Click to Call Helps Chrysler Drive Traffic to Dealers

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Like most automakers, The Chrysler Group uses its branded Web sites as a destination for prospective buyers seeking information on their dream car. And because Chrysler Group doesn't sell cars online, it uses the channel to drive these potential buyers to local dealerships.


But Chrysler Group, a unit of Daimler Chrysler, Auburn Hills, MI, wanted to pave the way from Web site to dealership a little more smoothly. Consumers sometimes couldn't locate the product information they wanted. And the company risked losing such potential customers who decided to abandon their online searches, so the automaker added technology to its sites to let visitors get immediate answers to questions. Then, if appropriate, the system can seamlessly direct those visitors to a dealership.


"We were viewing the whole notion of abandonment and where potentially our consumers would abandon our site," said Bonita Stewart, director of interactive communication at Chrysler.


The traditional online "shopping cart" for The Chrysler Group and its branded Web sites (Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge) actually appears in the form of the "Build & Price" feature, which lets site visitors get pricing and configuration information about a vehicle.


To ensure that those visitors could build and price their desired vehicles, Chrysler implemented Push to Talk, a click-to-call technology from eStara, Reston, VA, that connects these potential customers with a live Chrysler contact center representative by telephone without leaving the Web site. The click-to-call technology also has been implemented on the "Get a Quote" feature.


While viewing a Chrysler branded site, visitors click on a telephone receiver icon inviting them to talk with a representative. Another box opens in which visitors enter the phone number at which they wish to be contacted as well as when (for example: now or in five minutes). If the visitor prefers, he also can talk with the representative over the computer. The customer is given more information about a product and is asked whether he wants to be transferred to a dealer.


"We let the dealer pick up the call, and the call center hangs up," Stewart said. "And then [the customers are] at the dealership, so to speak."


Stewart noted that the contact center reps know nothing about the customers when they take the call -- except for their phone numbers.


According to Stewart, 80 percent of calls generated through the click-to-call technology were transferred to local dealers. Of those calls, 15 percent closed the sale, she said.


"Even though we call it our shopping cart, [customers] cannot consummate the sale online," she said. "They have to get to a dealer. So to be able to transfer 80 percent of them to a dealer is significant for us because that allows them to continue moving through the purchase funnel."


The click-to-call feature also has served to solicit customer feedback, which Chrysler uses to improve its Web sites. Chrysler Group receives detailed monthly reports that are separated by brand and show the automaker which products have yielded questions from consumers.


One way the company used feedback to improve the customer experience: It was revealed that the contact center received many inquiries about vehicle incentives, so the sites were restructured to make such information more visible. That's why this information is now featured on the home pages.


Stewart said the company is looking at other ways to use click to call. The next area Chrysler may address is financing.


"We believe that the click-to-call [feature] helps us in terms of increasing our customer satisfaction," she said. "It's currently more on the front end, which is more of a prospect for us. So we're actually providing a service. I think as we continue to explore how click to call could be utilized, there could be other areas within the ownership cycle where it could be used."


Marji McClure covers CRM and analytics for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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