What is online chat? What is a chatbot? And why would any automotive service business need either for their website now?
Newsflash – commerce has changed. Maybe forever. The way consumers research, select and purchase goods and services has changed sharply in recent weeks. We are witnessing a major paradigm shift in consumer shopping behavior – at lightning speed. The good news is there are actions an automotive service business leader can take now to align their business with fast-changing consumer habits, make their business stronger than ever and be better positioned against competition when the market recovers.
Why Online Chat Matters
Let’s answer the “why” first. Why would an independent automotive service and repair business or even a dealership service department need an online chat platform for their website?
Now, more than ever before, consumers go online to research and acquire products and services. Online research is typically the initial step in a consumer’s process prior to making a decision on a product or service. There are many studies supporting this claim (including this study by Google).This behavior is not new by any stretch of the imagination.
What is new is the level of expectation a consumer has when landing on a company’s website for a product or service they are seeking to acquire. Not only does the consumer expect immediate access to the information they seek, they want it personalized to reflect their unique needs. A recent Salesforce study revealed that 64% of consumers expect real-time responses and interactions from companies, and 77% say a company’s understanding of their individual needs influences their loyalty.
Bottom line, the consumer will move on to another website quickly if any friction or roadblocks are encountered.
Online Search: Auto Repair “Near Me + Right Now”
When consumers search for automotive repair and service (“near me”) and land on a website, the consumer’s expectation is to quickly gain access to the information they are seeking – in real time.
The consumer is not interested in filling out a web form or making a phone call to the business, especially when they are conducting their research outside of business hours when phone calls simply do not work. For example, the consumer may have a simple question specific to their brand of vehicle, “Do you service Honda Accord?” or they want an answer to a question that is a bit more specific, “I have a service light on in my Honda Accord. Is this a service you can perform?”
Website forms do not work well in these situations – a consumer expects a response in seconds, not minutes or hours or even days. Google research backs this up. Mobile searches for “best” + “right now” have increased +125% in the last two years. And, increasingly, consumers prefer texting over phone calls. In the end, if the consumer does not get the information they are seeking, they move on. Consumers today have little patience.
Businesses today have to be aligned with the shopping behavior and expectations for information delivery for the modern consumer, and businesses only have seconds to deliver to a consumer accurate and personalized information.
Online Chat Platforms Deliver an Advantage Through Automation
Automated software tools like online chat platforms can help businesses that have an online presence. A chat platform is an online software application. It sits on a business website and is capable of having a written language conversation with a human, automatically. Chat platforms are a more natural way to engage humans when compared to a website or website online forms which are not two-way or offer a real time experience.
For the automotive service industry, chat platforms can simulate the knowledge and natural language of a human automotive Service Advisor. They can answer general questions consumers ask about servicing their vehicle, or respond with information about the business instead of requiring a website visitor to take on extra work like searching on a website for information or filling out a form. Utilizing an automated chat platform has advantages. Not only can it operate automatically and free up staff time to focus on other critical work, it also delivers a positive consumer experience by offering the instant information a website visitor expects.
Where does a chat platform sit on a website? Chat platforms typically sit in the lower right hand corner of the business website ready to jump into action upon a visitor landing on the website homepage. Some chat platforms stay silent until a visitor engages with it, while others immediately jump into action when a visitor lands on the website homepage – ready to deliver information the visitor is seeking.
There are different online chat platforms, and capabilities continue to grow as the technology evolves. There are chat platforms that present menus inside the chat window to help guide a visitor through a conversation and quickly deliver information a consumer is seeking. More advanced chat platforms are based on artificial intelligence technology that have deep integration with multiple data sources and algorithms to understand and respond to questions with human language and with rich data.
Openbay recently released an advanced chat platform called Otis that leverages automotive service datasets and understands and responds in human language. Because Otis has deep knowledge of millions of mechanical services as well as a tire fitment catalog built in, Otis is positioned to answer complex consumer questions and deliver personalized information to consumers seeking to repair or service their vehicle. Otis can be customized to deliver automotive service provider information and runs automatically 24/7 – operating as a Virtual Service Advisor, an extension of an automotive service business staff
Automotive Service Businesses Must Adopt New Technologies to Win Service Business from Today’s Consumers
From today forward, the way consumers acquire automotive services has changed. It’s a ‘digital first’ approach, with an expectation of instant, personalized results. With information in hand, consumers make informed decisions on a business to service their vehicle.
For automotive service businesses, it’s more important than ever to adapt to meet the expectations of the modern day consumer. The winning formula should include new technologies that can deliver custom information to online visitors at their convenience no matter the time of day. With an online chat platform, or chatbot, an automotive service website can improve visitor engagement and build trust by delivering real-time answers to consumers seeking information on service.
Keywords #: chat, chatbot, auto repair, automotive services, online chat, conversational AI