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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.

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”!

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


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.

Contact At Once! Messaging Extends to Google My Business

It’s a fact of life that before they buy, people research online (and most use Google). The search giant is making it easier and easier for consumers to connect with the businesses they’re researching, too—first with Google AdWords click-to-message ads and most recently with Google My Business messaging!

Contact At Once! can help you manage all the resulting consumer messages from these different Google placements. In fact, we’ve been piloting an API integration on Google My Business for months now with several brands.

Let’s break it down into the important facts that matter to you…

What Google My Business Messaging Means

Google My Business pages are free local listings that make it easy for potential customers to learn more about your company and take the next step. These prospects are usually lower in the funnel, searching for a company by name or by “xxxx near me.” (According to Google, searches for businesses “near me” increased 34x from 2011 to 2014, and 80% came from mobile in Q4 2014.)

In other words, they’re likely to take action. Soon. And now, once these mobile users get to your Google My Business listing, they can start a text conversation:

  • If you’ve set up this option, consumers will see a “Message” button in your Google My Business listing.*
  • Consumers tap to message, starting a text conversation in their phone’s native messaging app.
  • Remember: Google masks the numbers of both company and consumer for privacy. You can still message back and forth, but don’t treat the number you see as the consumer’s mobile number.
*Currently, this feature is only available in the U.S.; however, deployment in other countries is anticipated.

How to Use Contact At Once! + Google My Business Messaging Integration

Instead of relying on a single person to handle these text conversations, use Contact At Once! to manage it all! Here are some tips:

  • Use our text integration – Our integration lets you use a text number provided by Contact At Once!, so you can manage the resulting Google My Business conversations in the same platform/app you use for the rest of your chats/texts across the web. (So your first step is to ensure you have a text number from Contact At Once!)
  • Easy setup – Google provides step-by-step instructions here: Basically, once you sign in to your account, look for the “Messaging” card in the Home menu and type in the text number provided by Contact At Once!. Google will send a verification code to you (to confirm the number is working), and you can find the text message with that code in the Mobile Text Connect Details report* in the Contact At Once! Portal.
    *Remember that Google assigns you a proxy number, so the verification code will appear to be sent to/from a number other than the one you provided.
  • Business as usual – Your team will receive and respond to the resulting text conversations through the same Contact At Once! processes, platform and answering apps you currently use. And if our messaging experts respond on your behalf, they’ll continue to do so—no matter if the messaging conversation starts from your website or Google My Business!
  • Update the consumer profile – Because Google hides consumer numbers, it’s smart to ask the person you’re texting with to confirm their mobile number (if you intend to capture it as part of the lead).

As people get used to seeing the “Message” option on these listings, engagement will rise. We already know consumers like the convenience mobile messaging provides! Contact At Once! is ready to help you meet those increased inquiries and impress consumers with your attentive, helpful responses.

Pump Up the Volume: How to Increase Consumer Engagement

You’ve been chatting and/or texting with customers for a while now, and you’re loving it. You’re one of the thousands who have discovered your customers would rather message than call or email! In fact, messaging is their #1 choice for communicating with brands (more than 75% preferred it over phone or email in this survey).

So how do you pump up the customer conversation volume to get even MORE incoming messages?

Check out these ideas on encouraging engagement—and hopefully close more deals as a result:

#1 – Be “Present”

Before consumers can reach out via messaging, they have to know the option is there. Then they need someone to respond when they do chat or text. Aiming for always-on presence can help you with both!

The goal is to have someone available to message with customers on your company’s behalf whenever they reach out. (Hint: our co-managed or fully managed options make this easy!) Not only is immediate availability the best customer experience—which can encourage more use—it can also mean that your chat invitations are delivered to more people, boosting potential volume. At least, that’s the case if you use presence-aware chat invitations, which only display if someone is there to respond instantly, reducing consumer frustration.

#2 – Connect on Shopping Sites & Google My Business

You can also increase messaging volume by deploying chat and text options beyond your website. If you list inventory on,,,, etc., take advantage of the ad packages that include chat and text. Extend your messaging to Google My Business while you’re at it—we can even activate it for you. After all, the more connections you make, the more sales conversations you can have!

Not sure if the classifieds site you use offers messaging? Ask! Many of them do, and you’ll likely use Contact At Once! to manage all the resulting conversations.

#3 – Enhance & Expand Messaging with Our Partners

Take a look at Contact At Once!’s partner integrations, too. Many of these tech partners integrate our chat into their products, so if you’re a mutual customer, you could engage consumers in more places! For example, one integration helps you manage Facebook Messenger, another lets you add chat links Digital Air Strike’s ResponseLogix SmartQuote™, and yet another adds chat options to eLEND Solutions’ CreditPlus program.

#4 – Add Text Messaging Everywhere

Take the Mobile Text Connect number you get with Contact At Once! and put it…well, everywhere! You’re not stuck with a tap-to-text button on mobile or desktop sites. You can put the number on print/TV/radio ads, billboards or window stickers, promote it at the front desk and add it to your pay-per-click campaigns (Google AdWords). The more places you add text, the better your chances at reaching the shoppers who are ready to take action that way.

Hint: You can even purchase additional text numbers and dedicate them to different advertising campaigns for better attribution.

#5 – Consider the Look, Feel & Placement

Along with adding messaging in more places, double-check the calls to action on your own desktop/mobile site: Have you checked to ensure you’re using the latest, most updated options from your provider? Is the invitation to chat or text appearing in the right location (and in the right color) to attract clicks?

The following designer advice may come in handy:

  • Position smartly. Bottom right is where the eye naturally lands (for the Western world), so invitations that appear in that position seem to get more attention.
  • Less is more. You might think flashy animation looks cool; however, animation can sometimes come across as a pop-up ad. Be subtle so the engagement feels more like a natural part of the website experience.
  • Try to blend with your website colors. For example, use a contrasting (or accent color) to grab more attention. You want the call to chat or text to stand out while still being a part of site design.
  • Photos are key (even if subconsciously)! People often feel more comfortable asking questions when they can see who they’re talking to on the other end.

After all, even though most consumers prefer to message, we have to make that action easily noticeable and accessible wherever they are! Are you ready to turn up the volume and get more from your messaging?


6 Reasons to Build a Business Messaging Network

If you’ve been around Contact At Once! for any length of time, you’ve heard us talk about the “messaging network.” No, it’s not a secret society. It’s not a garage band. The network refers to how we link multiple touch points together for you, giving you easier access to customers and the resulting data. (Much cooler than a secret society, in my mind!)

What’s in a Network?

Think about how consumers (including yourself) research big-ticket items, from cars to homes or apartments. Think about how they find or hear about your company. Almost all the resources used during those processes can be turned into interaction points with Contact At Once! messaging. That’s what we call the messaging network.

In other words, you can enable people to chat, text or message with you from…

Click image above to see the messaging network explained in an infographic.

The advantages of tying all these touch points together are powerful. Here are a few of our favorites:

#1: Help Shoppers Take Action

People search, compare, ask questions and schedule appointments whenever and wherever it’s most convenient. Easily found tap-to-text or chat options on all your sites and ads will help you interact at shoppers’ most impressionable moments.

#2: Guide Shoppers Earlier in the Process

Adding messaging to your classifieds and other advertising may help you reach shoppers before they’ve decided on your company. The convenience of a messaging conversation here can lead to increased inquiries, which can convert into leads, leases and sales.

#3: At-Your-Service Attention Wherever Consumers Find You

Adding messaging options in all those places means shoppers can get prompt responses to questions. This gives them more chances to “preview” the level of service they can expect should they become a customer.

#4: Include Company Departments Within Your Network

Mobile sites adding Contact At Once! messaging have shown engagement increases of up to 40%. Why restrict that to a single department like sales? For example, automotive dealerships can dedicate messaging channels—a specific text-enabled number, a unique “Chat with Service” button—to help fixed ops departments connect with service customers. Funneling those inquiries to the right team provides a better experience (and increased team efficiency).

#5: Track Your Advertising Spend

When you add Contact At Once! to advertising, you can tell which source encourages the most conversations. For classified listings that offer chat or tap-to-text options, you can see the originating URL for each conversation (or review the Contact Source report). You can also place dedicated text-enabled numbers in various locations, from Google pay-per-click to print, radio and TV advertisements. All the resulting text conversations will flow through your Contact At Once! platform and processes…and you can filter reports by text number.

#6: Streamline Management for Increased Efficiency

A messaging network can minimize the learning curve and training costs for your company, too. Instead of juggling one system to chat with a shopper from Autotrader, another one to chat or text from your website, and yet another for those texts from Google ads, you can do it all with Contact At Once! One system and app to learn means more time for your teams to focus on the sales and service they do best.

Consumers are ready to message across the network of sites and ads that make up the shopping path. Will your company be there, ready to help?

(Post updated November 6, 2017)

How to Transfer an MTC Text Conversation

Oh, look at that! You just received an incoming text message from a consumer. Now’s your chance to be super helpful and answer their questions. As you text back and forth and help them narrow their options, they are subconsciously trusting your advice more and more.

But what if they text in asking to speak with a different department or if you need to connect them with a manager?

It’s easy with Contact At Once! Just transfer the conversation.* Of course, to transfer between departments (like from sales to service), you first need to have that option available (and configured) within your Contact At Once! package. Ask our Support Team if you’re not sure.

Mobile App: Transfer Texts to Agents or Departments

  1. Send a message to the consumer, letting them know you’re going to transfer the conversation to the person they requested.
  2. Tap the “Actions” menu (3 vertical dots on top right).
  3. Tap “Transfer Conversation.”
  4. Select the agent or department to whom you want to transfer the text conversation.

Desktop App: Transfer Texts to Agents or Departments

  1. Send a message to the consumer, letting them know you’re going to transfer the conversation to the person they requested.
  2. Look to the top right of your desktop app window where the gray circle buttons are, and click the “T.” (It should say “Transfer” below the button.)
  3. Scroll through the “Transfer List” that will pop up. This shows all the people—and the different departments if eligible—who can accept the text message at your company.
  4. Choose the person/department and click “Transfer.”

From here, the Contact At Once! Mobile Text Connect system takes over, connecting the customer (let’s call her “Jill”) with your colleague as requested (let’s call him “Jim”). To confirm it’s happened, Jill will get a text message saying her conversation has been transferred to Jim. Even if Jim isn’t available to reply immediately, the system will reassure Jill that he’s been notified and will respond as soon as possible.

When Jim’s done helping Jill, he can even transfer the conversation back to you if needed!

*Note: This feature is only supported in desktop app versions 5.4 and higher AND mobile app versions 4.1 and higher. If you don’t see the Transfer option, you may simply need to update your app. (Just ask Support if you need help).

Solve This Common Service Follow-Up Challenge with Text

hang up the phone

I’m willing to bet that 9 out of 10 service managers have team members who’ve experienced the following (and hate it):

  • A service advisor calls a customer to provide an update, remind them about recommended work they initially declined, or follow up about something else.
  • The customer doesn’t answer. Not surprising. Who answers their phone nowadays?
  • The service advisor begins leaving a voicemail.
  • Meanwhile, the service advisor is paged (on the overhead PA or on their literal pager) and told that the customer he/she is currently leaving a message for is on another line.

Imagine that happening multiple times a day. Imagine how inefficient it is.

That said, service follow-up is very important, and it’s often one of the KPIs that service departments are measured on. And for good reason! Automotive News interviewed a dealer who focuses on this type of follow-up and produces 2 – 5 extra service appointments per week.

So you know your service department needs to consistently follow up with customers. You also know that when customers don’t answer the call, the perception is that your follow-up performance is poor.

Text messaging may be the answer to better follow-up connections.

Imagine if the advisor in the above example had spent 3 – 5 minutes sending multiple outbound follow-up texts instead of calling. Not only would it be more efficient, it’s what the majority of consumers say they prefer: 76% of car buyers in our 2016 Consumer Survey said they’d prefer to message with businesses rather than talk on the phone. In addition, 77% of car shoppers in that survey said they’re likely to message with the business that services their car.

Will that include you? I sure hope so!

How to Better Track Texts From Google AdWords (& Other Advertising) Campaigns

Man searching

In late 2016, Google made it possible for consumers to text with you from pay-per-click (PPC) advertising in mobile search results. Pretty cool, huh? Contact At Once! clients are in the perfect position to take advantage of this new placement, too, especially with our latest reporting enhancement.

How the Google Integration Works

First, a quick reminder about how you can use Contact At Once! with your Google PPC campaigns:

  • If you have Contact At Once! text messaging options on your website, you have an eligible text-enabled number. Note: This is your “Mobile Text Connect” or “MTC” number.
  • You can add that MTC number to a Google AdWords campaign, creating a click-to-message ad extension. Here are Google’s step-by-step directions.
  • All text messages and resulting leads will flow through your existing Contact At Once! platform and processes.

How Our Reporting Helps Attribution

Contact At Once! helps you better track the performance of those AdWords campaigns, too. Sure, Google tracks your ad up to the click of the text message option. But we track after that click, giving you a better sense of if that click and resulting conversation turns into a real lead, a visit and eventually a paying customer. This helps you to see which Google Adwords campaigns are generating the most valuable conversions!

There are a couple of ways Contact At Once! makes this easy:

  • Additional MTC numbers – We can supply unique numbers for each AdWords campaign. Interested? Just ask via the chat or text options on this site.
  • Mobile Text Connect Detail report – This shows you the captured consumer information, who answered, timing, the entire transcript and more for all text conversations at your company.
  • New sorting capabilities – Now you can sort and filter this report by MTC number, allowing you to tie the report results to the exact AdWords campaign!

How to Access the Report

Your Contact At Once! admin can schedule this report to deliver via email automatically or just view it in the Contact At Once! portal as needed:

  • To view the report at any time, the admin clicks on the “Reports” tab in the Contact At Once! portal and chooses “Mobile Text Connect Detail.”
  • To schedule the report, the admin simply scrolls to the bottom of the Mobile Text Connect Detail page, clicks “Schedule Report” and chooses to whom and how often they want it sent.

Happy texting!