Lessons in Live Chat from The Karate Kid

Written By Ted Rubin

Dealers, your online customers want to communicate with you in real-time. Having live chat services is the best way to connect with them, build your reputation, and get more leads all at once! But in order to do this, you need to be one with live chat (or at least let go of some preconceived ideas).

Today’s post is about helping you brush up on some live chat knowledge so that your can perfect your internal processes and thus see better results from chat. And I’ll do it with a little help from The Karate Kid’s, Mr. Miyagi.

Let go of antiquated ideas

Miyagi: To make honey, young bee need young flower, not old prune.


Some dealerships have yet to implement live chat on their websites because they don’t see the value in investing in bells and whistles. What they fail to see is that the Internet is making live chat less of a commodity and more of a necessity.

The modern shopper is driven by research, impatience, and the need for instant gratification. If you’re not available to answer their questions about a vehicle or service specials in real-time at your online showroom AKA your website, what do you think will happen? Odds are they might not be calling your dealership or stopping by for an answer - they’ll move on to the next car dealer’s site.

Commit to it

Miyagi: Either you karate do YES or karate do NO. You karate do “guess so”, [makes squishing gesture] just like grape. Understand?

In this conversation with Daniel, Mr. Miyagi wants him to understand that if he decides to do Karate, he has to see it through. Similarly, choosing to implement live chat services on your dealership’s website will not automatically sell you more cars. In order to reap the benefits of chat, you need to commit to your online shoppers.

When your online customers click to chat, they expect to be acknowledged in about 5 seconds or less by friendly, knowledgeable associates. If you have chat on your website but never pick up a chat or interact with customers as though they’re wasting your time, it could be detrimental to your dealership’s reputation.

When you chat with your online shoppers, treat them as though they are the same shoppers walking into your lot - because they very well could be.

Learn the ropes

Miyagi: First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule, Daniel-san, not mine. 

When Daniel wanted to learn the crane-kick technique from Mr. Miyagi, that was his response. Always the wise man, Mr. Miyagi knew that learning to crawl before you walk (though not exactly his words) would produce the best results.

It’s the same with live chat - your team should be trained in all the do’s and don’ts of chatting with your png;base64aaa7726a92aeea71customers before they pick up any chat conversation! For example, your team should know:

  • to pick up a chat in 6 seconds or less
  • when to use emoticons in live chat conversations
  • how long a customer will wait for your response before leaving a chat
  • what to say to a difficult customer

Training is a key element in providing great customer service to shoppers, whether they’re on your lot, or on your website. Does your live chat provider have any chat training available to your team? If not, then they should. Having a quality live chat conversation can be the difference between getting a lead, or giving it away to the competition.

Balance is everything

Miyagi: Better learn balance. Balance is key. Balance good, karate good. Everythinggood. Balance bad, better pack up, go home. Understand?

Mr. Miyagi knows that too much of anything is never a good thing. That’s why he wants Daniel-san to focus on his balance. Think of your live chat conversations in that same manner.

The main purpose of using live chat for your dealership is to sell more cars. However, if your team’s only focus is to get more leads and set appointments, you risk off-putting your customers. When a chatter lets you know that they’re looking for a used car for their 17 year-old daughter who has a 4.0 average, don’t ignore it.

Finding the perfect balance between the salesperson and the “Average Joe” customers can relate to will help you build a more solid relationship with your customers. And although it might not immediately get you the sale, your shoppers will remember you come decision-time.

Put Quality First

Miyagi: You trust the quality of what you know, not quantity.

When Daniel realized he didn’t know much about Karate, Mr. Miyagi agreed with him. In this scene Mr. Miyagi is trying to stress the importance of doing something well. The quality of your work will always affect your results.

Having a quality conversation with your online chatters will always be the best way to get a QUALITY lead - I’m talking full name, phone number, email address, and even a set appointment. But, how do you measure the quality of the conversations your team is having on your behalf?

By looking at your lead conversion rate. Having an approximate 80% conversionmeans you’re engaging your customers enough that they are ready to move to the next step with your dealership.

And if you’ve chosen to have a managed chat provider do it for you, make sure you hold them up to the same standards. Choosing to let the chat experts get you those leads will free you up to do what you do best: sell cars!

DISCLAIMER: Not all chat is created equal. If your chat provider outsources their manpower to “work-from-home” and offshore employees, ask to see what kind of training they’re given.

The level of expertise your chat team has will make all the difference in the quality of your leads and the reputation of your dealership - so choose wisely!


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