build rapport with shoppers

Use Live Chat to Build Rapport With Shoppers

Written By Eric Schlesinger

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.


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