Live chat support is ubiquitous in the automotive world today, but it hasn’t evolved beyond basic text exchanges of chat rooms in the early 2000s. Is that the experience you want your customers to have?
Automotive live chat requires instant responses which saps time from sales staff. Or, it requires an outsourced agent who can’t really help customers anyway. Outsourced live chat is little more than lead generation. People want to get help through chat, not just become a lead and leave their name and email to have someone else contact them.
There’s a better alternative in asynchronous messaging, which allows customers to get the right information at the pace they want. With messaging, clients feel more cared for and the staff can improve engagement and sales. Read on to find out how asynchronous messaging solves problems with chat and ultimately offers more value for dealers.
Why Automotive Live Chat is Dead
It may seem like instant support through chat is imperative to satisfy customers, but this isn’t true. The customer experience can actually be hampered by shallow chat support that doesn’t satisfy questions right away.
Dealerships can’t maintain instant response times throughout the day let alone for 24 hours on end. Outsourced live chat, on the other hand, just collects follow-up information after disappointing customers. And automated chatbots can’t do much more than offering up business hours. Perhaps the biggest issue for the automotive industry is that live chat exists at a single point in time and doesn’t provide any continuity for the customer or the dealership staff. Let’s take a closer look at these issues.
Live Chat for Car Dealerships Requires Instant Response
When a customer sees a live chat box online, they expect someone to be on the other end in real-time. According to Comm100’s 2022 Live Chat Benchmark Report, customers wait an average of 36 seconds for a response.
When people have to wait a few minutes or more, customer satisfaction declines. Someone with a question about the inventory of a particular model at the car dealership or their financing options won’t wait long before exiting and trying to find the information themselves.
Chat Creates a Burden on Dealership Staff
This puts a burden on dealerships to have someone available to answer chats during business hours. What if the sales agent was out on the lot helping a customer? That chat goes unanswered and the online customer is unsatisfied. Or, another person steps in to answer the chat but doesn’t have the right information and puts the chat request on hold. In the face of these issues, many car dealerships outsource live chat, but that comes with its own issues.
The communication platform you use can determine your success or failure with customer engagement and deal creation. A simple chat button doesn’t provide the infrastructure that would help you create engagement through conversational commerce.
A Managed Live Chat Service Is Like a Glorified Inbox
Managed live chat services do solve the issue of needing someone to answer chat requests at any time. But is an agent in some other state or country the best person for answering questions? No. How could they know anything about how you do business, your culture or even your community involvement? They merely collect customer information and forward it to someone at the dealership.
This means the conversation needs to change from a chat to a call or email, which is another hiccup in the customer experience. There’s a chance a dealership’s email would be flagged as spam, too, which would end the customer relationship.
A Callback List Doesn’t Satisfy
Buying a car isn’t like buying consumer goods or a tech item. The customer journey is complex and dealership communication needs to work like a well-oiled machine. It’s no fun to be put on a callback list when you expect to chat with someone at the company.
In the best-case scenario, the customer gives their information to the agent and is contacted by the right team at the dealership. Otherwise, the customer may simply end the chat when the agent can’t help them.
Automated Chatbots Delay the Inevitable
Using a chatbot is cheaper than outsourcing and it offers a 100% reply rate. Sounds good, right? Not exactly. A chatbot can’t do much for a dealership besides offer stock answers and forward a customer’s information to someone on the team.
Many bots masquerade as humans with stock photos of agents ready to assist shoppers right away. But most people can tell they aren’t speaking with a human instantly. Simple bots can only regurgitate programmed answers to frequent questions or provide store hours.
Chatbots Still Require Human Operators
More complex AI bots still can’t provide the support people really need from car dealerships, plus they cost more to use and take time to set up. Most people just go through the motions to get to a human at the car dealer, which means someone needs to provide support in real-time. This defeats the purpose of having a chatbot in the first place.
There’s also a good chance your prospect won’t leave their information, too. Who would feel welcomed after getting a canned response like, “Please enter your email address and a member of our staff will contact you shortly?”
Automotive Live Chat Providers Don’t Build Customer Continuity
One of the biggest issues with automotive live chat is the lack of continuity in the relationship. Customers and members of the sales staff feel this in different ways.
Each new chat is separate even if the customer has used chat on the website multiple times. The customer has to introduce themselves with each chat.
Cumbersome Customer History
Some chat tools may not offer transcripts or ask for customer information before the chat, which means there’s no history to pull up. If there is a chat history, it requires the agent to make the customer wait while they read it.
Customers that have the same issue multiple times need to re-navigate the same chat phrases to get to the right person each time.
Say a customer has a great time interacting with a salesperson at a dealer. Later on, the client goes to the website to ask a question in chat but is treated as a new prospect, which interrupts their experience.
When a customer leaves the chat, there’s no way to continue the conversation unless they left their information on purpose.
Why Messaging Applications Are the Better Option for Dealerships Today
Asynchronous messaging platforms create a digital space where customers can ask questions and work through information on their own time. And agents on the other end can take their time finding the right information since customers aren’t expecting an answer within seconds. The result is a safe asynchronous deal space that enables the customer to do as much or as little of their retail transaction online as they want. Ultimately, this empowers the customer and builds trust with the dealership.
More robust platforms can also synchronize dealership messaging with other systems like CRM, appointment scheduling, online sales, vehicle customization, and more. Asynchronous messaging is not only an alternative to live chat but the next generation of chat with more capabilities—a tool that can boost customer satisfaction and bring in more deals.
Messaging Is Second Nature (And Expected)
Asynchronous messaging is nothing new for your customers. Your market is already used to sending messages back and forth with their colleagues, friends, family, and even customer service staff at other companies. Since messaging is already ingrained in their personal and professional lives, why not align with their existing habits to create meaningful engagement for your dealership?
Customers don’t need to adopt messaging as a new technology because it’s second nature at this point. In fact, many people expect to be able to reach out to a company with a quick message whenever they want. According to Adweek, 68% of consumers prefer messaging over other communication channels.
Customers Can Get Help on Their Own Time
Dealership messaging sets up the expectation that the customer will get an answer from the right person in a short time—but not instantly. This takes the pressure off the relationship and allows the customer to continue their day without being glued to the screen. Think of texting but with rich media capabilities. And since messaging doesn't need to comply with TCPA guidelines and enforcement your dealership is derisking your customer communication by leveraging the robust capabilities of messaging instead of the limitations of text.
Throughout the messaging process, consumers can take their time to think things over, compare additional information, and then pick up the conversation when they are ready. Staff at dealers can also take advantage of the expanded timeline and access information from other departments without forcing the customer to sign off or making an awkward break in the conversation.
Messaging Holds a Continuous Thread
Asynchronous messaging can also allow other agents to connect to or leave the conversation without breaking the thread with the customer. The benefits of this include:
- Frictionless customer experience as staff members collaborate freely
- No disconnection when the thread switches agents
- The customer is the center of the journey
Additional team members can enter the transaction thread, offer help or information, and exit after completing their part. To the customer, this feels more organic than communicating with different people in separate channels. They are at the center of the experience.
Asynchronous Messaging Increases Dealer Communication Capacity
An automotive dealership can handle more conversations and create deeper connections through messaging than live chat. Staff members don’t have to wait by their computer to answer chats the minute they pop up or risk losing leads by not answering them. And instead of handling a few chats at once, a salesperson can handle 20 messaging conversations or more simultaneously.
Beyond that, an omnichannel dealership communication platform can harmonize phone support, messaging, email support, and customer data management on the agent side. This reduces app switching and saves time since agents can use fewer programs to complete tasks.
Since messaging is asynchronous, these conversations are easier for dealer agents to handle. They can be aware of each customer’s place in the journey and take the best action with each type of lead.
Messaging Offers a Rich Experience Compared to Car Dealer Live Chat
Chat is limited to basic text responses inside an online portal at one time, but messaging breaks free from these limitations. Asynchronous dealership messaging enhances the experience with other types of content like video and images. Dealership communication platforms can also synchronize with industry widgets and allow staff to use contact forms, run a credit check, set up a sales appointment, and more within the message thread.
Customers Can Complete as Much of the Process Online as Desired
With more advanced solutions like QoreAI, customers can do as little or as much of the shopping experience as they want through messaging. Within the message window, the customer can see dealership inventory, customize a new car, and view the digital showroom. If they want to start the financing process to purchase a vehicle, they can do that. Or, if they just want to ask a few questions about current promotions, they can do that, too.
On the customer’s end, the whole digital experience happens within a single thread that includes history. And for the sales staff, the communication program synchronizes with all their relevant back-end apps like digital retailing tools, trade and credit applications, or experience tracking using Google Analytics or Meta Pixel to make non buyer retargeting easy.
Dealership Messaging Provides Full Context
Context is another benefit of messaging platforms. Instead of disappearing into the ether after signing off a chat, visitors can pick up where they left off and keep communicating with the dealer from any device—phone, email, text, social, and even your branded app.
And when they pick up the connection, they can talk with the same salesperson as before. This is possible because the whole relationship is based on a permalink the customer receives. The link is the home where all future communication is stored no matter the time, device, or channel, and it is what the customer accesses each time.
Customers can see the full history of the connection, so they can keep track of any resources previously shared. That doesn’t happen with live chat apps.
Dealership staff members can also make use of context to increase conversions. Asynchronous messaging platforms can connect with the dealership CRM and reduce manual entry for staff. This way, the sales staff is able to see when a customer is at a critical part of their purchasing journey and offer the right response.
Build Customer Loyalty With Asynchronous Messaging
Considering the downsides to automotive live chat, having chat on your site could put a strain on your staff and lead to shallow customer relationships. Instead, overcome shallow relationships and build customer loyalty with dealership messaging. Customers already know how to use it. Plus, asynchronous messaging can help your staff make deeper relationships to increase sales. To recap, other benefits of asynchronous messaging include:
- Conversations evolve naturally in the customer’s own time
- Communication capacity increases for dealer staff
- Messaging offers a rich digital experience
- Dealership messaging offers a smooth transition between communication channels
- Staff members can use multi-channel context to shape the customer journey
Want to improve team collaboration and deliver better experiences for your clients? Reach out to see how QoreAI can help you create frictionless automotive retailing at your dealership.
Automotive Live Chat: FAQ
Live chat is often difficult for dealerships to use effectively without using outsourced chat or chatbots. Instead, dealership messaging can enhance the customer journey by providing a continuous thread across devices and integrating with back-end dealership apps.
Live website chat requires an agent to handle responses in real-time, which is not feasible for many dealerships. Neither chatbots nor outsourced chat can satisfy customers with complex needs, either. Chats also exist as single points in time and don’t offer continuity in the relationship.
Asynchronous messaging is a better option than live dealership chat because it offers conversational interaction with less pressure on both ends. Customers can pick up the same conversation on any device or channel they want, and dealership agents can handle many more message conversations than chats.