LEHI, Utah — Software firm Podium today announced the launch of Podium Webchat, a new service that enables businesses to convert website visitors into customers by taking those conversations offline to a more convenient channel: text message.

The new feature is part of the firm’s communication platform and is designed to empower car shoppers to text a dealership from its own website, allowing both the consumer and business to respond and initiate offline, in-person interactions.

“By introducing this new feature to our platform, we are offering local businesses the opportunity to interact with customers in a way that fosters stronger relationships across the board,” said Eric Rea, co-founder and CEO at Podium. “We’ve found that many consumers prefer having the option to communicate with businesses via text. With Webchat, businesses can talk with their customers in a way that’s more convenient for both parties, which drives brand affinity and loyalty.”

Current live chat tools were largely built for online retailers and aren’t optimized for local businesses, officials said. Podium built Webchat with local businesses and their consumers specifically in mind, providing benefits for both. With the new product, businesses are able to more easily capture contact information of leads visiting their site and manage all inbound communication channels from one central location.

Officials added that maintaining staff size while offering a better customer experience was one of the main goals in developing Webchat for local businesses. The platform eliminates the need to hire a dedicated staff for live chat interactions since neither the consumer nor the business owner needs to be online in order to communicate with one another. Instead, consumers can share their information with businesses so both parties can continue the conversation on a channel that’s more convenient for them, such as Facebook Messenger or text messaging.

For dealers, Podium Webchat’s user-friendly interface allows them to easily manage and respond to all webchats from a single dashboard, consolidating SMS/text, Google Business Messaging and Facebook Messenger conversations into one place: Podium Inbox.

Originally posted on F&I and Showroom