Text Messaging Best Practices and Their Impact on the Bottom Line
by Patrick Southward and William Mapes, co-founders of Singlethread
Service advisors face many challenges in their day-to-day interactions with customers, such as:
- Inconvenienced, frustrated customers that do not want to leave their vehicles
- Getting the customer to understand all the work needed to fix his or her vehicle
- Keeping customers updated throughout the vehicle repair
- Unnecessarily long conversations during the vehicle pick-up process
One of the easiest ways to overcome these challenges is to implement text messaging. A text messaging platform:
- Saves time by reducing the number of voicemails that service advisors must check
- Creates more trust and customer satisfaction through frequent communication of repair costs, vehicle delivery timeline, and efficient vehicle pickup
- Helps the dealership service more vehicles by quickly capturing customer-pay approvals
- Increases customer-pay work by providing the customer repair information in a visual format (instead of verbal over-the-phone)
Once you've decided to implement text messaging in your dealership, there are a few best practices to keep in mind that can greatly affect the bottom line.
Best Practice: Text Message More Than Call
How this affects the bottom line: Dealerships that use text messaging for their ROs (rather than the phone) can expect to generate more customer pay revenue. In today’s mobile-first environment, customers are more visual than ever. They want to know what’s broken, what it will cost to fix it, and when it will be done. Text messaging is easier, faster, and more transparent than a voice call can be. Texting can accomplish these objectives in a matter of minutes rather than dealing with frustrating voicemail and phone tag that may take hours.
Best Practice: Automatically document everything just by texting
How this affects the bottom line: When people are busy or distracted, critical details of the repair can get lost during voice conversations. In addition, if a service advisor isn’t quite connecting with customers on a given day (which happens to everyone), customers can end up confused and frustrated. If your dealership has ever had to make a concession to a customer due to poor communication, then you know how easily this can happen. By texting all of the relevant details to the customer, the dealership will have a record of the interaction and the consumer can quickly approve the job and get back to whatever they were doing.
Best Practice: Provide a mobile invoice before the customer arrives at the dealership
How this affects the bottom line: If your dealership has ever had long lines at the cashier, frustrated customers with questions on their bill, or advisors staying late to re-write invoices after the customer arrives, then you know the common frustrations of payments in the service department. A text messaging platform with built-in mobile payments can eliminate these frustrations. Providing the customer with an invoice before they arrive at the dealership lets the customer review their final charges and ask any questions (or notify of a coupon) before they reach the dealership. Even if the customer elects to pay in-store, reviewing the invoice ahead of time will save valuable time when they arrive at the store.
Best Practice: Provide an estimated vehicle delivery time/date via text message.
How this affects the bottom line: Customers are already inconvenienced when they have to leave their vehicle at the dealership; they are either in a rental car or do not have their own transportation, all while juggling their normal workday. One simple way to increase trust and reduce frustration is to help the customer plan ahead. By providing an estimated vehicle completion time via text, and adjusting as necessary, customers can plan their day while feeling more confident that their vehicle will be returned to them on time. Texting this update to the customer takes only a few seconds, but provides the customer with significant time savings and increased satisfaction.
How to Choose a Third-Party Text Messaging Provider
Many text messaging applications are simple, cost effective, and provide the dealership with immediate benefits. If you decide to choose a third-party text messaging provider, make sure their platform offers the following:
- Certified DMS Integration to reduce double data entry
- Automation to ensure each customer receives vehicle updates
- Easy product presentation with reporting to ensure that each customer gets presented the right services
- Mobile payments integrated directly into the system
- Dedicated service department support to help transition from the phone to text messaging