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Archive for the ‘Connections’ Category

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


3 Ways to Connect with Customers During the Holiday Season

Don’t you wish November and December lasted longer? Weather aside, the holiday season seems to turn many of us into more cheerful versions of ourselves—even while we hunt for great deals. Obviously, not everyone buys vehicles as gifts. But there are things you can do to stick in people’s minds as the place to go if (or when) they are in the market.

Several Contact At Once! dealers shared how they grab attention and connect with customers in these months. Reading through may spark a few new ideas of your own for the future!

Have Fun with Themed Deals

If your dealership is trying to move inventory or encourage more service visits, it doesn’t hurt to put a holiday theme to your specials. Courtesy Ford, for example, offers “12 Days of Christmas” Service Specials. “Each day has a different special, from super low-priced oil changes to paintless dent removal,” explains Douglas Davis, their Director of Internet Marketing.

And when it comes to selling vehicles, you can have more than Black Friday in your pocket to convince buyers now is the time. Jennifer Griffith, Internet Marketing Coordinator of Tom Ahl Family of Dealerships, says they run a “Final 5” sale during the last five days of the year. “All of our vehicles are marked down super low, and we pack our inventory for this sale.”

Throw a Party

Another dealer rep suggested having a holiday party that customers can take part in. This can be a good way to show appreciation, and you can treat employees at the same time! Just make sure to hold it at a time that’s not inconvenient for customers—even though it’s a free party, people may choose not come in the evening or during a weekday (they have other priorities). Maybe a Saturday lunch buffet isn’t your idea of a holiday party, but it could be just the right touch and time to get people in your doors one more time.

Build Goodwill with Community Involvement

The last two months of the year is also the perfect time to get your dealership involved in the community. As Don Murray, BDC Manager at Ressler Motors Bozeman, says, “This doesn’t always lead to direct sales in the month of December, but it builds such goodwill that it’s worth it all year long!”

For instance, Don’s company promoted a pay-it-forward challenge last year. They gave service customers a $20 gift card (cash) and challenged them to do something good for another person with it. “The response was overwhelming, and word of mouth spread quickly. Our customers were blown away, and so were the people they picked to bless with the $20. Plus, it was fun for all of the departments involved! A real win.”

You can also generate goodwill and attention by joining established community programs. Hendrick’s Chevrolet often hosts boxes for Toys For Tots, says Melissa Dominguez, Business Development Manager.

Want to help a local shelter? Consider pulling a truck into your showroom and asking customers to bring in food donations to help you fill it up, like Josh Hoke, Internet Sales Manager, remembers doing at Laird Noller Dealerships of Lawrence. Brown’s Sales & Leasing does something similar, says their own Internet Manager Angela Reed. They run a Christmas Drive for the local Shepherd of the Hills, collecting toys, clothes and pillows. And with every donation or test drive, the dealership makes a donation as well!

Whatever you decide to do, the holidays can help you increase your “stickiness” with customers: current and prospective. How will you get involved this year?

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.

3 Stepping Stones to Successful Digital Retailing

To say the car-buying experience has seen significant changes in recent years would be an understatement. Customers can get a whole host of information about their purchase before ever setting foot on the lot or in a showroom. What’s more, car shoppers are demanding a digital aspect to this experience in increasing numbers—86% of consumers said they’d rather work with a dealer that offers online buying capabilities, according to a study from Root & Associates and CDK Global.

This means brands (and their dealerships) that don’t provide digital retailing could be seriously missing out.

Build the type of digital experience today’s consumers gravitate toward with these three stepping stones: a collection of digital retailing apps, integration with a robust digital messaging network and dedicated consumer advocates to offer concierge support.

1) Digital Retailing Apps

Help shoppers save time by offering the appropriate digital retailing apps, such as bank pre-approval, trade-in appraisals and support for digital paperwork as well as payment. When integrated correctly, digital retailing apps help consumers complete paperwork and processes online, giving valuable time back to them…and dealership sales teams.

2) Digital Messaging Network

The digital messaging network is the bridge that connects consumers with product specialists who help shoppers find information and complete digital retailing processes when it’s convenient for them. As customers shop and use digital retailing apps, they will surely have questions. Messaging provides a quick, simple way to reach out for assistance.

Messaging networks should provide live-person connections for customers—wherever they’re shopping, your brand or dealership is there. This level of engagement helps build relationships and ensure consistency of experience. (If it’s hard to get in touch with your team, it’s hard to believe any other claims of great service!)

In fact, the best digital messaging networks are those that can be deployed at any touch point within the digital retailing process. This includes brand sites, dealer websites, in apps, car search and other third-party platforms, as well as on Google and Facebook. In this way, no matter where a customer is in their car-buying journey, assistance and support is never out of reach.

The support provided by such a robust digital messaging network matches the level of service customers now demand:

  • According to the Root & Associates’ study, 53% of customers are very or extremely likely to complete their car purchase online, and only visit the dealership for a final review. The digital messaging network ensures customers are engaged during every step of this process, and understand how to use the necessary digital retailing apps.
  • Consumers prefer live messaging 83% of auto shoppers prefer to message with businesses about purchases. And 60% are more likely to purchase if they get help from a human being via messaging like chat.
  • Messaging networks now account for 73% of customer satisfaction, beating out email and phone combined (61 percent).

3) Dedicated Consumer Advocates

Finally, dedicated advocates who provide personal assistance for consumers complete the digital retailing picture and support the kind of concierge experience today’s car buyers want. From answering queries submitted through the digital messaging network to ultimately connecting shoppers with a dealer salesperson, these product specialists make the digital retailing process as efficient for the dealer team as it is for the consumer!

These 3 components can help you build a smart, effective approach to digital retailing. In fact, you can take a deeper look by downloading our guide: “A Playbook for Winning with Digital Retailing.”

Do You Know Your Work “Big Picture”?

Are you passionate about what you do? Are you as passionate today as you were when you started?

Even if you love your job, it can be a struggle to stay motivated—especially in a position where you deal with rejection or customer irritation on what can seem like a daily basis. (Hats off to you sales professionals, property managers and customer service reps!)

It’s All in How You Look at It

Our company understands the need for such motivation, and brought in Lincoln Kokaram, the founder of His Business Partners, LLC, to facilitate his “With P.A.S.S.I.O.N. Workshop.” It takes passion to teach passion, and Lincoln’s positive attitude and level of enthusiasm was infectious, which was quite intentional. His goal was to “ignite a fire for what you do.”

At the beginning of the class, we filled out a scoresheet, called “My Passion Meter.” Here, we rated statements like: “I look forward to going to work”, “I take pride in what I do” and “My job is very important.”

The statement “My job is very important” makes you think, doesn’t it? IS your job very important? Well, that depends on how you view your job. Shift your perspective, and you might come up with a very different answer.

Finding a Perspective That Motivates

For example, Lincoln told a story about visiting three different dealerships when he was looking to buy a car. At each dealership he asked the car salesmen a simple question about what they do. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but here’s how they replied:

  • The first guy said, “Um, look around. I sell cars, man.”
  • The second guy said, “I sell the country’s best imported vehicle.”
  • The last guy responded by first asking Lincoln’s name. He then said, “Lincoln, I help people choose the vehicle they’ll feel safe driving when they take their families on long road trips and the vehicle that will take them to and from work every day. I sell cars, which in turn bring in profits to the dealership that help pay the salaries of the receptionists and detailers so they can provide for their families.”

That last perspective is powerful because the salesperson in question looked beyond what was directly in front of him. He wasn’t caught up in titles, job description or even product. That only limits your passion. Instead, he has what Lincoln calls “the work big picture.”

To see that big picture yourself, consider how your performance affects the people around you, the lives of your families and your customers—even your community. Your job, no matter what you do, does affect others, from the product or service you provide to the attitude you project. It’s all connected. Pretty inspiring, if you ask me.

Granted, I’m not expecting this article is going to re-ignite the fire of your passion by itself. But I hope it gives you a new perspective to ponder…because the most effective inspiration comes from within. We each have to ignite our own fire. Lincoln simply reminds us that we hold both the match and the fuel.

What will you do with yours?

8 Tips for Getting to Know Your Customers the “Old-Fashioned” Way

Everyone’s talking about how things have changed, from how we communicate to how we search for and buy almost anything. While that’s true, there’s still an important human element involved, especially when it comes to big-ticket items like cars or places to live. Shoppers often want to ask an expert questions or to see the product in person, and how they’re treated during those moments may play a role in the final decision.

So how do you make the most of those human-to-human interactions, whether they chat or text or walk in?

Along with being easily available and knowledgeable, use this chance to get to know your potential customers…so you can guide them to the best vehicle for their needs. Here are a few tips from our Contact At Once! client community:

#1 – Try to Find Common Ground

This is a time-honored tradition of lowering barriers and getting along with just about anyone. (Just make sure you avoid religion and politics, advises Jason Whittington of Sons Automotive!) For example, Tahler Jones, Internet Sales Manager at Baum Chevrolet Buick, connected with and bounced ideas off a recent customer because they were both remodeling houses. It’s not just about asking questions and finding similar topics of interest, either:

  • “If they come in and have young children, I get on my knees (so I am closer to their level) and introduce myself.” – David Boyle, Sales Manager at Bill Page Toyota
  • “We love when people bring their animals in! We have dog treats in sales and service.” – Sarah Kukovis, Marketing Manager, Competition Toyota
  • Consider hosting a charitable event at your dealership and inviting the community. That can establish a common ground from the get-go.

#2 – Respect Their Time

If you want a customer to keep sharing information, show them you’re not just wasting time. When asked a question, “instead of beating around the bush, respond in a quick manner,” says Jennifer Griffith, Internet Marketing Coordinator of Tom Ahl Family of Dealerships.

And when it comes time for your own questions, don’t assume they understand the importance. Explain that you’re making sure you understand what they’re looking for—that always seems to work for Melissa Dominguez, Business Development Manager of Hendrick’s Chevrolet. Speaking of…

#3 – Talk About Outside Stuff

Keep in mind that some of your conversation won’t appear to be car-related. What they do for work, how they got into that type of career, how old their children are, if they live in the area—all of these unassuming questions can help make the car sale. “With the information we learn, we can find out if there’s a possibility for a near future sale based on the age of their children, if they live in the area when we can schedule their vehicle maintenance appointments and so on,” notes Lacey Tallmadge, GM of Killer Auto Sales.

Here are few topics dealers shared that may either spark useful information or help you find common ground: family, friends, vacations, sports, health, traffic, local events and the first place they’ll go with the new vehicle.

#4 – Find Out What They Really Want (& Why)

One dealership marketing manager put it this way: “In the car business you need to know why they need the car (business or personal). If it’s personal, you need to know if they have a family. How big is their family? What features do they absolutely have to have?”

As you talk about their wants and needs, they’ll likely share a wealth of information (like family names or hobbies). You can use these responses to put customers in the right vehicle and connect them to that vehicle on a more personal level, as Taylor Duke of Dave Smith Nissan’s BDC department tries to do.

And if you don’t have the car they really want? You can still use that information to build a truly exceptional experience. For example, “if the car they want isn’t on our lot, we will become their personal shopper and find it,” says Lacey.

#5 – Listen Up

Of course, using the information customers share with you requires that you “listen twice as much as you speak,” per Jason Whittington. It’s far too easy to start a conversation and get so distracted by your end goal (really want to make this deal!) that your mind glosses over an important detail like the fact that they’re now expecting their second child. To prevent that from happening to her, Melissa Dominguez often paraphrases what they say back so they know she’s listening.

#6 – Say It Via Video

Ever feel at a loss trying to build rapport and trust via text or chat? Consider adding video messages. (Hint: you can add them to your text/chat conversations with Contact At Once!) One Internet manager explains that videos can be comforting to online shoppers because it allows them to see who they’re speaking with, and using them can increase responses. She’s created videos to thank customers, walkarounds on vehicles of interest, appointment reminders, Internet lead responses, etc.

#7 – Laugh

Whether online or in-person, this is a great tip: Laugh with every customer. Don Murray, BDC Manager at Ressler Motors, says, “When you laugh with them or find something in common, you’re more than just a sales associate or a source of information. It humanizes you and makes a sale much more likely.”

#8 – Act on What You Learn

Don’t let all the effort you put in to get to know your customers go to waste. Use it to follow up and stay top of mind with them in more personalized ways:

  • Remember their interest in future vehicles or other things (or add it to your CRM), and bring it up when you see or talk to them again. – Jennifer Griffith
  • “A client was going to have surgery, so I checked in on them the day after just to see how they were feeling.” – Melissa Dominguez
  • Send invites to special events based on what their interests are. One sales consultant keeps tabs on who has (or just loves) classic cars and invites them to the dealership car shows.

These aren’t hard sales tactics or set rules by any means. Getting to know customers is a delicate, personal activity, and it shouldn’t matter whether they’re talking via chat, texting or standing across from you in the showroom. Your goal is to help them buy and have a wonderful time while doing so. The better you know them, the easier that can become.

Beyond Doing Good: How Charitable Efforts Make Your Company Stronger

Let me be real for a second: A bake sale inspired this blog post. Seriously. A bake sale inspired a blog because it inspired our company to pull together across departments to help others. And that can lead to powerful internal benefits that companies shouldn’t ignore.

Feeding ATL: Bringing Our Office Together

Be an owner, help others and make meaningful connections. Those values are at the heart of everything we do here at Contact At Once!, a LivePerson Company, and they’re not just “feel good” statements. These values guide how we interact with each other, customers and the community as a whole.

Last year, for example, we kicked off FeedingATL at the Atlanta office. FeedingATL helped provide nutritious meals to over 2,000 food-insecure families in the area. Now, we are ramping up for our second year, raising money first then packing and delivering boxes of food on June 10, 2017. With the help of several sponsors (The Dream Big Foundation, LivePerson, Action Ministries, Precision Printing Professionals and Per Se Media Group), $9 will feed a family of four for about two weeks.

An important added benefit of this charitable effort is that it connects our office in new ways. A few weeks ago, we held a bake sale in the lobby of our office building and raised over $1,300 to pay for more FeedingATL food boxes. From the promotion to the baking and selling, we worked and laughed with teammates from across all departments—people we often don’t interact with on a daily basis. Even the building security guard got in on the action, encouraging other companies to come in and try it out the goodies for sale.

Charitable Efforts for the Win (in More Ways Than One)

Interactions like the above help form tighter bonds, and that extra connectedness can lead to a greater willingness to ask questions and collaborate on other work-specific projects. And all of that can combine into a happier, more engaged and loyal workforce. (I know it does here!)

In fact, according to a study done by Project ROI, a well-designed corporate responsibility program can…

  • Increase revenue up to 20%.
  • Reduce staff turnover rate up to 50%.
  • Increase productivity up to 13%.
  • Increase employee engagement up to 7.5%.

Those are pretty appealing numbers, no matter your industry. For example, the average turnover in multifamily housing is around 31%, according to the National Multi Housing Council. What’s more, the 2016 NADA Workforce Study says automotive sales team turnover is 67%. Plus, it can cost a dealership $45,000 every time a salesperson leaves, according to a DrivingSales study!

That adds up quickly (and not in a good way). But there are ways to help stop the bleed and building teamwork has a lot to do with it.

How to Get Started

Like the FeedingATL example, volunteering really can help cultivate that teamwork. Whether you run a coat drive, build a house or pack meals, volunteering helps you get to know your co-workers (including those in different departments) which, in turn, builds a sense of community within the workplace. So why wait until the yearly holiday party to mingle leasing and maintenance, sales and fixed ops teams? Try these ideas:

  • Find a local charity, from animal shelters to soup kitchens, and ask how you could help.
  • Ask your co-workers what they would like to do.
  • Promote what you’re doing internally and externally to gather more support, especially for fundraising or finding volunteers within the community.
  • Celebrate / thank all the participants afterwards, perhaps by posting pictures on your company’s social pages, within the showroom, etc.

When your company embraces the idea of being part of a team, where what you do counts and everyone succeeds together…it becomes true.

Partner Integrations: How to Get Even More From Contact At Once!

You don’t purchase a product hoping to get as little out of it as you can. Ideally, you want to get more than you first imagined. And you can with Contact At Once!

I’m not just talking about the single access point we provide so you can chat or text with shoppers on your website, ad listings, Google AdWords, etc. Contact At Once! also integrates with other technologies you use, helping you engage more shoppers in more places with more effective results:

  • Most of these tech partners integrate our chat in their products, which offers the convenience of messaging to more consumers.
  • Some integrations supply additional car-buying or shopper-specific information into the Contact At Once! answering app, so you can have better sales conversations.
  • Other integrations make it easier to view our messaging data alongside other data.

Intrigued? Then read on to take advantage…

How to Activate Partner Integrations

If you’re a mutual customer—for example, you use our chat and text package on your main site and you’re a customer of one of our partners—these integrations are free! Your company’s Contact At Once! administrator can then log into the portal to kick off activation. Just follow these steps:

  1. Click “Provisioning” and select “Chat Network Provision” from the options that drop down.
  2. Your admin will see a list of companies that may be available for you to integrate Contact At Once! with.
  3. Find the company you want (and are a mutual customer of), and follow the steps. This usually includes filling in your customer ID for the company and clicking the “Activate” button near it. Note: If you don’t know your customer ID, the portal should also show details on how to contact the partner company. And you can always chat with our Support Team if help is needed.
  4. Contact At Once! and the partner will work behind the scenes to turn on that integration for you.

What Kind of Integrations Are We Talking About?

See if your company works with any of these 12 partners, then follow the steps above to get MORE from your messaging solution:


Dealerships use AutoHook and their gift card incentives to entice consumers to share identifiable information and visit the showroom (to pick up their gift).

With the Contact At Once! integration, these incentives will slide out of the consumer chat window as the chat conversation takes place. The sales agent chatting with that shopper will be notified when the incentive appears, and can direct attention to it.

Better Car People

Better Car People solutions craft and send compelling first responses to Internet leads and service appointment requests. These personalized email responses—usually sent in under 10 minutes—help set customer expectations and improve contact ratio.

Contact At Once! can add chat invitations to Better Car People’s emails, reminding consumers of another way to connect with your dealership for more details.


If you provide CARFAX vehicle history reports for used car sales, then your chat agents should be able to easily access these reports during a chat conversation (improving selling messages). Contact At Once! enables this; in fact, if the consumer chats in from a VDP, the report can pull up automatically too! You can then share that report with the shopper for more peace of mind.

Want to set up this Contact At Once! integration? It’s a little more unique, so let our Support Team know! We’ll work with your site provider to include the VIN in the code.

CDK Global Audience Viewer

Have a website built by CDK Global? Then you may know a little about the CDK Audience Viewer, which lets you view behavioral shopper data: what type of cars the shoppers are viewing and where they are in their shopping journey.

Contact At Once! dealers can view that behavioral shopper data right in the chat window as they’re talking with an online shopper (for more relevant conversations).


If shoppers check you out on DealerRater and like what they see, you can give them an easy way to get in touch with the Contact At Once! integration.

They’ll place our live chat options on your DealerRater ratings!

Digital Air Strike: ResponseLogix SmartQuote™

You pay close attention to responses from shoppers after you’ve sent them a price quote, don’t you? Well…

This integration adds your chat options to the multi-vehicle quote itself, giving shoppers a quick, convenient way to communicate the second they have questions as they read.

DMEautomotive “DriverConnect” Mobile App

If you offer customers the Driver Connect mobile app, you can deploy your Contact At Once! mobile chat options there, too.

Consumers will be able to chat directly with your dealership from that app.

eLEND Solutions

eLEND Solutions’ CreditPlus program offers instant pre-qualification decisions to shoppers as they shop for their vehicle of choice. Contact At Once! works with eLEND to make this experience even more convenient:

  • As the shopper chats about a certain car, you can promote the instant credit application in the same chat window.

  • Shoppers can also chat with your team if they have additional questions about the application.

  • If they are pre-approved, shoppers can immediately start a sales conversation via chat if they want to know more about the vehicle (say, if they can test drive it today).

Facebook Messenger

Consumers are talking to more and more businesses via Facebook Messenger, and it can be hard to keep up a good response rate!

Our integration lets you add these conversation streams into your Contact At Once! platform for easier management, and whoever answers your chats/texts can pick up these conversations too.

Outsell Newsletter

Do you use Outsell’s services to provide newsletters for current and prospective customers?

You can choose to add a chat link to it, potentially driving more conversations your way if the recipient sees something that strikes their fancy.

PureCars Market Value Reports

It’s always smart to sell the value of your vehicles. And if you use PureCars market value reports to spell it out for shoppers, you can also share this insight with the agents answering consumers via messaging.

Contact At Once! can display this on-the-spot intelligence from PureCars in the chat answer window, helping your team promote value.

VistaDash (formerly ROI-BOT)

VistaDash helps dealership executives manage all their vendor data and budgets from one place, a vendor-neutral data warehouse.

Our Contact At Once! integration allows you to store and review Contact At Once! reports through this reporting dashboard.

Integrations aren’t the only way you can maximize your Contact At Once! technology, either. Make sure you’re taking advantage of all the available features! Our Quick Tips blog category outlines several, and there are new “Advanced Agent” online training courses here that may help.

And remember: If there’s something you wish your Contact At Once! solution could do…ask! (There’s a good chance we can help you figure out how.)

6 Tips for Putting Your Best Foot Forward After a Bad Review

We all strive to do and be our best, which includes providing a great consumer experience. However, there’s a reason the adage “you can’t please everybody” has been around for so many years. No matter how hard we aim to please, sometimes things just don’t go our way. And in the age of the Internet, those times can be forever etched in stone, thanks to negative reviews.

Someone gets upset, and you get a 1-star review on a well-respected review site. So what do you do? Should you contact the reviewer (or the site) and beg them to remove it? Heck no! In the wise words of my gramma (and probably yours, too) you have to turn that frown upside down!

Why the Worry? They’re Just Words, Right?

When you were a kid, you probably heard that words will never hurt you. But when it comes to business, words from the right person at the right time can be the difference between making the sale or lease…or not.

A lot of it has to do with the customer service we receive or expect to receive after reading a review. In one study, 52% of B2C customers stopped buying after a bad customer service interaction, and that can snowball. Almost 95% of people will share those bad experiences, often via review. Quite a few customers (88%) say they’re influenced by an online review, and 4 in 5 changed their minds before purchasing due to a negative one.

In other words, bad reviews require action on your part before they slowly drain your pool of prospective customers.

It’s Time to Build Your Game Plan

There are many ways to make something positive out of a bad experience and/or review:

  1. Calm down – It’s never good to respond right after reading the review. You’re probably upset, rightfully so! But speaking (and writing) in the heat of the moment can cause more harm than good. Walk away, think about it and plan your next steps.
  2. Focus on the real problem – What caused the customer to write the review in the first place? Is it something you can take steps to improve in the future? This customer may not be the only person with this problem.
  3. Respond, but don’t argue – When people see you responding to complaints, you can earn points back in your favor…provided you don’t try to lay the blame at the customer’s feet (even if that’s where it belongs). In fact, you should probably start with an apology for how that customer feels.
  4. Offer to make it right – After apologizing and empathizing with the customer’s bad experience, request an opportunity to make things right. This will be unique to each situation, but think: What will make the customer feel like they truly matter to you as an individual? This is your chance to win back a customer…and perhaps create a more loyal one out of it.
  5. Thank them – Yes, thank them for sharing their thoughts and experience. Without it, you may not have learned about a problem and had the chance to fix it before more customers had a similar bad experience. One study says that for every person who complains, 26 other customers are upset but silent.
  6. Follow through – After the response, don’t leave your promises hanging in the wind. Take steps to ensure no other customer will experience what led to that bad review.

People appreciate prompt, open communication with businesses—it’s part of the reason consumer-to-business mobile messaging is so popular (no matter your industry: automotive, property management, real estate, etc.). Taking the above steps can help you connect and use the complaint as an opportunity to create a better business for more satisfied customers. It’s all in how you look at it…and act upon it.

Will Your Next Sales Conversation Result in a Referral?

planting seeds

A chat or text conversation may be the first one-to-one connection you have with a consumer today, but it doesn’t have to be the last. With luck, courage and a bit of skill, you can grow one connection into many referrals.

Sales resources preach the value of such referrals—after all, 92% of people trust a recommendation over any other form of advertising, and it’s still an important factor in many auto purchases. But according to Texas Tech, while 83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer a product or service, only 29% actually do. That low number may be due to the almost 70% of salespeople who don’t even ask for referrals. Don’t let that be you!

Perhaps the ideas below will inspire you to keep on asking (and nurturing) those invaluable referrals:

Lay the Groundwork

The road to a good referral starts during that first conversation, whether it happens in person or via chat or text. This is your first impression, so show your competence by answering questions quickly, finding out more about their needs/wants and offering insights. The Hardcore Closer blogger, Ryan Stewman (AKA “the referral king”), preps buyers by saying he not only wants to make them happy, he wants to make everyone they know happy.

Note: Even if your sales team doesn’t personally answer chats or texts, they can be ready to jump on any of those leads sent for follow-up. Don’t let their first experience with you feel like they’re on hold.

Time the Ask

Continue that great experience throughout the shopping and purchase process. Then watch carefully as they take the final steps. You want to ask for referrals “when they’re on cloud 9,” as Stewman calls it. Give them a great experience with a great ending, and they’ll want to tell the world.

Get a Personal Introduction

The best referrals aren’t leaving a name or two behind. They’re personal introductions to friends or family members, ideally in person but more likely via email or a “my buddy told me to text this number and talk to Rich about the T240” message. You don’t want to have to reach out the first time and be thought of as a telemarketer.

Be Unforgettable (in a Good Way)

You made the deal. They bought a car, they’re happy, they even encouraged a friend to check your dealership out. Perfect. Only it shouldn’t end there. Nurturing the relationship can keep you in customers’ minds and encourage a few more referrals down the line. So show that customer you didn’t forget about them when they drove off the lot:

  • Send a “thank you” text (after gaining permission, of course), following up with a handwritten note thanking them again and referring to something you spoke about during the day. Make it personal and prove they’re more than a number to you.
  • Give them a few weeks to get to know their new vehicle and text to ask how they’re enjoying it. Not only could it prompt them to mention you to a friend who’s now looking for a new car, it’s a good chance to remind them about the CSI survey (in case they forgot).
  • Send their car an anniversary card each year—or a birthday gift of a free oil change. And if they come in for service, treat them like alumni stars.

Give Them Extra Reasons to Refer

While you have to earn referrals through great customer care, you’re more likely to prompt people to act if there’s something in it for them. Your dealership could offer special perks to those whose referrals turn into paying customers, or even something for customers who spread the word on social media.

Note: If you’re a member of our advocate community, CONNECT Rewards, you’re aware of how important referrals are to us, too (you can earn thousands of points for them).

It’s Not a Guarantee; It’s One More Swing at the Plate

Even if you have the courage and confidence to ask, the referrals you receive may not be any more valuable than something pulled at random out of a list. That’s to be expected, and it doesn’t mean that your customer cheated you out of a quality referral. It just means their referral hasn’t panned out yet.

So focus on becoming their go-to resource for buying vehicles, filling their lips with great car-buying and service memories. The next time they hear someone is looking for a car, they’ll think of you and send one more sales opportunity your way. The more opportunities you have, the more swings at the plate you can make…and the better your chances at knocking one over the fence.