Our Senior Content and Comms Manager, Ben White, offers his thoughts on live chat.
We hear plenty about the ‘time-poor, always on the move, connected consumer’ who, if many commentators are to be believed, have neither the time nor the inclination to pick up the phone and call a business. Whilst there is probably some exaggeration and hyperbole around just how busy people are, there are times in all our lives when making a call seems a bit too much like hard work.
Similarly, if you are at your desk at work, juggling 38 different things including getting in touch with a business about an order you have made, dialling up, pressing 1 for existing customer, 3 for the customer service department, then being left on hold for an indeterminate period can definitely seem like time wasted. This is when live chat suddenly becomes a really useful proposition.
Now I’m usually one for picking up my iPhone and making a call. Email often takes too long, Twitter has an inconvenient character limit, and to be frank, I don’t really want to post my query over social media. But today, while at my desk juggling 38 tasks I decided to make an enquiry on live chat so I could carry on doing my job at the same time.
It wasn’t a tough one – simply that I’ve ordered a new mountain bike from Tredz and had a sudden realisation that if it was going to my home address I’d not be in to receive it. Getting the order changed so that it came to GForces HQ instead seemed like a good idea. I therefore hit the chat button and within 15 seconds ‘Emma’ responded.
A short chat later I had a full update on my order’s progress, the answer to whether the bike could come to work instead (no, sadly – something to do with finance), and was wished a good weekend at sign-off. The entire process took no more than four minutes and it was not only achingly convenient, I was also able to carry on working. Even better, I got a blog out of it!
In the automotive industry there are inevitably going to be people like me who have had a quick browse and found a car they like, or simply want a price for a service, while they have other things going on and therefore don’t want to pick up the phone. Across the top 200 UK dealers, 44% were operating a live chat facility at the last count back in August. Not a bad proportion, but obviously there is still room for more.
Providing customers with the ability to make a quick enquiry while they do other things, or carry on browsing is not only convenient, it is in itself a customer service. Furthermore we know of clients converting significant proportions of chats to sales of vehicles and servicing work. And even if a chat doesn’t end in a sale, if the customer has had a good experience while using it (as I did), they’re going to remember your brand and the service they were given.
Managing chats obviously requires staff, especially for larger groups. But there are industry-specific outsourcing options out there, such as Call IT Automotive, who can be your mouthpiece and help customers out when you can’t. For all I know, ‘Emma’ was working out of a call centre too – it didn’t diminish our interaction if she was, put it that way.
My personal advice is this; if you’re not convinced that live chat is right for your dealership, give it a go on a site which does provide it – whether you need to or not. Principles of products and services are all well and good, but as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.