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 If your dealership still has dry erase boards with sales pricing or names for upcoming sales appointments; out of date posters and print material in service; if your staff are leaving voicemails or sending emails waiting for approval (to name a few), then you are guilty as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!
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.
In today’s technology-driven age, there seems to be a disconnect between how individuals communicate with each other and how businesses communicate with their customers. Can you guess what one of the biggest differences is? The answer is text messaging. If you’re like most people, the majority of your quick conversations with friends and family are via text message.
With 98% of smartphone owners using text messages on a regular basis, it’s very surprising to see that only 14 percent of businesses regularly use text messaging to communicate to their customers. Not surprisingly, a recent survey revealed that nearly 90 percent of consumers want to communicate with businesses via text.
Text messaging creates an opportunity for dealerships to share relevant information quickly with their customers. Communicating by text also differentiates dealerships by providing a direct two-way channel to drive added service upgrades, assist with sales increases and improve overall customer experiences.
Here are two key questions that dealerships should consider when evaluating whether to include text messaging in their customer communications.
When asked which communications channel they preferred to use when engaging with a business, an overwhelming majority of consumers surveyed cited a preference for text messaging over other methods like email or voice/phone interactions. Text messaging was seen as being both more relevant and timely than email. Respondents noted they only opened roughly 25 percent of the emails they received from businesses, versus opening 90 percent of their text messages received from businesses.
Dealerships that still rely on email or voicemail to get time-sensitive information and offers to customers are falling behind and are not being heard. Consumers increasingly depend on and demand messaging services that let them interact with businesses in a fast and convenient manner.
There are a number of cases to be made for introducing text messaging into your dealership. Here are some important factors:
Sending appointment reminders by text can help cut down on no-show rates and late appointment cancellations, which can often have the single biggest effect on lost revenues. Not being able to adequately prepare for appointments coming in can also lead to staffing inefficiencies and overall operational performance challenges.
Texting can improve customer satisfaction and overall service experience by providing accurate ETA windows and real-time updates and delivery notifications. Giving your customers a direct line to communicate with their service advisor will provide a level of transparency and trust that your customers are looking for.
Providing images via text message can drastically increase your turn around time for repair authorization. People respond to visual elements, so being able to show what parts needs to be replaced or serviced far exceeds the impact of explaining it over the phone.
Post service follow ups are a powerful way to harness immediate feedback from your customers. Dealerships can send messages or short survey questions and receive a higher response rate and respond to any customer concerns or problems that may come up in real-time.
Dealerships of all sizes are beginning to see the benefits of incorporating text messaging into their communication services and are finding that the transition is not a painful or difficult process, but a rewarding one. Those choosing not to support text messaging are not listening to their current customers and closing the door on potential customers who are actively seeking engagement and an increased level of customer service. As a result, these dealerships are inconveniencing customers and ignoring opportunities to build their brands, as well as falling behind in keeping up with their competition.
Find out more about autoTEXT by VenueVision and the benefits this powerful, centralized texting tool can provide to your Dealership.
Your Service Advisors are part of the life blood of your Service Department. They are generally the first line of communication with your Service customers, and are expected to keep your customers informed and happy. Not to mention also being able to recommend additional services when needed and help increase the overall Service Department ROI.
Yet, every day, your busy Service Advisors are faced with a multitude of challenges that prevent them from fulfilling all of these duties to their best ability. Some of these daily challenges are:
Overcome all of these challenges by implementing a texting solution that all of your advisors can seamlessly use.
A texting platform will keep your customers informed throughout the entire repair process — from Service Reminder to check in, and service completion to Service Follow ups. Don’t get stuck playing phone tag or leaving voice messages that go unheard. Customers find it hard to take a phone call or check email if they are in meetings or hard at work. But they will be able to check a quick text message — 98% of the time to be exact! Over 98% of text messages are read, and 95% of those are read within 3 minutes. If you’re needing a quick response from our customer, texting is your best option.
Texting works both ways. If your customer has a quick question or note, they can easily reach you by texting you directly. You won’t miss their phone call. And they won’t get stuck on hold or routed to the wrong Advisor. With the addition of a texting platform, your advisors voice message inbox will decrease significantly! If unexpected repairs are needed, what better way to inform your customer then by sending a picture directly to their phone. Advisors can send images or videos of the damaged part or area that requires repair to let the customer instantly see what is needed. As the saying goes, ‘Seeing is believing’. This will allow them to make a timely decision and provide that needed repair approval to go ahead.
On top of relieving all of these above noted challenges, a texting solution also:
With texting, Advisors can provide that extra level of customer service greatly needed in today’s fast-past industry. Staying current and competitive is an absolute must! Integrating an effective texting solution will both reduce your Service Advisor’s frustration levels, making them a more productive and positive employee, AND increase your customer’s overall satisfaction and service experience. Now that’s a win-win for everyone!
VenueVision’s autoTEXT solution is designed specifically to address all of these Service Department challenges and more. If you’re looking to improve your overall communication and provide a greater level of Customer Service, contact VenueVision for a demo to see how autoTEXT can improve your Service Department.
It’s no new revelation — in today’s modern world the average person looks at their cell phone 46 times during the day. And that number is probably on the low end for a lot of busy people. Texting has quickly become the platform that people across all generations are accustomed to and comfortable with. Isn’t it time that you reach your customers where they want to be reached?
Nearly 90 percent of consumers prefer communicating via text messaging, but unfortunately only 48 percent of business currently offer text messaging services. Texting is the new standard for customer communication. If your dealership is not currently offering texting to your customers, you could be losing them to the competition.
Texting is a fast, effective way for service departments to communicate, receive faster approvals (and in turn, shorten the vehicle repair cycle), enhance customer satisfaction and shop productivity, and increase customer loyalty and retention. When used properly, it can even help you sell more services and repairs to mobile customers. It’s no secret that service retention is critical to dealership profitability. In turn, being able to provide enhanced customer service experiences will help generate long-term loyalty and customer revenue.
VenueVision’s autoTEXT is an innovative text messaging tool for the automotive industry. Simplifying communication with customers and shortening the vehicle repair cycle, autoTEXT can increase your service department’s profitability and enhances your overall customer service experiences. And when combined with real-time DMS Integration it can be even more powerful. It can save your service advisor time as it allows them to pull up customer information details. The Dynamic Repair Status Link, unique to autoTEXT, provides your customers a direct real-time link to the repair status of their vehicle. Integration provides the ability to automatically text your customers at certain intervals throughout the service repair process. autoTEXT makes sure nothing is ever forgotten or overlooked. And with instant desktop and email alert notifications, your team will know immediately when a customer messages your dealership so you will never miss a message.
Top 10 benefits that autoTEXT can provide: