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Chat Live with a Dealer While Shopping Online

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author photo by Autotrader March 2011

The car-buying process has just gotten a little more technologically advanced. On Tuesday, AutoTrader.com and chat software provider Contact At Once! announced a new program that gives dealers the functionality to have live, online text-based conversations with car shoppers viewing their listings.

The program, which is already available to dealers who choose to sign up for it, gives customers the opportunity to get quick, reliable information about cars while allowing dealers to boost real-time customer interaction. A recent study on car buying habits conducted by AutoTrader.com and industry analysts at R.L. Polk found that consumers spend an average of 18 to 19 hours shopping for a car before they purchase – with around 60 percent of that time spent online.

But despite hours of online research, car shoppers usually have limited interaction with dealers prior to walking into a dealership. According to the study, many customers are intimidated by dealer phone calls and dissatisfied with e-mail response times, leading 70 percent of consumers to visit a dealership before making any kind of contact. The live chat function will help dealers build a relationship with customers before that happens.

"Faster than e-mail and more convenient than a phone call, online chat enables consumers to get instant answers to their questions while enabling dealers to begin creating an online relationship with shoppers before they show up on the lot," said Chip Perry, AutoTrader.com's president and chief executive.

The innovative live chat system will be "presence-aware," meaning car shoppers will only be prompted to chat if a salesperson is available, ensuring that consumers will never be left hanging waiting for a response. Additionally, the system allows dealers to conduct chats through iPads or smart phones, meaning sales staff can always be in touch to field questions. Best of all, the chat window can display the name and a photo of the dealer employee chatting, opening a relationship from the beginning of the conversation.

"AutoTrader.com affirms the mainstream status of live dealer chat software and signals a new reality – that dealers not using chat are missing sales opportunities," said John Hanger, president and chief executive of Contact At Once! "We … look forward to working with AutoTrader.com to connect dealers and consumers."

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Chat Live with a Dealer While Shopping Online - Autotrader