From the Editors

Become more available to your customers

It’s frustrating when a minor question pops up, but it seems like too much of a hassle to make a phone call to get the answer. Yet, it’s also aggravating for a business to know that customers may have these objections, but they’re simply shrugging off an entire purchase rather than dial 10 numbers to talk to someone who could help.

Think this isn’t happening to your dealership? It probably is. Our society is increasingly relying on technology to communicate, rather than talking to others through the phone or in person. As much as that sometimes irks me, I just spent a week trying to arrange dinner plans with a friend via Facebook, rather than take 10 minutes to make a phone call.

So, being a technology-loving person, if I have an issue while shopping online, I rarely, if ever, pick up the phone to ask a question. If a question needs to be answered before I make a buying decision, and I can’t find a solution, I usually back out of the site I’m on and search somewhere else. This could easily be happening to your dealership’s website.

Let’s say I’m looking for specific helmet. I can see from your dealership’s website that you carry the brand, but I don’t see that specific model. Guess what I’m going to do? I’m probably going to go on to the next dealer’s website, or — gasp! — buy online. So how can you prevent this? Think about being more available to customers.

Live chat could work well for dealerships. I recently read a few articles on about businesses with live chat success stories that spurred this thought process. A designer lifestyle brand has found that those who engage with its customer service reps via live chat are four times more likely to make a purchase; an online jewelry retailer has seen the value of orders placed through live chat increase 67 percent; a Halloween costume retailer was able to keep its number of seasonal employees down due to live chat, and finally, a hotel saw bookings increase immediately after it started using multilingual live chat (click the bolded links to read the stories). I thought if this works for these companies, why wouldn’t it work for a powersports dealer?

Going back to the helmet example, let’s say as a technology-savvy 20-something, I saw a live chat feature was available on the dealership’s website. Without having to actually talk to someone, I could ask about the helmet. The dealership staffer on the other side of the chat could then let me know about the possible availability of the helmet or direct me to a better helmet. One less customer lost.

This chat could be available 24/7, or it could be a workday situation, with email available after hours (with emails answered immediately in the morning, of course), as the hotel does. A receptionist, salesperson, or another employee could head the efforts, or employees could take shifts running the chat. According to the articles, there are affordable plans available.

If those options aren’t feasible, consider making a Facebook chat or Twitter feed available whenever possible. These are free of charge and could be leveraged in a similar way.

Being available to answer questions for customers is important to retaining customers and closing sales.

Liz Hochstedler is the associate editor of Powersports Business, a trade magazine for the powersports industry. She reports on the powersports industry through Powersports Business’ varied media, including in the magazine and online. She assembles the brand’s twice-a-week e-news and handles a variety of assignments for the magazine. Powersports Business is known for its exclusive national dealer surveys, in-depth industry analysis and dealership conference, Profit Xcelerator.



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