We all know that texting is the fasting growing channel for businesses to communicate with their customers. In fact, 44% of customers have stated they won’t do business with a company that doesn’t use their preferred mode of communication — text. (State of the Connected Buyer Report – SalesForce) That could be almost half of your customer database that you’re not reaching or connecting with consistently.
Did you know that 90% of customers read a text message in the first three minutes after receiving it? Contrast that with the fact that only 21% of customers even open their emails (2022 Email marketing Stats – MailChimp). That’s a very compelling statistic to confirm the most successful way you should be communicating and sending information to your customers.
Maybe your business is already using texting to contact your customers. That’s great. Being able to text back and forth with your customers, communicating in real time is very effective. But what and how are you communicating?
Here are 10 tops ways to use texting to effectively target, communicate and inform your customers.
Not all texting platforms are created equal. If you’re looking to add or switch to a texting platform that includes some or all of the above functionality, VenueVision’s autoTEXT solution can do just that. autoTEXT can provide integrated texting with automated messages, bulk texting campaigns, customer follow up and so much more. It also has a dedicated text subscription page which allows customers to customize the types of text messages they want to receive. Give us a call or book a free demo to find out all the details.
There’s no denying that technology and mobile applications are running the world, and more importantly, the way businesses and their customers interact.
Consumers have grown to expect and rely on the instantaneous results and convenience of digital technology. Things have been drastically changing in the last decade in areas such as retail, the food industry, real estate and business. Now it’s time for the automotive world to catch up.
In order to stay ahead of the competition, dealerships today need to fully embrace new innovations and adapt older processes to include these technologies. One of the most harmful phrases in business is “We’ve always done it this way.” Today’s rapidly changing business world is not the place for resistance. It’s not productive to keep using old processes that have always worked ‘just fine’.
Dealerships need to graduate from some of the more antiquated processes that hold them back from improvement and modernization. How do you know if your dealership is stuck in the past? If your dealership still has dry erase boards with sales pricing or names for upcoming sales appointments; out of date posters and print material in service; if your staff are leaving voicemails or sending emails waiting for approval (to name a few), then you are guilty as charged.
“One of the most harmful phrases in business is “We’ve always done it this way.” It’s not productive to keep using old prcesses that have always worked ‘just fine’.”
Modernizing your processes is the first step to building a better dealership. And building a better dealership means building a better customer experience. Embracing digital technology and mobile solutions will get your dealership to that level. Here are some common areas of frustration and delay at a dealership that can greatly be improved with new technology:
PRE CHECK-IN. What are you doing to engage your customers before they even come in for service? Are you providing frictionless appointment confirmation and reminders that allow them to confirm or reschedule an appointment? With over 90% of text messages being read, and in under 90 seconds, sending your reminders by text is the most beneficial way for both you and your customer.
THE CHECK IN. You only have one chance to make a first impression. Welcome and inform your customers as soon as they enter your dealership with branded Appointment screens identifying their appointment time and assigned Advisor. Educate and help upsell your current specials with appropriate videos and promotional marketing on digital screens.
COMMUNICATION. Keep your customers in the loop throughout their service with text alerts for progress of their vehicle or unforeseen repair issues. Give customers a quick and direct line of communication to their Advisor with text messaging to address any questions or concerns they may have.
TRANSPARENCY. Provide full visibility to your service customers with detailed videos and images sent directly to their mobile device. Add further value with itemized digital estimates allowing customers to review all recommended work and choose which items they want to move ahead with. This provides a level of confidence over traditional phone calls telling them what needs to be done and asking for a verbal approval.
SALES OPPORTUNITIES. Your sales team can receive details about customers regarding possible trade in or appraisal opportunities. Digital screens can display Pre-owned vehicle inventory to catch the attention of customers in the dealership.
TRANSPORTATION. Imagine knowing at all times where your Shuttle or loaner vehicles are. With the right technology you can provide scheduling and management of your transportation vehicles and loaner fleets to keep all staff informed and organized. Keep customers in the loop about their transportation requests with text confirmations and links to track shuttle location and arrival details.
THE CHECK OUT. Decrease wait times and frustration at pick up by providing a mobile payment option. Allow customers to pay quickly, securely and conveniently ahead of time, and from any location. Give customers the ability to safely provide deposits or payments for parts, vehicles or warranties without having to come down to the dealership or give out credit information.
BEFORE OR AFTER HOURS. Not every customer is able to work within your hours. You can provide Mobile Check-in options to allow customers to comfortably confirm appointments and provide extra details or concerns the night before their appointment. Provide options to collect after hours pay
It’s easy to see that there is a whole new world of technologies available. Technology that can help increase productivity and customer service. Technology that can elevate your customer experience, and in turn increase CSI scores and ROI. Dealerships who embrace these digital and mobile technologies can improve in two major areas. First, it will make all of your dealership processes run more efficiently and profitably. Second, it will drastically improve the customer experience and let your customers know that your dealership is forward thinking.
Investing in your customers and improving their experiences with your dealership will ultimately benefit customer retention and loyalty across all your dealership departments. And that is a very good reason to embrace the digital and mobile future!
A customer at a dealership puts their trust in the service department team every time they bring their vehicle in for maintenance or repair. In a lot of cases, it is a blind trust. For years, customers did not often have insight to their repairs or recommendations that the service team was providing outside of the proposed cost.
But times are changing. Customers want transparency — in some cases demand it. Not only in the pricing of the repairs, but transparency into the actual work that needs to be done and why. Dealerships that acknowledge this need will benefit from the trust it generates between customer and service advisor.
If you do not appear transparent with a customer about their repairs, it may look like you have something to hide, which is never how you want your department to appear. It can make your dealership look unprofessional, misleading, or as if you are keeping information from your customer about their vehicle.
With video and mobile technology at the hands of almost everyone, service departments can provide that look under the hood without the customer having to be there. Technology has made it easier than ever for service advisors and technicians to show any issues they find to the customer while explaining to them why a recommended repair is required.
Communication with video will increase the level of transparency in every day dealer-to-customer conversations about needed repairs. The use of video will help customers understand problems and see the reason behind additional service recommendations. It will provide tangible information they can see providing assurance that the issues being identified do exist. This will in turn allow them to make more confident, informed decisions.
Today’s service customer is mobile savvy. They most likely conduct the majority of business and personal communication on their phones. So why not continue that experience for them? Customers will appreciate receiving pictures and videos about their vehicle on their preferred communication channel.
Data shows that the simple practice of using multimedia, especially video, resulted in a 24% increase in ASR conversion rate. Providing options that target your customer’s needs and preferred channels will enhance their overall customer service experience. A positive service experience will in turn generate more positive feedback on Service Experience surveys and higher CSI scores.
The use of video also increases the likelihood of a service recommendation being approved. This will in turn, increase the overall RO totals for a dealership. According to a recent automotive survey, when dealerships send messages with mult-media, their upsell success rates improved by 6% for messages that contained pictures and by an impressive 26% for messages which included video.
Additionally, the survey showed that the overall dollar value per repair order also increased, with 54% of consumers agreeing to pay more for service when pictures or videos are offered.
Most vehicle owners have limited knowledge of their vehicle’s mechanical parts and problems. Any help that a dealership can provide to shed light on these issues is greatly received. The increased transparency of capturing videos to highlight concerns is the most effective way to provide needed information and build the trust. And video communication doesn’t always have to point out areas of concern. A positive walk around video showing your customer that everything is fine under the hood will keep that customer coming back for future service — and build the trust in your team when there are recommended repairs.
A dealership that can educate their customers with picture or video-based communications will only enhance that trust between customer and service department. The video interaction will increase engagement with the customer and elevate their trust in your department and your staff. Your service advisors will receive more approvals for recommended services and increase their overall RO totals. It’s a win-win for both your team and your service customers.
Yesterday marked the official one year anniversary of when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a Pandemic. At this time last year, businesses around the world were shutting down or moving to work remotely if they could. Businesses deemed as ‘essential services’ were allowed to — and in some cases required to — remain open to provide those necessary services to the public.
But where did the automotive dealership fall? There certainly were a few weeks of confusion and uncertainty. Provinces made official statements within days of the pandemic declaration to clarify what were essential businesses. (Here are some articles on individual province circumstances: Ontario Dealerships Deemed Essential, Quebec Dealerships Pivot to Online Sales, BC Automotive Association pushing for Essential Service Declaration.) Soon enough, it was announced that car dealership Service Departments were considered essential.
Being considered an essential service meant you could keep your doors open for business, and keep your staff working, which was great news. BUT, in order to do so, many safety protocols had to be put in place to be compliant, and that could be a bit of bad news. Some of these changes were fairly extensive, and in some cases, needed to be implemented almost overnight.
Dealers had to install acrylic or plastic barriers between customers and staff members. Every inch of work space, including customer’s vehicles had to be routinely and properly sanitized and protected. Work spaces had to allow for 6 feet of space between each person and a limited amount of customers and staff could be in the building at the same time to ensure minimal contact and interaction. On top of that, all staff were equipped with face masks and shields, gloves, hand sanitizer and sanitizing spray. Yet somehow, dealerships still needed to provide a level of service to their customers that they had grown to expect. That was a tall order.
One of the first things dealerships needed to do was communicate to their customers. First and foremost, dealerships had to let their customers know they were ‘open for business’. Then came the new Covid Protocols. Most dealerships had an updated process for booking appointments, revised vehicle drop offs and pick ups and payment methods — and it was important to get this information out to customers. A lot of dealerships turned to their texting systems to reach their customers. Confirming or rebooking cancelled appointments, sending appointment reminders with details about where to park or drop off keys. All crucial information to making sure everyone remained safe and ensuring their essential service could still be done.
One of the biggest factors that dealers were confronted with from the beginning and throughout this last year, was the need to provide as many contactless services and options as possible. From remote text communication, to safe and simple key drop off points. From secure online payment options to a seamless, physically distant vehicle pick up — the most important element was the ability to provide this with the least amount of contact as possible. Thus keeping both customers and staff safe.
Even with all the technology at their hands and revised work protocols, patience was definitely required on all sides. Dealerships were adding and adjusting their work processes throughout the waves of the pandemic and provincial mandates changed (more than once!) It was a moving target at times. It took months before some dealerships could run with full staff. This was especially true in the Sales department, which were mostly working remotely. Vehicle purchases were being made solely online. Unlike the Service departments that had moderate changes to their processes, the pandemic completely changed how the car buying process worked.
On the whole, dealerships across the country seem to have adapted to this difficult, challenging situation. They have modified and adjusted to their new Covid protocols; with masks, sanitizing and physical distancing almost becoming second nature. Having to run such a tight, guarded ship can actually result in a dealership becoming more streamlined and productive. Increasing communication allowed staff to really provide the next level of customer service.
Now, a year in to the pandemic, with vaccinations rolling out and cases dropping, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Business is starting to come back to normal levels. So, what will this mean for the dealership Service Department in the future? Sure, the acrylic dividers may eventually come down. Customers and staff will hopefully be able to walk around in the dealership mask-less. But what about all the other contactless services that were brought into place? Will dealerships revert back to traditional ways of conducting business and providing service?
If history tells us anything, once society has been introduced to new technology and updated processes, they generally don’t like to go back. Going forward, customers will most likely continue to prefer contactless and streamlined options such as receiving text updates to keep them informed, quick and easy drop off procedures, and providing them the option to pay online. Services such as appointment confirmations, mobile check-ins, booking transportation and payment for services — all done from your personal device — will soon become the standard, instead of a luxury — or in this case, a Pandemic necessity.
At the start of every new year, dealerships should review their processes and practices and see if there are ways to improve, increase productivity and as always, provide the best customer experiences they can. With the start of 2021 and all the challenges that Covid-19 have brought to staff and customers, this year it is even more important to do so.
To help make this process easier for you, VenueVision has developed tools and solutions that can help your dealership start off the new year successfully and keep you growing. Here are 10 of our solutions that can definitely up your game in providing the best in contactless and enhanced customer services.
Using autoTEXT will keep your customers informed through the course of their Service visits with timely text messaging. Automated messages such as appointment reminders, vehicle check in, vehicle completion and service follow ups provide customers with their repair status updates and open a two-way conversation avenue to be in direct contact with their Advisor. Customize messaging for even more customer interaction with Responsive Keyword Texting. Generate automated responses based on customers’ requests for Contactless Drop off details and contactless payment options, vehicle appraisals, Shuttle requests and more.
View all daily upcoming appointments from one page and easily see who has confirmed, cancelled or not responded. Capture appointment confirmations and cancellation requests from Appointment reminders. Send automated Express Check-In link to customers to confirm upcoming appointment details and provide additional details ahead of appointment, including pictures. Be alerted when customers submit their Express Check-In details or when they indicate they cannot make their appointment. Communicate directly from appointment dashboard to reschedule customers who need to cancel.
Provide a fast, safe and contactless payment method. Send mobile links with Mobile Cashier to collect payment and deposits for every department in your dealership. Customers can access the payment portal through any mobile device or desktop computer. Within minutes, your customers can receive a link, access the portal on their device, review their invoice, enter their credit card information and send payment. Your dealership will receive instant notification that the payment was received.
Send important information and promotional messages to a specific targeted list of your customers with Marketing Campaigns. Use this campaign feature to broadcast key dealership changes and news such as updates to procedures and practices, revised hours of operations, etc. Target specific groups of customers with timely offers or specials to help out your customers in these difficult times and remind them that you are still open for business.
Reach your customers instantly with professional digital Repair Estimates they can view and provide approval from any mobile device or desktop computer. Include images or short service videos to provide information and visual reference for your customers. Receive customer approval within minutes with a two-step authorization process. Record and track any recommended services that were deferred by the customer for future follow up and service bookings.
Show your customers how much you appreciate them and ensure they return with Loyalty Rewards. Provide incentives and reward dollars for your customers that can be applied automatically based on a percentage of their service invoice. Rewards can also be applied manually to a customer’s account as a promotion, a thank you or an incentive. And, all of this is done remotely. No physical card is needed to collect or redeem, and there is no rewards program that your customers need to sign up for. It’s a perfect extension for a contactless service environment.
Manage all aspects of your Loaner Fleet, regardless of size. Loaner Manager will ensure your team will never double book a vehicle again. Reserve, book and return all from one easy dashboard. Create customized Loaner Agreements that will stay on file for each booking. Record any vehicle damage, including uploading of images, to be stored with each and every vehicle. Create receipts upon vehicle return for any costs owing.
Shuttle Manager allows you to book all Shuttle and Valet pick ups and drop offs from one centralized location, that all staff can see. View real-time visibility of all vehicles and track location at any time. Shuttle drivers can integrate with Android or iOS Shuttle App and receive all assigned trip information or claim bookings that haven’t been assigned. Send automated link to customer once trip has been started with real-time tracking link so customers will know exactly when shuttle is arriving.
VenueVision has been installing, managing and producing quality Digital Signage content and solutions for almost 20 years. If you’re looking to update your facility, provide information and entertainment to your customers and get away from old school POP marketing materials, then you’ll want to look into our Digital Signage options. VenueVision provides branded digital content on a National level for all OEMs, plus you have the option to add Custom Content or specialty dashboards such as Digital Menuboards, Integrated Service Appointment boards, Featured Vehicle screens and more.
Providing solutions that help dealerships increase their Customer Service Experiences is VenueVision’s main focus, but we also want you to keep your customers and employees safe. With increased Ministry of Health regulations from province to province, we have developed an Employee Screening texting solution to allow your dealership to quickly and safely conduct required daily screening questions for your staff. Track all responses and be alerted with any positive replies.
The start of a new year is a great time to rethink, restructure and refocus. If there are areas or departments in your dealership that are struggling or need attention, one of our solutions could be the answer. Contact the VenueVision team (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like more information on any of our products or would like to schedule a free online demo.