By Priya Iyer, Chairman & CEO, Vee24

Auto dealers already have robust websites. A large majority of consumers start their car buying journey with online research, so it’s essential that dealerships have easy-to-navigate sites with plenty of information. The key to success, though, is to engage with online customers and offer the same kind of personal, responsive service that’s available inside the dealership. Many dealers already use AI, chat, and BOTs to strengthen their online service. Those businesses that are going to dominate in this auto marketplace are the ones that also leverage live engagement on their websites to provide the most comprehensive personal service to prospective customers.

Car Shopping Has Evolved

While consumers previously visited an average of seven car dealers before a purchase, car buyers now average 1.6 dealership visits. So, it goes without saying that consumers are doing more and more of the legwork to research their auto purchase online, and auto dealer websites have had to evolve to serve the needs of these potential customers. As many as 54 percent of people say they would prefer to buy a car completely online, without having to leave their home. Many people still want to test drive a car or see it in person before a purchase, but there is no doubt that the majority of the car buying process can be done from the comfort of home.

Eighty-seven percent of car shoppers are starting their car buying journeys online, and these customers are looking for a smoother, more intuitive and flexible buying experience. Live engagement can help auto dealers bring the “personal feel” of customer service to the online experience, while still allowing the customer to shop from the comfort of their couch.

Engaging Customers Online

Customers come to a dealership’s website to see what cars are on the lot, look at detailed specs on various models, or to get a sense of what the price of specific vehicles will be. At this point, many dealerships use BOTs on their sites to answer easy questions and quickly help point shoppers to the information they are seeking. BOTs can help shoppers with all sorts of tasks including completing forms and paperwork. AI-based ChatBOTs are very efficient at qualifying customers and routing them to live agents for assistance when the time is right. These are some of the very basic features most auto dealers are using today, but there is so much more that you can do to refine the customer experience and help build brand loyalty via live engagement.

Shoppers who are connected with a live agent can get an up-close look at a specific vehicle. The agent can use a mobile camera to conduct a guided tour of a vehicle, focusing on the elements that are important to the customer. This is useful in new car sales, but even more impactful for used car sales.  The customer can see the condition of the car live without needing to go into the dealership. This live engagement feature transforms the online car shopping experience by bringing the vehicles to life for the customer.

Live agents can effectively engage with an online customer using co-browsing during live engagement. The agent and the customer can jointly browse different car models, compare specs, add options, and configure a custom dream car. If the customer is ready to buy, live agents can use co-browsing to help the customer fill out applications for leasing, auto-loans, or simply complete the purchase documents, thus completing the entire transaction online if the customer desires that. Providing this level of service while the customer is relaxing at home is a great way to build brand loyalty.

Carrying that brand loyalty beyond the purchasing journey, car dealers can also use live engagement to drive service and maintenance business. Customers can receive regular service reminders or can schedule their service appointment with video chat. A customer can also use two-way video to discuss a maintenance problem with a live agent, allowing them to hear a funny noise the car is making or to see a dashboard indicator that the driver is unfamiliar with. This kind of personal service can help save consumers time and aggravation, which, in turn, can engender loyalty that lasts a lifetime.

Advantages of Live Engagement

Live video, co-browsing, and post-purchase support and maintenance are some of the ways auto dealers can leverage live engagement to give themselves a competitive edge. Having live agents available online beyond the dealership’s regular business hours can also help capture new business that might otherwise go elsewhere. The more an auto dealership can meet customer needs and fully address questions and concerns while that customer is comfortably at home, the better chance there is to build a strong long-term relationship. Customers will go back to a dealer who meets all their needs and provides this level of personalized service.

Live Engagement Is the Competitive Edge Auto Dealers Need

The automotive industry is an extremely competitive business and auto dealers have to take every opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. It’s imperative that auto dealers use all available technology to draw in customers, including live engagement staffed by well-trained knowledgeable staff. Those dealers who invest in the best live engagement technology and staffing will be the ones who capture more sales and draw more repeat customers.

About the Author

With over 25 years of diverse international experience in nearly every facet of software, Priya Iyer is a proven, high-growth entrepreneurial CEO with a leadership philosophy centered on engaging clients and employees to build industry leading SaaS software platforms and delivering exceptional stakeholder value to achieve sustainable competitive differentiation.

Author: Contributing Writer

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