When we initially started our journey to find the best chat providers in the industry, we really thought we would come out of this with a handful of good ones and a handful of bad ones. So far, we’ve reviewed several and only two have been worth recommending to our clients. ActivEngage is one of them.

Like most of the others, they offer a managed and a self-serve chat solution. We focused on the managed solution; I would happily debate with anyone who believes that they can do better through on-again, off-again chat handled by the dealership. Some believe that they can handle chat better than a vendor because they are right there at the dealership. This is the only valid argument, in my opinion, to gain a benefit from managing it themselves. The other common objections include cost savings (it’s minimal in the whole scheme of things), salesmanship (this actually proves to be a detriment on chat), and personalization (it’s chat, not a meet and greet). They all turn out to be invalid arguments.

The way that ActivEngage handles their chats is stellar. Their team seems to be as well trained as anyone (better trained than most) and the company atmosphere is unlike anything I’ve seen at a chat provider. They push each other to do better and act as resources for each other when the tough questions come across. This is arguably their greatest strength.

Another strength that they provide is reaction to localized events. It may be unique in the industry; nobody else we talked to mentioned it. Basically, they take into account what’s happening locally at the dealership to help answer questions on chat. The example demonstrated to me was the Boston Marathon bombing. They contacted their clients in Boston to see if they would be closing for the day and it turned out that a lot of them were. Chats started coming in asking if they were open and the correct information was given. We could not verify it, but it was claimed that testing other websites with different chat providers in the area showed that most or all of them responded with the normal posted hours rather than adjusting for the disaster that was taking place locally. It may not be a common need, but if the need ever does arise at a dealership, this would definitely prove to be useful.

Overall, the company has the essence of strength behind them. They have a great product and they know it. This is different from the false bravado that we received from companies big and small that seemed to be pounding their chests about how good they were without going into real details to demonstrate what they were all about. I was shown pictures of the office, the people who were representing their clients, and it was refreshing.

We were really hoping to post about several providers, but so far only two have been up to par. We have one more scheduled appointment – hopefully we can get at least one more in there. Otherwise, we have two options available. The tough part will be determining which of the two we recommend the most.