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Ghosted? 5 Ways to “Resuscitate” Conversations with Unresponsive Online Shoppers

We’ve all been there. Someone texts in, asking a question. You respond with an answer. Maybe you have a back-and-forth conversation for a bit then…poof! You’ve been ghosted. You’re now dealing with an unresponsive customer. How do you breathe new life into that conversation and determine if they’re gone for good or ready to come in?

One of our advocates posed that question to our CONNECT Rewards community. Here are some of the follow-up text ideas shared by other industry professionals:

1). Send a photo of what they were interested in.

Remind shoppers why they reached out to you in the first place by texting them a picture of the vehicle, apartment other other product they were eyeing. Have a little fun with it, too. Consider putting a sign on the window or door that says, “Reserved for Bob” or “Adopt me, Bob.”

2). Send a video.

You can get really creative here if you want. This is a great opportunity for you to “introduce” yourself and send a personalized video that showcases something new about the vehicle, home or apartment. Remember to get a shot of the interior or the part they were most interested in. (You can use the same sign as in the photo here, too.)

3). Give them an update.

If the product they’re interested in is still available or if new inventory that matches their specs has arrived, let them know. And shoot them a text if someone else expresses interest in that same vehicle or home! It’s an easy way to double-check if they’re still in the market or not (and create some urgency).

4). Share new incentives or promotions.

Just about everyone loves a good deal, so share any specials that have changed…or let them know of an incentive that is expiring soon. It might prompt action.

5). Sometimes, just a nudge works.

While you don’t want to be pushy and bombard them with communications, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Simply acknowledge that you haven’t heard from them for awhile and that you want to make sure all their questions were answered. One dealership (John Roberts, VP & GM at Roberts Motors, Inc.) has a great response rate by asking previously unresponsive customers if they’ve been eaten by alligators!

Regardless of how you follow up via text, don’t be afraid to have a little fun. Add some personality and make that communication different than the usual automated responses people often get. After all, the connections you make can set you apart from the competitor down the street.

2016 Dealer Survey Infographic: Automotive Chat & Text Bring Results

 

When you learn what shoppers prefer, do you ignore that knowledge? Or do you use it to appeal to—and win—more of them? Let’s say you learned that 4 in 5 people were drawn to the color red. You’d probably rearrange your inventory in both physical and virtual showrooms to feature the red cars (and possibly draw more attention).

Well, more than 4 in 5 car shoppers and buyers shared their preference for mobile messaging. And dealership professionals are using that knowledge to their advantage.

In the newly released 2016 Dealer Survey report, we share how messaging—automotive chat, mobile text and the like—continue to pay off for dealerships. After all, such communication allows you to meet shoppers where they already are, on the channel they’re more likely to respond on.

Check out the infographic below (or click here) for a peek at the numbers. Then read the full 2016 Dealer Survey results for more insights, including why the automotive industry may embrace messaging even more this year (and how you can prepare).

Why Answering Dealership Chats & Texts Is His Answer to Closing More Deals

The missing puzzle piece to close deals

What works for one company may not work for another. That’s why there are common debates about which messaging approach is best—have someone else manage it all, do it all in-house or a mix of both—let alone which vendor to use. But at Windsor Chrysler in Ontario, there’s no question left in Steve Desjardins’ mind.

“I’ve used several chat solutions,” recalls the General Manager. “Not only did they not allow my team to answer, they didn’t answer for us very well. But we’ve been seeing the best results since we switched to Contact At Once!’s co-managed solution two years ago.”

We recently sat down with Steve and discussed why he’s such a believer in personally connecting with customers (especially when it happens via text or chat).

Q: Why do you think you’re getting better results now?

Steve Desjardins: It’s a combination of good people, good technology and the fact that we can use that technology the way that best fits our dealership’s and customers’ needs. To me, the ability to self-manage the conversations is valuable. We know our customers the best! Contact At Once! helps my sales team connect with those customers and answer their questions, but we still get the after-hours backup needed to assist people who reach out when the dealership is closed: the Contact At Once! managed chat team treats those customers the way we would.

Q: So would you say using the Contact At Once! chat and text solution has improved the consumer experience? What about sales?

SD: We sell at least 5-8 cars per month that we can attribute back to Contact At Once!, and the consumer experience has improved significantly for both customers and sales reps! In fact, I recently set up the entire sales department to use the texting software; it’s just the way to go. I’ve had employees text me, saying they were able to sell a car from their own couch! It’s really a great experience for everyone involved. (Even I love getting the conversation transcripts; I read every single one.)

Q: What do you like most about using Contact At Once!?

SD: I can 100% say that my favorite part about using Contact At Once! is my dealership’s ability to self-answer and self-manage our customers, with backup when we need it. Today’s customers want answers right away, and they can tell the difference between talking with a robot or a real person…even over a chat or text message. Contact At Once! makes that personal connection quick and easy, so we can take care of our customers and keep them coming back.

The “Magic” Formula for Overcoming Auto Shoppers’ Objections

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Psych! There is no magic formula to win every customer’s heart, much as we may wish for one. But don’t just give up at the first sign of contention. Consider steps you can take to appeal to those who raise objections or have doubts during the selling process, especially during a chat or text conversation (tips courtesy of our Contact At Once! dealer community).

Be Relatable

More than 3 in 5 consumers feel like they’re being taken advantage of at a dealership, according to a new Beepi / Harris Poll study. So this first tip is essential when speaking with any prospective buyer: Relate to them. David Bardeen of Mazda West Ridge says, “I do my best to remind the customer that I am one, too. I understand where they are coming from.” This helps people let their guard down a bit and be more open and forthcoming about any concerns that may arise in the midst of the conversation. When you know the objection, you can address it!

Stay Focused on Their End Goal

Another part of empathizing is to stay focused on what the customer wants. In other words, help them find the vehicle that meets their end goal. Dig into what that really means to each individual consumer—which can prepare you for potential conflict too—and look for ways to make the purchase process more convenient and simple (saving time is always a plus!).

Acknowledge the Objection

Don’t forget to respect the consumer’s opinion by acknowledging the issue they’ve raised, either. This way they know you’re listening to them. In other words, don’t just push ahead with your points as to why they’re “wrong” and why your vehicle and dealership are “right.” If they say they’re just browsing or researching, maybe you mention how smart it is to do that kind of research…and then offer some suggestions of what to look for.

Rephrase the Question or Objection

After acknowledging the objection, try rephrasing the original question or point.

  • Scenario 1 – Let’s put this in the frame of a chat conversation where the consumer doesn’t want to provide contact information, which means the chat won’t be considered a valid lead. If the consumer is legitimately interested in what you have to offer, asking for contact information to make an appointment (test drive, etc.) tends to have a high success rate. The key is being genuine in the ask, not just hounding them for information like a human form field.
  • Scenario 2 – Another common objection centers around pricing, which we all know can be tricky to handle. Many chat/text users try to avoid such discussions if possible because tension and miscommunication easily happen while discussing the price of a vehicle. If someone chats or texts and really wants to know the price, a good alternative might be sharing the base price that’s already listed online…and reminding the shopper about the many other factors to consider that might be better discussed in person, from trade-ins to credit history, etc. Denise Jackson of Fowler Toyota adds, “If [the objection] is money, I say everything is negotiable in person.”

Provide Good Service

All things considered, the secret to overcoming auto shoppers’ initial objections may often be as “simple” as providing really good service during that chat or text conversation. Listen and address their concerns. Be friendly, seek to answer all their questions, guide their next steps and follow up swiftly. If an issue can’t be resolved over chat or text, let consumers know why and reassure them that you’re getting them the help they need.

The above tips could turn your sales interactions—both digital (chat, text, etc.) and in-person—into better experiences for all involved.

It’s a People Thing: Why This Dealer Says Mobile Messaging Is Vital to the Customer Experience

Mobile Messaging Superhero

What defines your dealership isn’t just the vehicles you sell—numerous dealers sell the same thing. It isn’t just your location—there are often many nearby competitors, not to mention the growing number of online buying options. It also isn’t just your price. In fact, over half of car shoppers in AutoTrader’s Car Buyer of the Future study would buy based on a better experience vs. a lower price AND 73% would drive farther to reach a dealership that provided a positive experience!

As the stats above indicate, what really makes you stand out is customer experience. And that is a people thing, from your dealership staff to how your people use technology to connect with today’s ever more demanding customers.

Sharon Regan, BDC Manager of City Cadillac Buick GMC, agrees. Here’s why she thinks the right mobile messaging solution can empower your people (and why she chose the solution she did).

Q: What do you like best about mobile messaging, like automotive chat and text?

Sharon Regan: You have to engage consumers the way they want to be engaged—fish where the fish are, so to speak. This whole “pick up the phone because I want to talk to you” approach doesn’t work. That’s why we offer the options to chat or text with us on our website and third-party ads, and we’re seeing good results!

I also like how we’re able to empower our people with this engagement: We use a co-managed setup, so our two most experienced reps take the chat or text conversations when they’re available. When they’re not, the Contact At Once! professional messaging experts take over and send the leads to our BDC team.

Q: Any tips about how to use such communication options more effectively?

SR: START USING IT. I can’t stress that enough. Your product could be the best in the world, but if you don’t engage with customers the way they want to engage, it’s not going to matter. I tell every new hire that people can buy cars anywhere. The only difference in where they buy is YOU and your pitch. So we use the same script process via chat or text as when we’re talking on the phone. No matter how we interact, we’re there to help. We’re there to bring them into the dealership and help them buy.

I also suggest listening to how your technology sales rep suggests setting up the messaging solution. Use it (and master it) how it’s designed to be used first, so you can better adapt if necessary. Contact At Once! has been very flexible in helping us adjust our design and implementation, and I’m very happy.

Q: What do you suggest looking for in a mobile messaging provider?

SR: Obviously you want a provider who has real power in their technology (one of the reasons we went with Contact At Once!). But I think the people behind the technology is just as important. Contact At Once! has been very responsive, offers phenomenal support—and I have to say that my rep is the best! I trust her guidance, and she’s never once proven me wrong.

That’s the power of having the right people backing you up, from your dealership team to your vendor team!

After-Hours Chat & Text? Here’s What Worked for This Dealer

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It’s 9:00 p.m. Many consumers now have time for car research or finally remember to schedule that service appointment. But your dealership staff have gone home for the day. What if those consumers have questions?

That’s a common challenge, one this BDC director has been trying to solve the right way. David Simonin of Stephen AutoMall Centre in Connecticut shares how automotive chat and text can help or hurt, depending on the quality of the solution.

Q: What got you interested in setting up automotive chat and text after regular business hours?

David Simonin: After several years of using Contact At Once! on our main site, we saw how that convenient online connection appealed to many customers. We wanted to offer access to such help on each individual dealership site too, including after-hours. It’s just a great service to offer customers who are used to taking care of almost everything else online at all hours of the day or night.

Q: You switched from Contact At Once! to another chat company…and then came back. What drove those actions?

DS: I simply didn’t realize that Contact At Once! (which we started using before I came on board) could also be set up the way I wanted: to include after-hours managed chat for all departments and all dealerships. Another automotive chat company came in and said they could do it all, so we switched.

To put it nicely, that product just didn’t work for us.

The chat company’s answering agents took all the chats but, most of the time, they didn’t even answer the questions our customers asked. I saw transcript after transcript where customers asked simple questions like “Can I change my oil change time?” and the answering agent responded, “Thank you for your stay on our site.” Or a shopper had a question about a vehicle for her father, but was hounded for contact details without getting the question addressed or making any personal connection. One customer even said, “I’m talking to a robot, aren’t I?”

That drove me to talk with Jason, my Contact At Once! rep, again. I learned that they could do exactly what I was hoping to do in the first place—help us connect with customers when we can and be available after-hours when we can’t.

Q: So what’s your managed chat experience like now?

DS: We switched back to Contact At Once! and went with their Professional solution. Now there’s an intelligent person on the other end of the line with our customers when we can’t be there. Their answers are pertinent to the question, and they actually connect with the customer!

And now the transcripts show stories like a customer chatting in about her car not starting at 7:00 a.m. (right before our staff arrives). The Contact At Once! messaging expert couldn’t help her with the service issue, but he empathized and made sure she knew that he’d have the service team contact her as soon as they opened. He passed her information on to our BDC, and we took care of her just a few minutes later. In fact, if the lead comes in while I’m at home, I can still forward it on to the correct team immediately!

We’ve only been using this version of Contact At Once! for about a month or so now, but we’ve seen several appointments and happy service customers as a result of the chat and text conversations. The difference is amazing.

The main thing I want people to learn from my experience is this: If your chat solution isn’t doing what you want, ask Contact At Once! They have all kinds of chat management options, and they’ll customize the solution to get you what you need.

Beyond Phone Calls: Why This Dealership Embraces the Latest in Messaging

Creative Thinking Messaging Trends

When you sell a vehicle, you are selling basically the same product consumers can buy from multiple dealers down the street. What makes you different—what makes people buy from YOU—is baked into everything your dealership does, from marketing to pricing, location, convenience and how you communicate with those consumers.

J.C. Baker, MBA, CPFS and Director of Internet Sales for Jake Sweeney Chevrolet, aims to make his team the “model of perfection” in those communications that lead to sales. We asked him to share his approach, from chat to text and beyond.

Q: What strategy has proven most successful when it comes to digital messaging (and interacting with prospective buyers in general)?

J.C. Baker: What consumers seem to want is what I want as a consumer: Someone to talk to me now and a real conversation with direction. So regardless of the communication vehicle, our team’s strategy is that we do not try to “sell” them during the chat or over the phone. We try to figure out what the consumer needs, articulate it and help him or her buy. It is how you speak and respond with solutions—how you create expectations and meet them quickly and conveniently—that makes the difference. (We actually teach communication strategy classes at our dealership that are mandatory for our team.)

Q: Where does Contact At Once! fit into that communication strategy?

JCB: Chat and text are simply different ways to communicate with consumers using our strategic approach. We use Contact At Once! to provide instant gratification, and we have too many text and chat conversations per month to count. So along with the accessibility and convenience of such messaging options, I like having an official solution for compliance purposes.

Consider this: My department receives 1,200-1,300 leads a month, and they are required to text them as part of our follow-up process. At any given point, we are holding 600-700 text conversations…all through Contact At Once! I like how the solution helps us ask for permission, keeps transcripts and allows me to see every conversation my team is having if needed.

Q: You mentioned the importance of using tools (including digital messaging) the right way. How have you gotten team buy-in for automotive chat and text?

JCB: Our theory is that people can shop wherever they want. If they choose us, we are going to capitalize on that chance and use every tool available to engage with them, including chat and text. So if you are working here at Jake Sweeney Chevrolet, you are going to embrace that new technology as a resource and be excited about it. It is all about providing excellence to the consumer.

Q: Speaking of embracing new tech…you recently beta tested a new Contact At Once! feature. Could you share your thoughts?

JCB: Yes, we are using a new feature called Hot Opportunity Transfer (HOT), and we can already attribute at least two of our sales to it. It is also helping us with time management issues and staying connected with prospective buyers. If someone chats in after-hours or while our team is busy, Contact At Once!’s professional messaging experts handle it, then bring us into the conversation directly via text the moment a customer exhibits specific purchase-ready signals.

What I like about it the most is how it helps capture opportunities when we would otherwise be unavailable. HOT keeps us accessible, and our team can jump in when the time is appropriate.

Q: How important do you think it is to keep an eye out for such technology?

JCB: You would hope other dealers would see the value, but some people simply focus on “how we’ve always done it.” The challenge is that things change so rapidly now. We either grow to become what we need to be, or we are not around for very long. For example, cars did not change much for 15-20 years. Now they usually change every two years. Malibu has changed model styles four times in three years!

I have also heard that the global automotive market value is expected to increase from $1.7 trillion to $2.3 trillion from 2013-2018. While my team is #1 in volume in the North Central region, I want more of that trillion-dollar market. To do that in today’s world, I think requires us to be ahead of the curve in every innovation. I want to maximize our opportunities, maximize our closing percentages and provide no bad experiences. That is why I said earlier we use every tool available to engage with people who want to shop with us.

So if dealers do not embrace the technology that will help them meet today’s customers on their own playing field…woe is them, they will fold and we will take over!

“There’s No Escaping Mobile”: What This Property Management Company Is Doing

How Lincoln Property Company Is Using Mobile Messaging

Mobile technology has quietly—but firmly—taken precedence in many of our lives, changing how we think and act and what we expect of others. Just consider what such tech has done in property development and management:

  • You’ve seen it change the way people hunt for apartments.
  • You’ve seen it change what people look for in apartments (like smart-home appliances).
  • And you’re starting to see it change how prospects and residents communicate with those apartment communities. (According to the 2015 “Today’s Online Renter” SatisFacts Research study, 38.1% of residents said they preferred to text with communities, a 10-point jump in preference from 2011.)

Sheri Killingsworth, VP of Marketing and Communications for Lincoln Property Company (LPC), puts it this way: “There’s no escaping the mobile trend. From tours to communication to lease execution and resident portals, everything will only get faster, easier and more readily available from here.”

The challenge is in how you harness such trends and make them work for you.

One thing Sheri and her LPC team are excited about in this regard is Contact At Once! mobile messaging. Here’s a quick glimpse at why this is a growing focus for them:

Q: What drew you to mobile messaging, from property text to chat?

Sheri Killingsworth: I drew from my personal experience and how I prefer to communicate. It’s always easier to catch me on chat or text, so why wouldn’t a lot of our prospects feel the same? Plus, we’re always looking for better results, better systems and better ways to serve our residents and investors. That’s why we’ve started adding Contact At Once!

Q: What’s your overall opinion so far?

SK: While messaging may not be a “necessity” for apartment communities at this point, I do think it’s an invaluable tool. Not only can it help you reach the growing number of prospects who prefer to communicate via text or chat, it can also help you nurture contacts through the know-like-trust stages, well into relationship building.

With that in mind, I really think the Contact At Once! solution can be instrumental in prospect communication and converting leads to leases.

Q: What’s something you’ve learned along the way?

SK: As you might imagine, the biggest challenge with chat is the accessibility of your employees: Are they able to answer chats at any given time? Leasing teams are busy with residents and prospects already, and are often not able to manage a chat conversation at the same time. But I learned that with managed chat and text from Contact At Once!, that issue goes away!

Their professional messaging experts are Fair Housing trained and certified, and they are currently managing all the chat and text conversations for three of our properties. Our leasing teams there don’t have to worry about missing the chance to help a potential future resident.

Contact At Once! internal data support the need for this expert backup: 1 in 4 people searching for a new place to call home engage with properties after hours or on weekends.

Q: Why is mobile and messaging something communities need to pay attention to now…and in the future?

SK: People—not just specific demographics, but all people—almost always turn to their mobile devices first when they want to do something, learn something, find something or go somewhere. It is imperative that we stay where our prospects are or we’ll miss them. That means we need to look into more mobile-friendly ways for people to communicate during and complete the different stages of the leasing process, from discovery to selection and, ultimately, community life.

Is your management company focused on the mobile present…and future? Text or chat with us below to learn how we can help you harness the possibilities.

How Co-Managed Chat & Text Helped These Dealerships Sell More

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You’ve heard the old saying, “Two heads are better than one.” Gailyn Whitman, Business Development Manager, experienced the truth of that statement after adding Contact At Once!’s professional messaging experts to her dealerships’ digital messaging solution. Using the Contact At Once! messaging team to manage conversations when her team wasn’t available provided more consistent chat and text experiences for Lunghamer Chevrolet’s and Lunghamer Buick GMC’s online shoppers, which led to more appointments and sales!

In the first 30 days after changing to the new approach, both dealerships received additional leads from Contact At Once!’s professional messaging experts, respectively selling five vehicles (Chevrolet dealership) and four vehicles (Buick GMC dealership) as a result.

Here’s a quick look at their now more seamless—and more successful—chat and text implementation.

Q: What got your dealership to add chat capabilities in the first place?

Gailyn Whitman: Offering the option to chat (and text) is the new standard. In fact, I think the need for businesses to have such communication is pretty obvious. Today’s modern consumers hate talking on the phone and email is too slow. Texting and chatting allow them to control the speed of the conversation, and quite a few choose to communicate that way. Plus, most consumers do their shopping online. So it only makes sense for customers to be able to interact with sales representatives online as well.

Q: What are some key things your team has done to build success with those chat and text conversations?

GW: When our sales team responds to a chat or text inquiry, the word tracks make it as seamless as a phone call. But our biggest improvement came when we added Contact At Once!’s professional messaging experts. They co-manage our conversations, acting as backup so we catch every conversation and make the entire online experience better. And that has helped us increase the closing percentage!

Q: How does the co-managed chat and text process work at your dealerships?

GW: One thing I like is the professional messaging experts’ quick responses to our prospective buyers. That immediacy lets consumers know we’re available and ready to help! The messaging experts do a great job of assuring customers that an Internet specialist will be with them as soon as possible. This quick response time and gathering of contact information allows my team to provide the best possible customer service. We get the lead notifications from the CRM and respond in 15 minutes or less. We can then continue the conversation however the customer wants: chat, text, phone or email.

Q: What would you say to other dealers who may feel hesitant about using the Contact At Once! messaging experts to help manage their chats or texts?

GW: It’s nice to have that expert backup; it’s only going to help. I carefully watched how the professional messaging experts responded, and they focus on establishing the initial conversation (and the beginning of the relationship) with customers. That helps our team be more prepared and have better, more productive conversations.

I’ll say this: We’ve had more success since we started using Contact At Once! professional messaging experts to chat with our customers. It’s affordable, easy (like having several additional people on our team), and we see great results. We are making money, so it’s a good thing to have!

How a Change in Automotive Chat Mindset Led to a 1,000% ROI Increase

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Sometimes you can have a piece of gold and not even know it. That’s what Dennis Downer of University Audi Lynnwood came to realize about his dealership’s digital messaging solution. He describes how they went from a sales team paying no attention to chat to each staff member now demanding their shot at chat conversations and leads. With a 1,000% ROI increase, it’s no wonder Dennis says chat is a valuable asset to his dealership…but he’s not ready to stop. “We still have a lot of work to do!” he says.

Take a peek at what led to this chat success and how you, like Dennis, could bring more and more online shoppers through the door.

Q: You’ve been in sales management for almost 10 years. What would you say the most challenging part of your job is?

Dennis Downer: The most challenging part of my job is to not ever get comfortable. We have experienced quite a bit of success and have exceeded all of our initial goals. Finding different ways to continue to evolve and grow has become the mission.

Take our Contact At Once! automotive chat solution. We added it five or six years ago because we knew customers should be able to contact us immediately, without having to wait for a response. We realize not everyone has the time during work to pick up the phone and call. Yet chat wasn’t seen as the most important thing by our sales team. Maybe we were too comfortable in the “way things had been done” at first.

Q: So how did you get your sales team to buy into the value of chat?

DD: The success has come strictly from a change in mindset. I wanted to see more value from chat; I believed we could get so much more from it than we were. To get my staff to believe in it too, I managed the chat conversations myself for a couple of months last year. After they saw the possibilities from the leads I was gathering—and how easy the deals were—my team bought into it. Now they fight for the chat lead just as hard as they fight for the phone pop!

Q: What’s the chat process at your dealership now?

DD: All of our salespeople have the ability to manage chats now, so either they answer or I do. And we review every transcript to see how it’s working and what we can improve. Our goal is to get contact information and set up an appointment, so we approach each chat like we approach a sales call. Chat is just as effective as the phone call without the hold times.

Q: How have chat and text contributed to your success in sales?

DD: It just makes things easier for customers. Some people don’t want to call, and sometimes our email response time is too slow for what a customer wants. As a consumer myself, I like the instant contact and use chat when communicating with businesses. Let me put it this way: People on chat prefer chat, and I know that if we didn’t have the option, we’d miss out on sales.

In December we saw a 1,000% return, net. We had 67 total conversations, 35 sales conversations (after our missed chats, service and parts chats, etc.), nine shows and three deals from this solution in that month. With an averaged $2,000 gross and $1,500 in commissions, the money spent for our digital messaging was definitely worth it.

We still have work to do, though, because I want to bring MORE of those chatting consumers into the showroom and convert them to a sale in person. It’s going to require a thorough process, but I know our numbers will increase as we pay more and more attention to it! In fact, we signed on for the Contact At Once! CORE package (with chat and text) because I want our dealership to continue to grow and perform at a high level. More modern communication options for more sales opportunities!

 

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