Contact At Once!

Archive for the ‘Mobile Messaging’ Category

How This Digital Marketing Director Increased Engagement with Messaging

The ability to text and chat one on one allows for a more transparent buying and fixed operations process, which can increase consumer engagement when used correctly. That’s exactly what Apple Automotive has done with their approach to Contact At Once! messaging (increasing their text conversations by 13%).

Apple Automotive, a group with over 12 brands and 10 stores located throughout York County, Pennsylvania, operates in a distinctly different culture: The dealership teams earn each customer interaction and transaction through honesty and transparency. We talked to Maria Fry, Director of Digital Marketing Operations for the Apple Automotive Group, who says that the Contact At Once! messaging program has been a great fit for their culture.

“At Apple Automotive, we feel it’s important to create a ‘warm and fuzzy’ experience,” explains Fry. “Messaging gives us the ability to reach auto shoppers on their terms, and that’s an important start to the whole experience. By using Contact At Once! and bringing consumer awareness to this option, we have seen an increase in engagement at each of our stores.”

Below we dig more into the benefits they’ve seen and how they have increased use by making texting part of their strategy.

Q: Why is messaging like text and chat an important communication option to offer?

Maria Fry: It’s really about adding another option for shoppers to connect from their desktop or smartphone. With CAO! messaging, consumers can initiate conversations with us and start talking about car sales in a way that feels less intrusive … and more like chatting with a friend.

In addition, we’re able to tie several of our customer-facing touchpoints to CAO!, helping us reach more people, manage those engagements and keep track of them at each store. Along with text and chat on our sites, we’ve added extensions in Google AdWords for texting and integrated Facebook Messenger so those conversations come through the same CAO! platform.

Q: What do you think is important to see good results from messaging? What are some of the things your team has done beyond offering the option everywhere (which is a great first step!)?

MF: If you want to grow consumer awareness and use, you have to tell people that they have the ability to chat. We do that in a variety of ways across social media and ads.

For example, we promote CAO! messaging with our ‘Warm and Fuzzy’ text campaign, which has been running for about six months and includes the placement of a ‘Text 2 Chat’ ad at the top of each store’s inventory website page. It was important for us to be clear what the next step was (texting), so we kept the ad design clean, used a message button, made each store’s phone number very large, and we used patriotic colors to help make the ad stand out on each dealer’s independent website.

We also use website rotators and banners and traditional advertising—like our electronic billboards in each store’s auto park—to promote the ability to text with us. We even share information on our social media platforms about all the ways consumers can message with us, and I feel that helps with engagement. Messaging interactions also increased after some design changes to our websites, which made them cleaner and easier to use (so the option to chat or text was easier to see).

Q: What kind of results have you seen that you can attribute to messaging?

MF: We are more of a rural town, but month-to-month engagement numbers are going up, so we know messaging is gaining more ground! Over the course of the year, engagement and interactions are up, too. Other positive outcomes of messaging include easing the buying process for shoppers. People are less willing to fill out forms, so with messaging we’re able to capture information without forms.

Because Apple Automotive dedicated a text number to their advertising campaign, we are able to track an increase in consumer engagement attributable to those efforts: Their group text conversations are up by 13% over the last few months. The more conversations you have, the more opportunities you can capture to turn into leads and cars sold!

Reach More Automotive Shoppers with Apple Business Chat & Contact At Once!

 

It’s easier than ever for over 700 million iPhone users to connect with your company directly, thanks to Apple Business Chat beta.

Why is this important? Easier connections with Business Chat mean more connections, which can mean more potential leads, deals and service appointments—all of which you can manage in Contact At Once! (CAO!).

How this new messaging channel works

On its site, Apple refers to Business Chat as a way that makes “connecting with your favorite companies as easy as texting your favorite people.” They’ve simplified how consumers can find and start conversations with businesses of all kinds:

  • Participating brands get “message us” buttons beside their listings that consumers can find when they search on Safari, Maps, Siri and Spotlight. (They can also place a button on their website.)
  • With one tap—and without even having to visit the company’s site or ad— consumers can start a conversation, right within their native Messages app.

Basically, it puts your company on every iOS user’s speed dial or Favorites list (except it’s better because they message instead of call).

How you could make this experience even better

In addition, Business Chat connections can be more than simple SMS text messages. You can work with your messaging platform (like Contact At Once!) to develop a richer experience that delights consumers with its usefulness and convenience. Consider these following examples:

  • Get on consumers’ calendars – With Business Chat, customers could schedule their service appointments, test drives and more (confirming and adding it to their own calendar to ensure there are no conflicts).
  • Route conversations per consumer choice – A built-in app can present lists of options for shoppers to choose from (like sales or service), helping your answering team be more effective.
  • Integrate apps for added power – Have a brand app? Consider creating an iMessage app extension. Consumers can then download your app and interact with it directly from within your Business Chat conversation.
  • Future Feature: Add ease to service & parts payments – Eventually, CAO! could even help you incorporate Apple Pay into your service experience (or wherever else you see fit). With this future feature, customers could potentially check out from within their Business Chat conversation – no need to wait at the counter even longer.

How Contact At Once! can help you harness this power

In order to join this new messaging channel, you have to register for a Business Chat ID and get approved by Apple. One of the requirements is your use of a customer service platform that supports Business Chat, like CAO! Business Chat conversations flow through your chosen platform, so if you use CAO!…

  • You can manage all messaging channels in one place – You can use the CAO! platform to manage all your conversational commerce connections, from Apple Business Chat to messages from your websites, mobile apps, social and advertising. Why juggle multiple systems?
  • You can use powerful selling tools – When shoppers ask questions, your team should be able to quickly share detailed information and securely capture any resulting leads. CAO! helps with built-in inventory feeds, vehicle history reports and consumer profile widgets that track to your CRM.
  • You can “Tango” for answering help – Do you Tango? If not, you may want to start now! Direct customers of CAO! can use our Live Advisors to respond on their behalf whenever needed, including nurturing consumers along the buying and service paths. This ensures your responses are prompt and consistent, which helps create the kind of experience consumers crave.

More and more companies are using Business Chat to lower the barrier to consumer connections and make those interactions as sticky as possible. CAO! is ready to help you be next.

Infographic: Google My Business Fuels Conversational Commerce for Dealers

Consumers who use Google My Business to message dealers indicate they are open to digital retailing, and many are using natural language as their interface of choice to seek information in finding new vehicles, appraising their car or scheduling an oil change.

LivePerson’s automotive division, Contact At Once! (CAO!), recently analyzed the conversations of 27,000 Google My Business messages for 300 car dealers in North America, and it is clear that shoppers and owners use the “Message” button to accelerate their path to the dealership.

See the infographic here, get a printable version or keep scrolling!

What Car Shoppers & Owners Are Asking

Most consumers who messaged via Google My Business had done some research online, and 1 in 5 inquired about vehicle availability. While we weren’t surprised that vehicle availability was the most popular type of message, we were surprised that car shoppers messaged for information that could easily be found online. Questions like “Interest in a blk on blk QX60 Lux do u have one available” indicate that the comfort level we see consumers having with Conversational Commerce in other industries is bleeding over into automotive. (These quotes are actual Google My Business consumer inquiries, unedited for authenticity.)

Pricing questions were the second most popular type of message, with most conversations occurring on “best price” or down payment needs. Service pricing accounted for 11.5% of all pricing conversations. As with vehicle availability, pricing messages resembled the Conversational Commerce trends we see in other industries, as consumers gain comfort in truncating the buying process with a messaging channel. Questions to dealers could often be as specific as, “What is the price. of Jeep Grand Cherokee 2017. Must be one owner a guaranteed not to have been in flood water.”

Conversations on trade-ins were often equally as specific, such as, “I have a 2016 Toyota Camry that i would like to trade in with this Honda Accord. what should or need to do before trade in.”

What These Conversations Mean for You

Overall, car shoppers and owners are becoming extremely comfortable in conversationally communicating their needs during the shopping process. For example, 6.0% of the conversations were about seating options and 5.5% were requests for more pictures. So, despite the terabytes of automotive data available online, car shoppers and owners are signaling they are very interested in interacting with dealers conversationally, just as they do on the phone or in person.

CAO! can help you quickly leverage Google My Business messaging for more conversations with shoppers and owners with these 3 steps:

  1. If missing, we will add the “Message” button to your Google My Business listing.
  2. You then can manage Google My Business messages alongside your other chats/texts/messages in CAO! Connect, your dealership conversation management platform.
  3. Our Live Advisors will answer all messages when your staff is not available, aka our “automotive tango” approach (where our teams work in concert to give your shoppers quick responses).

Providing dealers with the Google My Business “Message” functionality is just one way we power Conversational Commerce for car dealers. Stay tuned for future posts on messaging trends on third-party automotive websites, Facebook and dealer websites.

In the meantime, please enjoy our “Google My Business Fuels Conversational Commerce for Dealers” infographic below. (Printable version here)

NOTE: Access a printable version right here.

*Quotes in this article are actual Google My Business consumer inquiries as written (no editing provided for authenticity).

Contact At Once! Takes Its 60 Millionth Message

On Wednesday, August 15, 2018, at a little after 4:00pm, we reached another milestone in Contact At Once! history. We logged our 60 millionth message.

It’s no wonder we hit 60 million messaging conversations this year. Conversational commerce is on the rise, with consumers relying more and more on chat, text and messaging to get farther down the purchase path, get repair orders in…perhaps even pay for those.

Proud of the Past & Excited for the Future

Back in 2005, the idea for Contact At Once! was born and development began. In 2006, we pioneered the use of live chat in automotive advertising, our founders literally driving around Atlanta and knocking on dealers’ doors. Today, we have a global messaging network of dealers, manufacturers and automotive advertising/search sites numbering 16,000+…and handling millions of those messages each year.

As Denise Chudy, our General Manager, says in the video above, we couldn’t have done this without the amazing support of our clients—the thousands of dealerships who rely on us to help them connect in the most efficient, consumer-preferable way and the automakers who choose us to help their brand-loyal shoppers find the way to a dealer from their Tier 1 sites.

We also want to thank the Contact At Once! team that has made this possible. About 125 employees are located here in Alpharetta, GA, and others in the UK, Canada and across the states work hard to make messaging a reality for our thousands of clients.

And we’re just getting started. Stay tuned for more exciting developments!

Contact At Once!’s New Web-Based App: Connect Like Never Before

It’s now even easier for your team to connect and converse with shoppers via Contact At Once! That’s because we’ve launched CAO! Connect, a new, web-based answering app. If you haven’t jumped on it yet, now’s the time!

New Things to Love

Connect replaces your desktop app, and there’s no download needed. Just open a browser and log in. Keep the Connect tab open in the background as you work, and you’ll get in-browser notifications whenever conversations come in.

Speaking of those conversations, you can now…

Easily see where shoppers come from

Connect’s dashboard shows you, at a glance, which messaging channel shoppers are using (chat, text, Facebook Messenger) AND where each conversation originates (your site, advertising sites, OEM sites, Facebook, etc.)

Search & share inventory, vehicle history reports & more

Agents can pull up this information within Connect to answer specific questions, share inventory recommendations, CarFax / CarProof vehicle history reports and more to come! These tools can help you guide shoppers down the purchase path.

Translate in real time

Have a multilingual customer base? Your agents can type in the language they’re most comfortable with, and Connect will translate it to the language of the shopper (12+ languages supported). Agents will see both languages presented; the consumer will only see the conversation in their language.

Share rich media previews

This enhanced video and rich media support displays a preview of the shared content directly in the conversation window. Tapping that preview will either open the content to play in a slide-out window or open a new web browser tab.

One Important Tip

Make it part of your morning routine to open your browser, log in to Connect and leave that tab open. Since Connect is a browser-based app, you need to so in order to receive messages. (It won’t do it for you automatically.)

Set a reminder, write a post-it note—whatever it takes! You might also want to set your mobile app to keep you logged in there, too, just in case you forget.

How to Get Started

Ready to put these (and more!) messaging capabilities to work for you? We’ve enabled Connect for all of our customers. So if you don’t have your login yet, it’s easy!

  • New customers will automatically get set up with Connect.
  • If you’re an existing customer, your admin (the person who manages your CAO! account) can “migrate” your agents (the people who answer the chats/texts) in the Portal. Here are the steps!
  • Once agents are migrated, they will each receive an email with details on how to log in and start answering through Connect.
  • You can chat or text with us for help or more information, right on this site, too!

And don’t forget the training that will help you learn the new answering app layout and capabilities: Admin training and agent training are available online at your convenience!

We hope you enjoy this new way to “Connect”!

How to Answer the “Is This Vehicle Available” Question via Chat or Text

large inventory of vehicles in stock

Recently, an acquaintance told the story of chatting with a car dealer about a specific vehicle. Excited to find exactly what she was looking for, she asked the agent, “Is this vehicle available?” The answer: “Sorry, no.” End of chat.

With over 10 years of chats under our belts, we at Contact At Once! have plenty of data. After reviewing that data, we found that the Number One Reason consumers chat is to find out if your inventory is still in stock. In fact, 24% of all conversations revolve around that question.

But are you answering correctly? Have you trained your team for this? Are you ready? (I won’t call out any names, but I’m afraid that the answer is “no” for a great many of you!)

3 Tips to Keep the Conversation Going

If you have the vehicle they’re asking about, the answer is simple: “Yes.” If that car was just sold, though, it’s another story. The key is saying no in a positive way…and that may require a little proactive digging on your part. Here are some ideas to help:

  1. Resist the urge to answer quickly with “No.” Even if you’re prepared to offer something else, they may not stick around to see your next message.
  2. Ask a question of your own to buy time. Along with reassuring the shopper that you’re double-checking the inventory for them, ask what they like best about that vehicle. That may help you gather a list of wants and needs to help with point #3 below.
  3. Take a moment to find an alternative before you respond. Review your inventory and find a similar vehicle based on what they were looking for (and why they liked it). Then suggest that other vehicle in your response.

You may find that another vehicle meets their requirements and results in a sale due to your quick thinking and persuasion!

Check out this blog for additional tips on having a great conversation via web or mobile messaging.

Are You Getting the Message?: Connect With Consumers the Way They Want

In today’s mobile-driven society, consumers have an array of different channels at their fingertips to reach out to businesses and providers. Most people think of these common options: 1-800 number (if you’re desperate), email (if you want to wait) and live chat. While the automotive industry has adopted live chat in large numbers, still only about half the U.S. dealer market offers the capability to consumers. If we’re being totally honest, most of us probably wish consumers would just put down the mobile phone and come to the showroom, right?

But they won’t.

Messaging Is Now an Essential: What Does This Mean for Business?

Whether a consumer is seeking information about an upcoming car purchase or vehicle service need, he or she will use the communication channel that best suits them in the moment. In a consumer study done by Contact At Once! involving 1,000 recent auto purchasers or near-term intenders, nearly 80% said they’re likely to message (chat or text) during the research and shopping phases. More than two-thirds said they would use messaging to schedule appointments and even to help finalize purchases.

So, what’s involved in developing a messaging strategy? It starts with a stop. Stop thinking of the way “Contact Us” has traditionally been done (nope, no one is going to fax) and start thinking about how consumers are communicating right now. As a matter of fact, you’re a consumer: how do your conversations happen most often these days? It probably involves a combination of chat, phone, social and, of course, text.

And that’s what car shoppers and purchasers said they do too. In another consumer study we recently did, the majority of consumers said they’d rather chat about an auto-related question when they’re using a computer or a tablet. A little over 40 percent said they’d call if they were on a mobile phone and one-third said they’d text.

Here Are Things to Think About:

  • Do you have a chat platform? Even with a wide variety of other options available, live chat is still one of the most-preferred communication avenues today. In fact, 44% of shoppers noted that one of the most critical features a company can provide is a live chat specialist to help facilitate online purchases.
  • Can consumers easily (and legally) text you? Text messaging is incredibly popular among all age groups today—globally mobile device users send more than 18 million texts every single day, but there are compliance considerations, opt-outs and more that have to be ironed out.
  • Do you have an app? If so, embedding messaging allows consumers and customers to connect with you without ever leaving the app, making it simple for the consumer and improving stickiness for your app.
  • Are you using Facebook Messenger, Facebook Marketplace, Google My Business and Google Adwords? Silly question…of course, you are. And because you are, you should enable messaging in all of them, then funnel the conversations through your chat and text platform.

Why is that important? Consistency of message, fast response, tracked/documented conversations and capture of lead information are all critical components of an effective social and search messaging strategy.

As you can see, messaging includes a host of platforms and technologies that your customers are currently using. Now, it’s your turn to get in there and start connecting! At Contact At Once! and LivePerson, we call that conversational commerce – engaging with consumers whenever, wherever and however it suits them when they’re in a shopping moment.

You’ll find that it increases the number of meaningful interactions you’re having, that consumers actually value the ability to message vs. phone tag or email and you can toss that fax machine. Now, that’s a relief!

See How We Can Help

 

What Is Messaging? Connecting with Customers Beyond Chat

In today’s customer service landscape, consumers have an array of different channels at their fingertips to reach businesses. Most people think of these common options: 1-800 number (if you’re desperate), email (if you want to wait) and live chat. Chat—the ability to send real-time communications via a website or mobile platform—certainly has its advantages. But it isn’t the only avenue customers could use to get a hold of you and your business quickly and conveniently.

In other words, automotive brands, dealerships and other companies need to embrace messaging, not just live chat.

Customer Communication: Preferences Are Changing

Years ago, simply having a contact center through which customers could place service calls or inquiries was sufficient. Shoppers have drastically changed their communication preferences, however. In fact, 67% of consumers reported hanging up the phone after making a call to contact a business, terminating the connection after being frustrated that they could not reach a real person.

Plus, talking just isn’t the preferred interaction for many. Customers now prefer digital messaging capabilities over traditional telephone calls, per this IDC InfoBrief. Not supporting these channels could end up costing your company considerably—one study from Lee Resources found that over 90% of shoppers would not do business with a company again if they weren’t happy with their experience the first time.

Messaging Is Now an Essential: What Does This Mean for Business?

In this way, providing more complete messaging capabilities is now a requirement for communications across industries. Whether a consumer is seeking information about an upcoming car purchase or vehicle service need, he or she must be able to use the communication channel that best suits his or her tastes.

But what does messaging actually entail? Today’s retailers and service providers must have a more holistic messaging solution in place that encompasses all of the top communication channels, including:

  • Chat: Even with a wide variety of other options available, live chat is still one of the most-preferred communication avenues today. In fact, 44% of shoppers noted that one of the most critical features a company can provide is a live chat specialist to help facilitate online purchases.
  • Text: Text messaging is incredibly popular among all age groups today—global mobile device users send more than 18 million texts every single day. A powerful way to capture customers is enabling them to text you using their own native text application, providing a familiar and easy-to-use platform for customer service communication.
  • In-app messaging: While many brands and large groups now have their own mobile apps or owners’ apps, not all of these support in-application messaging. If they did, customers would be able to communicate with the company without having to leave the app and that can boost customer satisfaction (a major telecoms carrier saw a 4-point increase in 2 months).
  • Facebook Messenger (& Marketplace): Now that social media plays such an important role in marketing and customer outreach efforts, it’s imperative that consumers be able to connect with your business through this route as well.
  • Apple Business Chat: In order to remain on the cutting edge of customer service and communication, brands need to look forward to emerging channels as well. Apple Business Chat could represent the next big thing here, and will be released in 2018. Auto manufacturers need to be working on a strategy now.

Messaging doesn’t just include live chat, but a whole host of other messaging platforms that your customers are currently using. Your company needs a system that will help it easily integrate and manage these channels from a single, streamlined portal.

This is where the Contact At Once! messaging network comes into play. It supports all of these communication channels, and allows customer service reps to connect with customers and take part in conversations across an array of platforms.

To find out more, check out our infographic or message us below!

Why We Can’t Shut Up About the “Messaging Network”

 

Today’s car shopping path is more complex than ever. People research across brand and dealer sites, Google searches and Facebook Marketplace, aggregate search sites, review sites and more. In fact, Google followed one shopper throughout 139 searches that could have given brands and dealers over 200 interaction opportunities…had they been ready.

Would you have been ready?

Car shoppers can interact with your company in so many places now because messaging makes it easy. Hundreds of conversations could come in from dozens of channels, but you could be using a single platform to manage them all…if you set up a messaging network. Contact At Once! makes this possible.

Click the infographic below for more details:

Hot Opportunity Transfer: See How It Works

Despite your best intentions, it’s almost impossible to be instantly available 24/7—especially when you’re already busy helping people buy your products. That’s why we created the Hot Opportunity Transfer (HOT) feature.

HOT allows us to buffer your team from shoppers chatting in with more general questions. (We can usually handle those on your behalf.) Yet when a shopper gives off buying signals, we can push them into a direct text conversation with your team for the best experience. After all, no one knows your company better!

The goal is to give your team more flexibility and help you capture more sales opportunities…whenever they come.

Check out the above video to see how HOT could work for your dealership.