During a recent car-buying adventure which I tend to do way too often (I like a new vehicle every two years, max), I noticed there was a difference between many of the websites I visited. I’m a night-time internet guy, you see, and trying to do my shopping and research around midnight poses one major problem: nobody’s there to answer the phone if I have a question.
I personally never fill out a form. There’s no need to try to collect my data. If you want it, the government probably has it all available. Call me old school but I like talking to people without giving them my name, address, phone number, email, best time to contact, vehicle of interest, and required comments. If I want to know if a vehicle is available, all I need is a yes or no answer.
In my travels, I noticed that some dealer websites had chat available. Others did not, which was strange in 2015, but I assumed that they simply didn’t want the business of a paranoid upper-middle-class SUV leasing American who doesn’t like to fill out forms. Others did have chat, but most were still “offline.” What’s the point of having a chat function if it’s not available to answer questions? I can tell through Facebook that I’m not the only one in my circle of influence who is online late at night.
The dealership that ended up answering my questions was Amaral Auto Sales. It wasn’t just the fact that I chatted with them at 2am (yes, I searched for quite a while). If they didn’t have the vehicle I wanted, I wouldn’t have bought from them just because they had a chat interface ready for me when I wanted it, but it certainly helped their cause.
The bottom line is this: dealers, if you’re reading this, please get chat on your websites. Please make sure that someone is available for chat 24/7. Please realize that there are plenty of people visiting your website late at night in the privacy of our “internet time” and we are just as likely to buy a vehicle from you as the people who somehow have time to do vehicle research during business hours.
If you aren’t there to answer the questions, there’s a good chance your potential customers are finding someone who will.