Chat and text growth in the auto industry

What Car Buyers Want: Digital Channels for Today’s Automotive Shoppers

Written By Ted Rubin

The role of the car salesperson is changing. While back in the day, shoppers would learn about car models at the dealership's physical showroom, thanks to the Internet, they now often arrive at your lot fully equipped with a competitive overview of the vehicle they want.

The way people buy cars is evolving, and so are their expectations toward the entire purchasing journey, from research to sale. Car dealers need to find innovative ways to engage and sell to increasingly tech-savvy and informed consumers.

So, what exactly do we know about the modern, digitally-driven car shopper?

Car buyers want to chat and text.

Peter Leto, the Head of Automotive Retail at Google, gave a fantastic presentation at NADA 2016, and shed light on some interesting consumer trends:


According to Google, car buyers no longer prefer to stop by the dealership, call the store, send email, or fill out a form. Instead, today’s shoppers are increasingly turning to chat and text to connect with your dealership.

Is your dealership in it to win it?

If your dealership is not using live chat by now, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect with consumers on a convenient platform they love to use.

And your dealership should love it too, for many reasons. For example, live chat helps you:

  • Cut costs. Phone calls are 1-to-1 conversations; Chat conversations can be 1-to-3, allowing staff to engage more shoppers efficiently.
  • Increase leads and sales. When implemented correctly, live chat reduces website bounce rates, and helpful reps can move shoppers further along their purchase journey.
  • Get an edge over your competition. You sell cars, just like the dealer across the street. Live chat allows you to provide unique, compelling experiences to your website visitors.
  • Improve customer relations. Live chat isn’t just for car sales. Your customer service department can utilize chat to engage upset shoppers and give you a second chance.

Bottom line, live chat is a win-win for everyone. And the numbers don’t lie. If your shoppers increasingly prefer to utilize text-based communications to engage with dealerships, and you’re not one of them, they’re going with the competition!

If you do have chat, you need to ensure your staff or managed chat provider is providing the best customer service to your prospective buyers. The increasing trend in chat and text popularity means more and more shoppers are bound to communicate with your business this way.

If the chat conversations being had on your behalf aren’t helpful, engaging, and dynamic, you’re pretty much handing them over to the competition.

What to look for in chat and text providers.

Google’s recent study shows that unlike other lead generation tools, real-time online and mobile communications are on the rise. And the quality of these conversations has never mattered more.

Whether you utilize live chat software, or you implement a managed live chat solution, here are a few things to look out for:

  • Training and troubleshooting. If you chat in-house, does your provider offer training on how to use the software and troubleshooting assistance? If you're outsourcing chat and text, what is the management system like? Where is the team housed? And how are the representatives trained?
  • Features and platform functionality. While it might be a slightly less common question if you are outsourcing chat, it's important to shop and compare software features when you will be handling chats and texting at the dealership. Will they help your team's efficiency? How do the features impact the consumer experience?
  • Reporting and analytics. Like all other digital marketing efforts, it's essential to monitor your results (number of chats, leads converted, average conversation time, etc.) in chat. Does your provider offer real-time reporting and analytics so you can better track the success of your live chat and texting solution?
  • Chat and text for all departments. The Sales Department is not the only profit center in your dealership. Does your managed chat provider offer chat assistance for all of your departments? If so, how are leads routed to the appropriate team?
  • Chat and text transcripts. It's proven that the more your staff reads chat transcripts before following up, the more likely they are to get prospective customers in. Not to mention it allows for more transparency and quality control. Does your managed chat provider send you every chat transcript?

Don't Limit Your Consumers' Touchpoints

The facts are: Your shoppers don't want to call the dealership or fill out a form on your website; they want to communicate via live chat and text. Offering these services can help bridge the gap between your digital and physical stores.

But don't be fooled into thinking all chat providers are the same. When it comes to chat and text, you always get what you pay for. Before adding live chat and text to your dealership website, do your research. Be sure to ask the right questions because the quality of these conversations will directly impact your bottom line!


Ready to discover how ActivEngage helps your dealership succeed?