is that the answer to Fred’s question could have been found on the VDP page — but the chat rep did not take the time, or did not have the training, to know how to properly research the vehicle and provide answers.

Your dealership website needs a managed chat team that is trained to:

  • Reflect your brand. Incorporate information about your dealership in the conversation – such as competitive advantages, whether you have loaner vehicles, dates of your upcoming sales events, and more

  • Answer questions about vehicle specs that demonstrate knowledge, authority, and encourage consumer confidence in your dealership

  • Have positive, quality conversations that create good first impressions and convert online shoppers into more leads and appointments for your store

Otherwise, you’ll lose opportunities and dollars, upset shoppers, and hurt your reputation.


If the chat representative cannot effectively interact with your online shoppers, the quality of the conversations being had on your behalf will plummet — and so will the consumer experience on YOUR website. This can happen two ways:

A language and culture barrier

Some chat vendors outsource their staff overseas, and although cheap labor saves the upfront costs of chat to your dealership, it can have serious long-term consequences for your business.

When a chat rep is not fluent in English and doesn’t know US culture, some awkward conversations and misunderstandings can occur. In a previous blog, we give an example of a chat rep not understanding the English acronym “Asap!”. It’s the little things like this that make shoppers crazy!

Here are some other barriers that inhibit a chat rep’s ability to produce a personalized, professional conversation:

  • Is unaware of important holidays (i.e. Labor Day, Memorial Day, etc.)

  • Does not understand English vernacular

  • Frequently omits articles in sentences like a, an, and the

  • Misuses or misspells words often

To ensure your dealership makes the best impression online, you always want your chat representative to be professional. And professionalism includes typing with a strong command of English grammar and spelling, and by being able to hold a conversation that personally relates to your shoppers – even about national holidays.

These details, although they seem like minor communication adjustments, definitely help avoid awkward conversations. When chat reps communicate effectively, shoppers get their questions answered. And when shoppers get their questions answered, they’re more likely to buy from you!

So don’t make your shoppers struggle with basic communication when they look for answers. They’ll leave your website and not come back!

The chat representative uses scripts

Your online shoppers DO NOT want to talk to Mr. Roboto. They want to have real conversations with real people. However, some managed chat providers do use scripts because they believe scripts give them consistency that is measurable, and that they have more control over the conversations.

The problem with this is that there is nothing natural about scripted chat conversations — they just frustrate your shoppers! Your staff doesn’t use scripts on the sales floor, so why would you allow your managed chat team to use them on your website?

One of the biggest reasons your website visitors love using live chat and willingly give out their contact information along with other useful information, is that there is another human being tending to their needs.

To make your shoppers happy, find a managed chat provider whose team is expertly trained to have personalized conversations based on the shopper that chats in, not representatives that think “one script fits all.”


Many managed chat providers do not offer a dedicated support team that ensures dealership customers are happy with their chat service, or that can help them fix other areas of their digital marketing.

This may be because the provider doesn’t have the resources, doesn’t want to pay for it, or may not see the benefit in investing in people who specialize in assisting customers with their success.

However, a support team is essential because like all digital marketing, live chat requires monitoring and adjusting to fit the needs of the modern shopper.

The chat experience is changing over time as shoppers get smarter about technology and get more familiar with using the service. Your chat provider has to adapt to the shopper and the dealership’s needs – and the only way to adapt properly is to have a good support team that keeps track of YOUR success.

You shouldn’t pay a chat provider to set up a service and just disappear, leaving nothing behind but a 1-800 number.

The best managed chat providers understand that a chat service is a partnership with your dealership. So choose a live chat provider that will HELP you and offer you the personalized and proactive support you need to win more sales.

Remember: Your chat investment is only as good as the quality of the conversations had on your behalf. Do your research before selecting a managed chat provider and ask the necessary questions to ensure you get a professional chat service that will meet your shopper’s needs and increase your sales.

build rapport with shoppers

Use Live Chat to Build Rapport With Shoppers

People buy from businesses they like, trust, and know—which is a big reason why establishing rapport is so important in the sales process, both on the showroom floor and on your dealership’s website.

Qualified Sales Leads Start with Rapport

The number one reason live chat will fail at your dealership is that of a lack of a quality conversation. Building rapport is what’s going to help you make the shopper more comfortable to give you their contact information. It’s crucial for your chat team to possess customer service skills so they can build rapport AND generate a qualified sales leads. You must have both to see a return from your chat service.

Avoid Scripts at all Costs

Some live chat vendors try to sell scripted chat as the “scientific approach” to getting you more qualified sales leads. They say that chat does NOT involve any personal interaction and that it is in fact, the driest form of communication available to consumers.

How can you build a relationship with your online shoppers if your chat team is treating them like scientific subjects, and not actual people? You wouldn’t do this at your physical dealership, so don’t do it online when your visitors chat in.

Just as you strive to provide excellent customer service on your dealership’s sales floor, you should also demand it from your live chat team, whether outsourced or in-house.

To make this happen, chat reps should be using the shopper’s name, directly answering specific questions, and showing their personality within the chat by avoiding the use of scripts. Illuminating that the chat rep is a human being (NOT a robot) will help generate more qualified sales leads and actual sales!

You don’t script the conversations your team has on your showroom floor, so why would you script them online? When your chat representatives have unscripted chats, shoppers are not only more likely to give out their contact information; they’re also more likely to be excited about working with your dealership and thus visit your showroom!

Give ‘em What they Ask For!

Answering shoppers’ questions is the best way to get them to trust you, hands down. When they trust you, they will buy from you.

Online shoppers don’t want to feel like they’re just another number. Your chat team needs to understand that they are more than just a lead source—they’re also a source of information for your shoppers.

Therefore, Chat reps first and foremost need to be able to answer almost all shopper questions.

Here are some examples of questions that your chat reps should be able to answer:

  • What is the towing capacity of this vehicle?

  • Do you offer loaner vehicles to service customers?

  • Do you have any tire specials?

  • What time are you open on New Year’s Day?

  • I have bad credit. Can I still get approved for a car?

  • Are there any specials running for this vehicle?

  • Is this vehicle still available?

  • Who is your General Manager?

Your website visitors who are clicking to chat expect answers to these questions—so don’t risk putting them off and forcing them to leave your website on a sour note by having unhelpful chat reps! Give ‘em what they ask for!

Ask the Right Questions

Questions to obtain the shopper’s name, phone number, and email are among the top priorities for some chat representatives — but a chat team worth anything will go further in building rapport for your dealership by asking other investigative questions.

Probing questions help your staff follow up with your shoppers more personally and intelligently. When you read the chat transcript, it should help your team answer questions like:

  • Is the customer looking to finance?

  • Is there a particular mileage, color, or specs the shopper is looking for in a vehicle?

  • Why has the shopper chosen this vehicle – New baby? Needs space for golf clubs? Commutes 100 miles to work every day?

  • Does the shopper have a trade in, and if so, what is the year, make, and model?

  • What service does this customer need to be done on their vehicle?

That being said, not every visitor that clicks to chat is interested in having extensive conversations. The amount of rapport built and information gathered from a chat conversation can vary depending on the shopper’s personality.

If your chat transcripts are generally only 2 minutes long, without questions asked other than, “May I have your phone number and email address so a representative can contact you back with the information you requested?”, you need to consider switching to a chat provider with a quality chat team.


We’ve said before that your chat provider should be adding value to the conversations being had on your behalf—but that’s only a piece of the puzzle. Once that conversation is over, what value are they adding to your follow-up process?

If your chat team isn’t helping you build rapport with your dealership’s prospective customers, you are the one missing out—and it will inevitably affect your bottom line.