It’s ironic that at the same time (but fortunately not the same time zone) this week, I’m doing my presentation on “Automotive Mobile Marketing: Ignore at Your Own Risk” to the Industry Summit by F & I and Showroom magazine, Automotive News in their ‘Power Training’ ongoing education series is doing a segment on “The Power of Live Chat.” Yes, at 2pm EDT on Tuesday, September 11, Todd Smith is doing a 30 minute webinar presentation on live chat to convert website shoppers into showrooms, and on the same day, at 2pm WDT, I’m doing a live 55 minute presentation on what innovative dealers are doing to engage shoppers where they spend the most digital time (as of last year), on their mobile device. My presentation will include a detailed segment on TextChat, which is the next wave in live chat technology, which engages a SMS dialogue from shoppers phone to the dealer’s dashboard (or mobile device, but all chat’s are recorded, archived and sent to any CRM system).
I’m sure we will both be talking about the clear benefits of engaging a shopper with an interactive dialogue at the point the prospect wants to communicate. With Todd it will be with chat on the Web, and with me it will be chat with a mobile device. It is still amazing to me that in this day and age only about 20% of dealer Web sites have chat capability, even though it’s been available on the Web for a long while. And for shoppers on a dealer’s Web site, I think it is still an amazing conversion tool. But the fact is, according to Gartner, the primary way people will access the Internet will be via their mobile (smartphones, tablets), and right now more young adults (below the age of 35), Internet surfing with a computer has already been eclipsed by people by mobile devices, and the momentum in this direction is growing every day. So if you believe that chat is effective to convert your website shoppers into showroom shoppers (and I’m one of those who do), then I think you must have this new text chat capability available for those shoppers who are more inclined to chat with you from a mobile device. (And isn’t that where chat really happens most?)
Don’t misunderstand, the technology for phone based textchat in its current form has only been around a little while, so for those dealers who adopt it on their website, on their mobile sites and on their apps, they can still keep way ahead of the curve. Also, while it is very new and different, and focused on a mobile device, the mobile textchat conversation can start on a dealer’s website, just like regular chat, so the two are complimentary services sitting on a dealer’s home page, giving the shopper a choice, whether he or she wants to IM chat through their computer or SMS text chat through their mobile device. If they intend to shop, ‘on the go’ the mobile textchat capability allows them to do it anywhere, just like regular chat, even while on another dealer’s lot. Have you ever hear of retail hijacking? Just ask Best Buy, more on that in later blogs.
So, in addition to the fact that textchat can take place over the user’s mobile device, and is not tied down to computer or a website, textchat has some other advantages over live chat on the Web.
- Textchat, right now, is a much less inexpensive service for dealers, and costs a fraction of what live chat services cost. Textchat is about 20% of the going rate both for dealer self managed services and for “managed” (where the vendor fields the conversations and acts like a surrogate BDC department)
- Textchat is more time forgiving. That is, someone sitting at their computer screen expects IM chat to be instantaneous, that is, as soon as they begin the IM chat they expect an immediate response, with textchat, as with regular chat, if it takes the responder a few minutes (or even longer) to respond, it’s okay, as most folks send hundreds of texts a day (the average of texts per day now for someone under 35 is 582 and that number is increasing daily), and very few are responded to immediately.
Now you might say, “well all my people have smart phones, and each can respond to a customer cell phone call by text if they want to, why do I need a textchat service?” The answer to that is very simple, as institutional textchat gives all of the advantages of institutional IM chat on the Web, meaning you still have full archived record of every conversation in text on the back end dashboard, and every conversation, shopper inquiry, etc. can be viewed and stored for later review, and sent directly into your CRM system. The last thing you want is “one-on-one” text conversations between a shopper and your sales associates, with only the shopper having a record of the conversation, right? So while anyone from your store can answer a textchat query (whether it comes from your dealerships mobile site or app, or from your dealerships computer based sebsite), from the dashboard, or from any mobile device the textchat query alert is pointed to (you can set this from the dashboard), all textchat conversations, no matter where they are conducted) are recorded and archived on the dashboard and can be sent to the CRM system.
That’s enough about textchat for now, but anyone wants to learn more, let me know and I’d be happy to walk you through it personally, or maybe do a webinar on it myself someday. Or you could always come to the Industry Summit in Vegas this Tuesday 9/11/12 and catch me live talking about mobile marketing.
Remember, according to the latest analysis of global mobile traffic by the network company Cisco Systems, mobile devices will outnumber humans by the end of this year!