Dealer

Live webchat a huge winner for Florida’s Tire Outlet

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Florida-based Tire Outlet has seen inbound leads from consumers “skyrocket” thanks to a new live chat tool on the company’s website.

Jenn Nicole, Tire Outlet’s Marketing Coordinator, said that over the past 12 months, the company had received almost 900 inquiries through the chat tool. About nine per cent of those inquirers went on to leave a review, meaning they had become paying customers. That’s about two to three per cent higher than the normal conversion rate for enquiries.

The online tool Tire Outlet introduced is called Webchat, from Utah-based consumer interaction platform, Podium.

“In the past, we’ve had other live chat facilities on our website, but the trouble is that after a minute or so, you lose that customer and there’s no way to reach back out to them,” Nicole said.

“The thing we like most about Webchat is when a potential customer leaves our website, we don’t lose them, because it allows us to message them directly to their phone.”

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Data showing the volume of inbound inquiries Tire Outlet has received over the past 12 months from Webchat compared to other popular platforms and services.

Consumer communication preferences are changing

According to research by Twilio, 89 per cent of consumers want the option to message a business rather than call them, but fewer than half of businesses have the capability for consumers to communicate with them by text. Nicole said introducing Webchat had helped Tire Outlet “skyrocket over our competitors” in terms of performance. She agreed consumer communication preferences were changing.

“It’s how the market is going,” she said. “When people are in need of tires or any kind of automotive service, it’s ‘on the spot’ – maybe they’re stuck by the side of the road, and they’re in a high-stress environment. Webchat allows us to communicate with the customer through text, which makes it easy for them to communicate with us in that kind of situation. It is a tool that helps us to answer their questions and to send pictures of what needs to be done, as well.”

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Some of the Tire Outlet team in Jacksonville, Florida.

Chat solution as simple as website widget

So, how difficult is Webchat to administer? Kyle Carbine, Vice President of Sales at Podium, told Traction News it was as simple as adding a widget to your website.

“That allows tire dealers to collect valuable lead information and initiate a text message conversation,” he said. “Because the conversation occurs via text message and not live chat, there is less pressure to answer immediately – although faster responses (within five to 10 minutes) tend to lead to higher conversions.

“Anecdotally, our customers say they get more leads and higher conversions with Webchat.”

Back at Tire Outlet, Nicole said Webchat was “extremely user-friendly and self-explanatory”. “You login and the dashboard explains everything you need to know,” she said. “When I joined, we were just starting with Webchat and I was able to jump right in and understand it.”

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An example of the Webchat interface screen the consumer sees.

Reviews also a competitive advantage for Tire Outlet

Tire Outlet is the largest independently-owned tire dealership in Jacksonville, Florida, with nine stores currently trading and four more on the way in 2020. The volume of inquiries has been so high they are now referred to a specialist call center.

Nicole said Tire Outlet also uses another of Podium’s products, Reviews, which had seen a big increase in the number of reviews left on the company’s website.

“Many of our locations have more than 400 reviews, whereas many of our competitors only have about 60 reviews, so the quantity of reviews helps us stand out,” she said.

“Company-wide, we’re also at an average of 4.8 stars. Our competitors are ranging from 3.8 to 4.3. And all of this is completely automated – we don’t have to manage anything except responding to the reviews.

“Overall, I think Podium is a useful platform, and the greatest part is that you can manage everything in one place. It makes everything so simple.”

If you’re interested in finding out more about Podium’s Webchat and other products, check out the company website.

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