Digital expert advises dealerships to abandon live chat in favor of texting

In an age where most communication is done with a few keystrokes, live chat in the automotive industry is dead – or at least that is what one digital expert wrote in an open letter to nationwide dealerships.

Ray Reggie of Mandeville, La., used PRNewswire to get his message out, stating that 95 percent of potential vehicle customers are eschewing the live chat feature on dealerships’ websites. Reggie implores businesses to ignore the widget with a virtual-yet-friendly associate and to move on to the more effective platform of text messaging.

“The key is to engage and implement a quality SMS/text platform before you abandon your chat program,” Reggie told Mega Dealer News. “The text program should be one that allows the dealership to receive texts in a platform that allows the messages to be forwarded to the appropriate department – service, sales, rental, body shop, etc. – and also copied into the CRM for proper follow-up. Once the platform is set up and the team is properly trained, the transition with be smooth and successful.”

Reggie asserted in his public letter that recent studies have determined text messaging is the way to go in the auto industry.

“Customers want one thing – answers – and they want them quickly," he wrote. “Chat users, by and large, are young.”

Reggie discussed some of the things to be aware of with regard to switching over from live chat to SMS/text.

“The number one issue in making a change from chat to SMS/text is not being prepared,” Reggie said. “In many dealerships, the chat service is 'managed' or outsourced to a third party. That means, the dealership doesn’t have to do anything except get the transcript of the chat at the conclusion. When a prospect or customer texts, they expect an immediate response and action. The dealership needs to be properly staffed and ready to handle the text messages as they come in."

Reggie is a former auto salesman who has held practically every position in the business since starting out in 1983, his website states.

"By adding in a text-enabled phone number on your website and in your Google My Business (GMB), expect to receive a significant amount of text messages," he said. "With a static, not a floating icon, text button on your desktop and mobile website, you will receive more text messages and now the dealership will have the prospect or customer’s phone number to properly respond to the inquiry. Get ready for more activity and be ready to handle the text effectively and promptly.”

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