Excerpts from Digital Dealer cover story:

Especially for Millennials, it seems that voice mail and email are less convenient forms of communication than text messaging. I understand you’ve added text messaging to your vehicle service program. How’s that going?

To be honest, it’s not just a millennial thing, it’s all age groups. Everybody who participates in it really likes the program. We’re using Singlethread for our text messaging program. The solution that Singlethread afforded for us is that is takes them from the very beginning where the customer gives us permission to interact with them. It takes it all the way through to viewing the online inspection to viewing the repair order, so they can pay their bill over the internet as well. They can view the inspection, view the R.O. and pay the bill all through Singlethread texting program, which is really good. Now when they come in the door to pick up their vehicle, all we have to do is hand them the keys to the vehicle and say thank you for your business. It’s really nice to have and saves a whole lot of time.

What are the benefits of texting?

We’re in the upper Midwest, but it seems like people will respond to texting quickly. A lot of employers, at least in our area, don’t want them to be using phones or voicemail or calling on company time. Texting, it seems, they hear the ping and can take a quick glance at it or if you’re in a meeting you’re able to view it quickly and give the approval for the extra one-hundred or two-hundred bucks, whatever it might be, and you’re done. It’s more instantaneous form of communication with a customer, which they enjoy as much as we do because if you work in the Service department the biggest problem you have is contacting the customer once they’ve left the building. One of the more indirect thing people really enjoy is the customers waiting for their vehicle in the customer lounge we can communicate with them via texting, too. So they’re sitting in the customer lounge, a hundred feet away from the service area, and you’re communicating back and forth via texting.

Do you have any texting success numbers to share?

The people who are using it do enjoy it. I would say that we have about 60% participation. Some of the rest of that might be commercial-type customers. You do have older retired people whose whole day is to come and sit in the customer lounge and hopefully they can sit here for two or three hours waiting for their service work. So, you can complain about it but for some it might be the high point of their day. They don’t want to be texted. Or where somebody like my mom and dad who don’t know how to text. The participation rate is fairly high, at least for us.

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