We tossed out the gauntlet two weeks ago when we posted an article saying that, for the most part, chat services on dealer websites were not working the way they should be working. One of the biggest complaints that we had was putting up a lead wall. In other words, we found several chat services that made people fill out their information before they were able to chat with someone.

This practice is akin to asking people for their name, email address, and phone number before you’re willing to talk to them on the phone. Chat is very much like a phone call to the dealership in that sometimes people want to buy a car while other times they just want to ask a question. When you put up the wall and say that they have to fill out their information before you’re willing to answer their questions, you’re instantly telling them that you’re not very helpful and you’re only interested in how much money you can extract from them. It’s bad customer service.

Several vendors reached out to us offering to give us a tour of their service. The first we contacted was CarChat24. This is one of the older and bigger players in the dealer chat world – not the oldest or biggest, but definitely on the list. I spoke to both Shereef and Jeff, two executives at the company, and separately received their feedback on their philosophy and what made them different.

I will post a full review once I’ve gone through and interviewed everyone else, but there was one thing that stood out to me that I can tell is something special. The funny part is that in both discussions with the team, they only focused on this point for a little bit. I think it’s huge. It’s all about science.

The statistics that they gather and analyze blew me away. They have been doing this for years, yet they still keep track and make decisions based upon consumer activity in chat as well as good ol’ fashioned A/B testing. It was in the details themselves that I started seeing some of the magic. For example, they showed me a screen that had all of the various operator faces. Attached to each face was a set of statistics. They were able to tell which faces representing chat were most effective to the 10th of a percentage point. They did the same thing with names. To dealers (and likely most vendors) it doesn’t matter if the chat operator has a screen name of “Jane” or “Janice”, but to the CarChat24 team, it made a big difference.

In the world of contacts and influence, taking every possible opportunity to engage with a prospect is paramount. Missed opportunities of any sort can be the difference between a good month and a bad month, a successful dealership or one that’s in trouble. The science that CarChat24 puts into their system was beyond impressive. There were good things and bad things. Overall, it was a strong presentation and a great way to start our quest to find the best chat service in the automotive industry.

More to come on them and others. Stay tuned.