Contact At Once!

Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

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 Autotrader.com, Cars.com, CycleTrader.com, NewHomeSource.com, 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?

 

Hot Opportunity Transfer: Are You “Hot” or Not?

Will all the HOT dealers please stand up? No, I’m not talking about who looks good today (I promise).

I’m talking about those who’ve taken advantage of our Hot Opportunity Transfer (HOT) capability, a standard feature for dealerships on our Professional package. The combination of chat, text and a co-managed implementation allows Contact At Once! messaging experts to connect customers who are giving purchase-ready signals directly to HOT-enabled sales reps at the dealership. Basically, our team weeds out the tire-kickers and introduces the serious buyers to your serious sellers.

For the most effectiveness, though, you want to set up the right HOT team. And we’re here to help!

Who Is HOT Material?

Not everyone gets to be a “designated hottie,” so to speak. Some dealerships only set up their hungriest sales reps because handling HOT leads is a big responsibility. These people will receive push notifications about a serious buyer from the Contact At Once! mobile app, pick up the text conversation ASAP, and hopefully seal the deal. And they’ll get more chances to do so!

But as I mentioned, with great power comes great responsibility: You have to be ready to answer those consumers anytime, anywhere. In other words, the best HOT agent is…

  • A go-getter.
  • An intelligent and excellent closer.
  • A tech-savvy salesperson who takes advantage of Contact At Once! and uses our mobile app wherever he/she can.

How to Designate a “Hottie”

Let’s say you’re a Contact At Once! admin. Once you or your director identify your best, hungriest closers, it’s your job to officially designate them as hotties (HOT agents):

  1. Log into the Contact At Once! portal.
  2. Click “Provisioning” and tap “Provision Agent.”
  3. From here, you can edit the agent you want to identify as HOT.
  4. Simply open that agent’s profile, and click the “Hot Leads” option toward the bottom.
  5. Click “Save,” and you’ve just designated your first HOT agent!

OK, You’re HOT. Now What?

If you’ve been tapped as a HOT agent, it’s an honor. You’re going to be trusted with the more serious potential buyers, people who need your dealership expertise. And that means you’ll get more opportunities to sell vehicles! Here are three best practices to make the most of it:

  • Always use the latest version of the Contact At Once! mobile app. (Keep a close eye on your app store.)
  • Be attentive. You may get a push notification in the middle of the day or at night, whenever a HOT lead is identified. That’s the perfect chance to wow the buyer with speedy responses and convince them to come in.
  • Read the transcript before responding. You can see what the buyer and the Contact At Once! messaging expert were chatting about earlier right in the app. (It’s part of the text conversation you’re now replying to, just in a darker color.) This will let you continue the conversation without making the buyer repeat anything!

With Contact At Once! as the front lines and the right team of HOT dealer agents ready to seal the deal, your dealership can set a scorching record this summer.

Got more HOT questions? Chat or text with us below!

4 Contact At Once! Reports That Gut-Check Your Messaging

Ahhhh, the Contact At Once! portal. For some of you, having all this detailed data at your fingertips is heaven. Or maybe you’re a “big picture” sort of person and want to get in and out a little more quickly. Either way, our goal is to make this easy for you, so take a deep breath and let’s take a look under the hood.

There’s a lot of information in our portal, especially for the Contact At Once! admins. You can really dig in and get valuable insight into what is happening with your company’s messaging performance because we believe in showing you the whole story (not just a select group of chats and stats that make us look good).

To help, we narrowed it down to four performance reports that can give you a quick gut-check of how you’re doing: the Chat Conversation Detail Report, Mobile Text Connect (MTC) Detail Report, Agent Performance Report and Contact Source Report.

How to Access the Messaging Reports

  1. Your company’s Contact At Once! admin needs to first log in to the portal.
  2. Click the Reports tab.
  3. Choose the desired report from the drop-down list.

What the Top 4 Reports Provide

Chat Conversation Detail & MTC Detail Reports – These are snapshots of the number of chat or text conversations answered and missed, along with a quick visual of leads that have been collected from such conversations. From here, you can also view transcripts to see what customers are inquiring about (and how your agents are answering).

Agent Performance – This report can show which of your agents are either actively answering chat/text conversations or are not. If they’re not engaging, they may be receiving incoming message notifications but aren’t answering…or they may simply not receive those notifications because they aren’t online enough. Either way, you’ll know where to focus to improve your company’s messaging experience.

Contact Source – Check out the Contact Source to see where your leads are originating. You can tell which messages are coming in from your own site, from partner sites and from third-party search/shopping sites (like Autotrader, Cars.com, Apartments.com, NewHomeSource.com, etc.). It’s great for attribution!

How to Use the Information

These four reports will help you watch for holes in your processes and make course corrections as necessary: What’s broken? What’s working? What could be improved? Are your chats or texts being answered in a timely manner? Are your agents answering their share? You can then dig deeper to learn why some agents are involved and others aren’t, and how to encourage more accountability.

Of course, you can get much more detailed in your reporting within our portal. If you need help, just chat with us below (choose Support), and we’ll help you design the reports you’re looking for!

6 FAQs About the New Contact At Once! Mobile App

Contact At Once! new mobile chat app screen examples

If you answer chats and texts for your company at least part of the time, you likely know we released a significant update to the Contact At Once! mobile app (watch a quick video here). Our mission is to create a better user experience for you; we even squashed a few more bugs with the Dec. 10 update!

Of course, as with any software update, it can take a second or two to reorient yourself. That’s why we asked two support gurus to share—and answer—the most common questions Contact At Once! clients have been asking about the new mobile app.

1.) How do I get chats forwarded to my phone on the new mobile app?

This feature hasn’t really changed. If you start chatting with a consumer from your Contact At Once! desktop app, you can click a button and continue that chat on your mobile device (and vice versa):

  1. Click “GoMo” in the top right corner of the desktop chat window.
  2. Accept the mobile app notification that will pop up on your smartphone.
  3. From there, you can continue the conversation on your mobile app.

If you ever want to return the conversation from the new mobile app back to the desktop app:

  1. Select the action menu in the top right corner of the mobile app (the 3 vertical dots).
  2. Choose the option that says “Forward to desktop.”
  3. Continue the conversation via your desktop app.

2.) How can I make the mobile app notifications more insistent, so I don’t risk missing a conversation?

While you can’t currently change the native audible alert sound (stay tuned for future updates, though!), you may want to double-check a few settings.

On Apple devices:

  1. In Settings, go to Notifications.
  2. Select the Contact At Once! name from the list.
  3. Ensure the option to Allow Notifications is marked as On (and that every option is set to On)
  4. Consider setting the Alert Style (at the bottom of that screen) to Alerts, which will require you to take action on any incoming notification before doing anything else.

On Android devices:

  1. In Settings, go to Notifications.
  2. Select the Contact At Once! name from the list.
  3. Ensure Notifications is set to On.
  4. Make sure device sounds are turned all the way up.

3.) How can I transfer chat requests to another staff member if I’m out of the office?

Chats are automatically directed to whichever agents are online, so it can be as simple as making sure that you’re logged out of the mobile app. Just slide the app screen to the right and click Offline (an option under your profile picture).

However, if there’s a special case and you want to ensure no chat or text requests come in while you’re out, we can help! Reach out to our Support Team to set you up as a “forward only” agent for a specific time. When you’re ready to go back your normal settings, let Support know again.

4.) How do I insert pictures or videos from my phone into a chat (or text) with the new mobile app?

This is super-simple! If it’s your first time using this feature, the app may ask your permission to access your Camera Roll. Other than that, follow these steps:

  1. While engaged in a chat or text, click on the “+” symbol in the bottom left of the mobile app screen.
  2. Select Photo Library (or Video Library) from the list, then select the picture or video you want to use.
  3. Click Send.

5.) How can I set up a live video chat from an iOS device?

With the Contact At Once! mobile app, you can easily stream live video to a consumer via their chat window. (Note: It’s not the same as FaceTime; this is more of a one-way video view that can be less intimidating for those who aren’t comfortable showing you their faces.) Here’s how you share such videos in a chat conversation:

  1. Click on the “+” symbol in bottom left side of your mobile app screen.
  2. Click Start Live Video. (And remember: The consumer can see and hear!)
  3. Click the red “x” button when done.

6.) How do I change the password for my Contact At Once! mobile app?

If you’re the Contact At Once! admin for your company, you can update your password in the Contact At Once! Portal (in the Settings tab). However, agents—those who are set up to chat/text with consumers—can’t update their IDs or passwords because those login credentials are system-generated. Don’t worry if that password is too difficult to remember, though: Once you register your mobile app, it will recognize you every time you open it!

Keep those questions coming! If you’re curious how to do something with Contact At Once!, we’re here to help you get it done.

Many thanks to Karim Peters and Christopher Knight for sharing their product know-how with us all. And remember: You can find more Contact At Once! how-to’s in our Quick Tips blog section.

10 Text & Chat Tips for the Best Digital Interactions

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Chatting or texting with friends and family is second nature to most of us. But throw it into a business context, and we all tend to have a question or two about the best way to handle various situations. It’s common! In fact, we’ve gathered some of the most frequently asked questions right here…with advice from leaders in our customer care team (the Professional Messaging Experts).

1. How should we prepare for chatting and texting with consumers?

Along with getting official training on how to use your text and live chat software, consider approaching the conversation as if you were on the phone or talking in person. Set the tone from the beginning and add personality (i.e., be human). Because “it’s not cheesy in chat,” you can insert semi-formal speech if it fits your brand and, when appropriate, emojis. 🙂

2. What’s the single best piece of advice for overcoming objections during a chat or text conversation?

Make a genuine connection no matter what, even if the conversation doesn’t convert to a lead. Objections may be raised, they may not be pleased with a certain piece of information or they may end that particular conversation, but you’ve got a better chance that they’ll return if you’ve established a positive relationship. (Check out words of wisdom shared by customers like you on how they overcome sales objections in automotive and multifamily situations.)

3. What is the best way to convert a chat to an appointment?

Like an in-person conversation, wait until the appropriate time (which is usually not the moment the chat or text conversations starts). An important phrase to ask is, “So when are you looking to make a purchase?” or “When are you looking to rent?” This allows you to judge whether or not the person you’re speaking with is ready to provide more detailed information and if you should start gathering contact information. For example, Contact At Once! messaging experts are trained to recognize buying signals for HOT leads and help them move forward in the process.

4. How do you handle a customer who seems to be just wasting your time?

Although frustrating at times, try to treat every person who messages with your company like a valued customer. Just because they’re not be willing to commit to moving forward today doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. So don’t burn bridges! Follow through the conversation as diligently as possibly. (That said, there are times when it may be appropriate to blacklist people from messaging: excessive profanity, rude commentary, etc. Determine what your blacklist criteria are and reach out if you have questions about how to block them.)

5. How do you properly guide a chat conversation?

Consumers can sometimes go off topic when chatting or texting. While it can help you deepen the relationship, don’t forget to gently redirect the conversation back to business. Make sure you are polite and listen to them; hear their concerns. But look for a good place to insert a question, from “What kind of car would you like?” to “When were you looking to move?” You could also offer them something additional to encourage information gathering: “Where may I send more information?” or “Would you like to be notified when something like that becomes available?”

6. What is the best way to keep the consumer on the chat?

Be responsive. In messaging, 30 seconds can feel like 5 minutes, so if you need to look something up, let the person on the other end know! Tell them you’re working on their question, gathering the information and will get back to them as quickly as possible. (Hint: You can use a shortcut in those instances!)

7. What should you do when you’re chatting with one consumer and another walks into the business?

Not to worry! You can either forward the chat or text to another person on your team or push the conversation to your mobile device so you can continue to help both parties. (The latter, of course, depends on your level of comfort.) You can also use this as an opportunity to promote the texting option. Consider creating a shortcut message that asks for permission to text the consumer more details in case they don’t have time to sit on the chat while you assist the person who walked in.

8. How do you address a shopper’s concerns about the item of interest if it is no longer available?

Messaging is all about connections. Simply put, respond like you would if you were on the phone. Make sure to apologize, but offer an alternative as well. By suggesting a possible solution, you show you’re trying to address their concerns thoroughly, which can lead to a better consumer experience.

9. When is it ok to end a live chat conversation with a customer?

Usually, the consumer will let you know when to end the conversation (and they often will end it themselves). In the few cases where you’re unsure, just approach it naturally. Perhaps you could add, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” Whatever you choose, type with a smile; it does make a difference.

10. What do we do if someone abandons the chat prior to sharing their name or contact info?

Sometimes consumers prefer to remain anonymous, and we suggest respecting that (the benefits of the convenience and great service you offer can go far!). You can, however, also add in conversation prompts that require certain information before the chat or text conversation starts. Just be mindful that the more fields you require, the fewer conversations you’ll get…decreasing your opportunity to provide a great experience and possibly earn leads and future deals.

From preparation to the close of the chat or text, digital conversations aren’t really all that different from any other conversation. They just happen in a different format!

Did we address your question? Have something to add to these FAQs? Pass them along: marketing@contactatonce.com.

Unsung Heroes: The Team That Trains for the Best Chat & Text Results

Contact At Once!'s live chat and text training team stand ready to help

“Practice makes perfect.” We’ve all heard that phrase, and it’s true no matter what you’re learning, from driving a car to playing an instrument…or learning a new software system. But it’s hard to practice if you don’t first have help getting started or someone to guide you along the way.

Luckily, if you use Contact At Once!, this how-to guidance is included!

Meet the Contact At Once! Training Team

Think of our training team as the personal trainers at a gym or the music teacher who coaches you through initial uncertainty to a concert solo. They know the messaging products you’re using (text, web chat, mobile chat, etc.), and they’re here to help you use it better so you can reach more consumers in the most efficient, effective way possible.

Here’s where they come into play:

Training specialists – Any company that becomes a Contact At Once! customer identifies a person to be the program manager and our point of contact, called the “account administrator.” Our training specialists get these admins up to speed, from how to use the Contact At Once! platform to how to access reporting and manage various settings. And if your team answers chats or texts in-house, these training specialists will ensure they have the know-how to do so effectively: Take a look at what’s available.

Enablement specialists – As you probably know, Contact At Once! is the only platform that can also work on third-party sites like Autotrader.com, CarGurus.com, Cars.com, etc. If a company chooses to chat or text with shoppers from those listings, our enablement specialists are there to guide them through it. They offer similar help as the training specialists, including a Contact At Once! portal walk-through, mock chat or text scenario tests and more.

Customer operations specialists – Consider this group the quality assurance of training. They’re dedicated to ensuring our training and support teams remain top-notch and that Contact At Once! customers are getting exactly what they need. Speaking of…

New Training Experiences Coming Soon

It will soon be easier than ever to access all types of training, thanks to the new “one-stop shop” Learning Management System (LMS) we will be launching next year. Here, both new and seasoned Contact At Once! users will be guided through various messaging “courses” that will help you become more adept at using the software…and see more success as a result! Training will include product knowledge topics (from navigating the portal to using the mobile and desktop apps), best practices and how to make the most of your messaging experience.

So stay tuned and remember: Whether you’re a new customer or just want to refresh your knowledge, we’re ready to guide your “practice” and make your mobile messaging skills more effective than ever. Just let us know how we can help!

Tech is good. The human touch makes it better. That’s why we’re introducing you to the people behind the industry’s most powerful mobile messaging software, dedicated to making your experience rock!

If You Do One Thing to Improve Your Chat Effectiveness, Do This

A photo by Jared Erondu. unsplash.com/photos/j4PaE7E2_Ws

Did you know that there’s a “formula” for mobile messaging success? In the simplest terms…

Contact At Once! + Always-On Presence = More Conversations & More Satisfied Customers

You probably know that using Contact At Once! is a smart choice. So let’s focus on the second part of the equation: always-on presence. This refers to having at least one person available to chat or text with customers on your company’s behalf. As long as someone on your end is active on their desktop or logged into the mobile app, shoppers will be able to reach you in all the moments that matter to them.

That’s a huge factor in text and chat success for the following reasons:

  • Being “present” means you can respond faster. If people click a “Chat Now” button, they expect to chat now. They don’t want to sit there waiting; it’s as bad as being on hold! (A LivePerson study found that 93% of consumers see real-time help as useful in at least one online shopping scenario.)
  • Being “present” means you can capture more opportunities. About half of shoppers will abandon online purchases if they can’t find a quick answer and swiftly get their uncertainties resolved. Granted, most people aren’t buying cars entirely online—yet—but this expectation trickles into research and comparison shopping! (Check out how it helped this dealership.)
  • Being “present” means you can provide the BEST experience. In other words, you’re always there to help when they reach out. That’s the sort of at-your-attention service needed in a world where the experience you provide will be more important than your price by 2020.

So if you do one thing to improve your mobile messaging effectiveness this year, it should be maximizing your presence. Strive to be “always on”!

How to Maximize Presence

One way to achieve this 24/7 availability is by using Contact At Once’s fully managed chat solution with an entire team of professional messaging experts dedicated to managing such conversations. But if you wanted to manage some or all of these chats in-house, you can still reach a similar goal. An in-house team can be very effective at answering customer’s questions and guiding them toward the final sale or service appointment, especially if they have the right technology.

Here are a few ways to increase availability (and improve customer experience) when using our self-managed or co-managed solutions:

  • Know the current situation. Read your Agent Performance Report and/or Chat Performance Report to understand just how often your team is online and available to chat. (Your company’s Contact At Once! admin can find this report in the Portal.) If you manage chats in-house and don’t have after-hours help, aim for a presence percentage of at least 60-70%—more is always better.
  • Use “presence-aware” chat invitations. This is usually a default setting with Contact At Once! because it helps prevent negative experiences. Such invitations only offer the option to chat if you’re available to respond instantly (i.e., someone on your team is at their desk or logged into the mobile app). No customer will be left waiting.
  • Involve more people at your company. The more people you set up to chat or text, the more customers you can help when it matters. Here are a few more tips to encourage your team.
  • Remind everyone to use the mobile app. This gives you the flexibility to answer chats or texts anywhere, which means you can stay “present” to online consumers even when you’re not at your desk. That simple change can boost your availability quite a bit!
  • Use our Professional Messaging Expert team. If your company’s ready-to-respond presence still leaves something to be desired, get expert backup (and/or increase coverage as needed)! Our industry-trained professional messaging experts are skilled at building relationships as they assist your customers via chat or text, and they make sure your team has everything needed for follow-up. With them on the case, it’s easy to ensure an amazing, always-on presence…without overwhelming your team. And they can manage as many or as few of the conversations as you want.

Implementing just a few of the above steps will boost your chat presence…which can increase inbound chats and texts and conversions. Good luck!

8 Steps to Becoming a Better Leader No Matter Your Role

Leadership Passion

Leadership isn’t about having a certain title. (Remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s “street sweeper” speech?) Great leaders can be found everywhere, in every role. That thought was reinforced during lunch a few weeks ago when my co-workers and I shared stories about what makes a great leader. The people we talked about weren’t all CEOs or directors or managers, there were quite a few teachers, coaches and sisters, too!

In other words, we can all develop leadership qualities that will help us help others. Here are a few ideas that were shared:

1 – Be Approachable

Sure, you can inspire people from far away. But that influence grows if those around you see you as someone they can talk to, learn from and aren’t afraid to ask for your thoughts or guidance on something. You’re busy…but don’t make others feel you’re too busy.

2 – Ask Great Questions

Question everything. If you want to lead others further, don’t settle for the status quo. Respect it, but always look for ways to do things more efficiently, effectively, etc. By doing so, you’ll encourage those around you to seek new paths too. (“What do you think would happen if…”)

3 – Listen

Being a know-it-all doesn’t make you a leader. Listen. Listen to your team. Listen to your customers. Listen to their worries. Listen to their hopes and expectations. Listen to their pains. Listening shows you care about the individual, and that can be pretty darn inspiring in itself.

4 – Develop Strengths

Many focus on improving weaknesses, but what about strengthening your strengths? Develop those abilities into something even more powerful! Not only can this help you become better at what you do, it may inspire others (at a variety of levels) to develop their own individual specialities. (Check out this book on the subject.)

5 – Serve Those You Lead

This point is most applicable to those already in a managerial type of position. Still, the overall idea of being in service—helping others—transcends roles. Help others be the best at whatever they are doing, from gathering needed resources to lending any expertise you have.

6 – Be Part of the “Making” Process

Lao Tzu once said: “To lead people, walk beside them.” There really is nothing more encouraging than a leader willing to get in the trenches and work with his or her team. Obviously, not everyone has the same skillset, but get involved where you can to help the entire team succeed.

7 – Understand the Needs

Leaders aren’t those who say something’s “not in their job description.” They see a need and dig to learn the process, what’s broken and how to fix it. From the needs of a particular team to the company in general and your end customer, work to understand how everything fits together.

8 – Empower the People You Lead

For those in managerial positions, this can mean giving your team members the tools and flexibility to try new ways to achieve results and take ownership. Even if you’re not in such a position, you can inspire others to empowerment by constantly seeking ways to improve yourself and the company’s experience as a whole. The more your teammates see you take initiative, the more they’re inspired to do so as well.

As one teammate put it, “Leadership is about developing people, encouraging them to do better.” And this is the real difference between managing and leading. Yes, management is an essential part of leadership, but think of it this way: You’re told to follow a manager; you want to follow a leader.

So who will you inspire today?

Podcast: Don’t Fall for These 3 Myths About Contact At Once!

Contact At Once! has been the leader in automotive mobile messaging for over a decade. When you hold a position like that, competitors are bound to take shots and create myths in an attempt to gain ground. Ed Parkinson, a veteran on our team and in the industry, wanted to set the record straight about a few of those myths: managed chat, innovation and third-party sales.

Listen to the podcast above to hear what Ed revealed!

6 Tried-and-True Methods for Gathering Lead Data from Automotive Chats

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“What’s your name, social security number, and can we have your firstborn child before we help you?”

We’ve all been there. Whether navigating through the automated voicemail-lands of insurance companies or trying to figure out why your Wi-Fi network is down, it’s frustrating when the person (or robot) on the other end insists on getting what they want from you first.

Still, as businesspeople, we KNOW how important gathering lead data is, especially when it comes to online car shoppers. It helps build buyer profiles, informs future sales and customer service interactions, and lets you track that consumer’s path with your dealership.

The key is balancing the consumer experience with your dealership needs.

Yes, you can add a prompt to require the shopper’s name or other details before starting a chat. Just keep in mind that the more details you require upfront, the more likely that consumer will abandon (it can decrease interactions 40-60%). What often works best is earning such information during the conversation—it builds a better experience, is less “pushy” and may get you more opportunities in the end! Contact At Once!’s (CAO) professional messaging experts specialize in earning consumer information this way.

If you use CAO in a co-managed or self-managed setup, try these six tips for gathering lead details during automotive chat conversations, straight from our messaging experts and your fellow auto professionals:

Tip #1: Focus on the Consumer

“When managing chat or text conversations, you can’t forget that you’re the first taste shoppers get of that dealership or brand,” says Whitney Darmstadt, Quality Manager with CAO’s professional messaging expert team. “That’s why we believe that acquiring lead information should be the result of having a pleasant conversation and answering the consumer’s question(s).”

So rather than jumping straight into the contact details you’d love to have, try a more customer-focused approach. “Let the consumer know that she has your sole attention and find things that you share in common,” explains Raquel Mitchell, part of Huffines Subaru’s business development team. “Then make sure you’re taking care of every need and question.”

Tip #2: Find Common Ground

To find that common ground, CAO’s messaging experts like to ask their own questions as they look up information: What got you interested in this brand or model? The right questions can also help guide car shoppers into providing extra information. When are they considering a purchase? Are they interested only in Certified Pre-Owned or are they open to new models too? Would they like information on financial options emailed to them?

Asking such questions shows you’re focused on that person, so they may be more likely to provide the details you need to help them better, as Whitney explains.

“Once the customer realizes your No. 1 intention is to help him and answer all his questions, you’ll start to build rapport and trust,” adds Drew Hall, a leasing and sales consultant for Gates Chevy, Buick and GMC. “And once you do that, getting their contact information is easy (and setting a solid appointment is much more likely).”

Tip #3: Ask

Timing has a lot to do with how willing people are to share personal information. But once you know the questions the customer is chatting in about—and start to address them—it’s time to ask for the lead data. How you ask is important, too. Sometimes just assuming that the customer is going to give you the information and asking directly can work, as Chris Fischer, a sales consultant at Vic Canever Chevrolet, has experienced. “They’ll often give it to you without thinking,” he says.

And if you start with the human-to-human connection mentioned above, you’re even more likely to earn the details you need when you ask!

Tip #4: Give More Reason (& Value) for Sharing

The point here is finding a way to be of service after the chat conversation itself. Does the shopper want spec sheets or a copy of the chat conversation emailed? Would they like pictures or videos texted?

Videos seem to work well for Chandra Hirning, Certified Internet Manager for Schwan Buick GMC Cadillac, who has gathered leads by stating: “I can make a short walkaround video of that car and email or text you a link.” And don’t underestimate offering to switch to a call when you get into the nitty-gritty of options! It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Tip #5: Exchange Info During the Chat

Giving consumers information about you first may make them feel less like a number and more like a real person being helped by a real person. Consider sharing your direct contact information and explaining all the different ways they could get in touch with you if they have further questions.

Plus, if getting the information is going to take a few minutes, it’s smart to have a way to get back in touch with each other, which is a tactic Richard Wiatrowski, Ecommerce Manager for MINI of Louisville, likes to use. A chatting consumer may not want to wait for you to physically check on a car’s availability. But she may be willing to be texted once you confirm the exact vehicle is on the lot.

(Make sure your dealership uses the right texting software to ensure permissions are appropriately obtained and recorded.)

Tip #6: Be Their Contact Person

Maybe that car wasn’t right for them. Maybe they aren’t quite ready to come in. But if you exchange information like in Tip #5, you can be that shopper’s personal contact at the dealership, sharing any new rebates or discounts that come up. Adam Traver, Assistant New Car Sales Manager at Schaefer & Bierlein, tells customers that other cars come in all the time, so he’ll keep working to find the perfect one. “This defines the objection on the current vehicle and establishes a follow-up schedule,” he adds.

So in this, as with so many things in life, the golden rule is the best option: Ask prospective buyers for their contact information when and how you would have salespeople ask you, and you’ll likely win more sales opportunities.

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