The chat feature on most dealership websites, as it pertains to fixed ops, could use an overhaul.
Activating the chat system for a service or parts query is often a frustrating time suck. Instead of quickly delivering specific answers that allow me to schedule an appointment, it drives me away. Too many exchanges provide generic information I could have found out myself.
I recently tested the chat features of about a dozen dealerships. The conversation started: "I have one simple yes or no question: Is it possible to schedule an oil change on a Saturday?"
The typical reply demanded my full name and email address and the year, make and model of my car. The response seemed canned; I didn't know whether I was exchanging messages with a real person or a chatbot.
Many Americans are wary of giving out such personal data these days, but like me, they still want instant gratification. Call it the Amazon effect.
Yet chat features appeal to me. I work in an office with open cubicles. My voice carries, forcing my co-workers to hear my phone calls. I can often hear snippets of theirs.
It's not always possible to tune out office chatter, especially if someone has been the victim of poor service and is using lunch hour to phone the offender and straighten out a mess. (I say lunch hour because we'd never — nudge, nudge, wink, wink — make such calls on company time.)