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.
It’s easy to see that dealership processes and procedures will need to be changed to continue doing business during and after the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of these changes may be short term. But there may be some which could become the new 'norm'.
Now more than ever, dealerships will need to be acutely aware of every interaction with their customers, big and small. Providing contactless and touchless services, safe and secure procedures and timely, important information updates will be key in the months ahead — perhaps permanently. Keeping both your customers and your staff members healthy and happy will allow your dealership to stay open and provide the level of customer service that is crucial.
VenueVision’s suite of dealership solutions can help your dealership reach and maintain these new levels of service. Here’s how:
autoTEXT has already been keeping dealership 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 have already been providing customers with their repair status updates. As a dealer, you can increase the benefit of these messages and the information they relay with specific customizations to your wording.
For example, your dealership can provide information on new service hours or procedures in your Appointment Reminders. Remind customers of your secure, touchless payment option in your Vehicle Check-In and Completion messages. Give specific contact information for customers who may have questions or concerns in your Service Follow up messages.
With VenueVision’s Responsive Keyword Texting, you can use your messaging to generate automated responses based on customers’ requests. For example, Appointment Reminder messages can read “A friendly reminder of your service appointment tomorrow at 9:00am. If you would like our contactless drop off service, please reply Drop. Thank you.” When the customer replies with the word ‘Drop’ they are instantly sent an automated text message outlining the procedures your dealership have in place for a contactless service drop off. Use these keywords for customers to specifically request information or other services such as contactless payment, Shuttle requests, vehicle appraisals and more.
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.
With more physical distancing comes more challenges in reaching your customers and conveying recommended service procedures. 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.
One of the best ways to keep both your staff and your customers safe is to 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.
With Mobile Cashier, there are no additional fees or card percentage rates per transaction and no holds on payments that are processed. It is the fastest, safest and most convenient payment and check out method for your customers and your staff.
In these challenging times, showing your customers how much you appreciate them and their business is very important. With VenueVision’s Loyalty Rewards program, you can provide incentives and reward dollars for your customers. Loyalty dollars 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.
All Loyalty and Reward dollars are tracked in an easy-to-use dashboard. Customers paying with Mobile Cashier will be automatically prompted to apply their Loyalty dollars if they want or save and bank for future service. 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.
We understand that these are challenging and quickly evolving times. Being able to adapt, adjust and act quickly will keep your dealership running as smooth as possible. Providing a great customer service experience will always be important, but providing that service while keeping your customers and staff safe and healthy has become the new normal. 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.
It’s become obvious that technology and mobile applications are running the world, and more importantly, the way businesses and consumers 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 current sales pricing, out of date wall posters in service, is leaving voicemails that don’t get heard or calling around the dealership to see who needs a shuttle (to name a few), then you are guilty as charged.
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:
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 appointment reminders, 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.
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 the cashier’s window 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. Your dealership can provide convenient and secure before and after hours drop off and pick up kiosks. No more guessing what keys go with which vehicle. Customers can input specific details regarding their service needs to reduce delays in starting repairs.
As you can see, there is a whole new world of technologies. Technology that can help increase productivity and customer service. 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!
Your customers are important to you, and you know just how busy they are. With today’s technology and busy schedules, people are using their smartphones to complete daily tasks — every day and all day. So why not have that activity include paying for their Dealership services?
An increasing number of consumers are embracing the idea of using a mobile device to pay for goods and services. It’s faster, more convenient and often can be linked to rewards and discounts. Look at the steady and rapid increase of online shopping. Customers love to buy in the comfort of their own home or at work, and on their own time. Even the introduction of ‘tap to pay’ contactless technology is becoming more common place to allow a quick payment option.
In recent studies it was shown that 72% of mobile payment users are Millennials (Ages 18-34) or Generation Xers (ages 35-50). (Source: PEW Charitable Trust survey). Did you know that Millennials represent the fastest growing segment among vehicle buyers and will likely represent about 40% of the US new vehicle market by 2020? (source: Automotive News) That is a lot of current and up and coming customers!
There’s no denying it, customers want hassle free payment and checkout processes so they can speed up checkout and get on with their busy schedules. Dealership customers are no exception. If they can reduce checkout time or pay for services without having to make an extra trip down to your dealership, why wouldn’t they? Still need some convincing? Here are 5 no-brainer reasons why your dealership should be adopting mobile payment technology.
Customers can pay their invoice from anywhere, and at a time that works with their busy daily schedule. They can pay ahead of time and then pick up their vehicle at the end of the day, hassle free, and avoiding that 5pm checkout rush. Or provide payment links for customers to pay for parts, extended warranties or vehicle deposits, without having to come back into your dealership. You save your customers a trip and your payments are received within minutes!
Mobile payments keep both your customers AND your dealership safe! With stringent privacy laws and threats of credit card fraud, mobile payments take the human element out of the payment process. Dealership staff should never be taking credit card information over the phone. You might be surprised how often that can be the case. The process of mobile payments allows customers to feel safe knowing their card never leaves their hands, and your staff no longer need to handle private credit card information. It’s a win-win.
Your customers will notice your dealership is making advancements and investments in their services. Providing customers with more payment options increases the scope of customers you want to reach. Keeping up with technology and customers’ needs is a major part of staying ahead of the competition. And staying ahead of the competition and investing in your customers is the best way to increase customer loyalty and retention.
By providing an opportunity for customers to pay at any time, you provide not only a convenient solution but an enhanced payment experience — an experience that makes your customer feel important and valued. Your customers will also appreciate the control that is put back into their hands. The quick, seamless payment process will impress, and the reduced checkout times will add to the satisfaction of their dealership experience.
With mobile payments, all transaction details and confirmations are digitally captured in one location, eliminating data entry and avoiding the end of day backlog of invoices or receipts. All transactions are recorded and batched by the system, so once again, removes the chance for any human error. Digital receipts sent to customers are also environmentally-friendly as they eliminate the need for paper receipts, so choosing mobile payment technology will help in your dealership’s green endeavours.
Adapting to mobile payment technology is extremely valuable for your dealership. In today’s technologically advanced times, businesses are encouraged to embrace mobile payments to provide customers more payment options. With increasingly busy schedules, customers are looking to pay as easily and as quickly as possible, with the flexibility to pay throughout the day when it works with their schedule.
Keeping up with modern technology is also key to targeting the growing and changing customer landscape. The group of Millennials and Gen Xers that make up the current 72 percent of mobile payments users “are especially compelled by the option to receive rewards, discounts, alerts, electronic receipts, and are the most likely age groups to say mobile payments are faster and easier than other payment methods.” (source: Pew Charitable Trusts survey). If you want your dealership to provide a higher level of customer service that appeals to your ever-growing customer demographic, you need to provide the services and options they are looking for.
In short, the Mobile Payment market has a bright future, as will forward-thinking dealerships looking to stay ahead of the competition and continually improving the customer experience.
VenueVision's Mobile Cashier can help your dealership provide this higher level of customer experience and keep your customers and your dealership safe!
In today’s fast-paced society, dealerships are faced with the difficult position of wanting to accept payments for their customers that are quick and simple. While at the same time providing the highest level of safety and security.
Dealers who take credit card payments over the phone can be victimized if they are not aware of fraud protection practices or are not abiding by Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards. In the case of credit card fraud, not only do the merchants lose the product sold, they are often required to pay back the funds to the financial institutions.
Statistics show that card-not-present (CNP) transactions have a higher rate of fraud than card machine payments. CNP includes over the phone payments where the cardholder does not physically present the card to the merchant.
“Card not present transactions pose a serious risk for businesses and individuals. CNP is the most prevalent type of credit card fraud. It reached $537.3 Million CAD in 2016 and continues to rise.”creditcardscanada.ca
Customers have come to expect secure transactions processed and authorized in real-time. Yet, many dealerships do not realize the risks involved when collecting sensitive payment card information over the phone. What would happen if your customers experienced identity theft and fraud that occurred as a result of doing business with you? Not only would you run the risk of losing that customer, you would have to convince your remaining customers that your dealership is a safe place to do business.
Surprisingly, it’s humans, and not technology, who are the weakest link in the payment processing chain. Staff can account for the majority of data breaches. Having employees have access to sensitive credit card data by hearing it spoken by the customer in order to write it down or enter it into their DMS or CRM system puts you at risk from fraud. Think of all the ways human error can increase the risks when taking payments over the phone:
To be compliant, businesses that accept or process payment cards over the phone need to adhere to the Payment Card Industry – Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS). Here’s a short list of what some of those standards call for:
If you can’t say yes to all of the above, then you need to STOP taking credit card information over the phone immediately and shut off your manual payment on your credit card terminals!It’s not a question of IF a credit card fraud will happen at your dealership, it’s a question of WHEN!.
So, how can you identify a secure technology solution for processing payments over the phone? The answer is simply not to! Don’t write information down, don’t manually enter credit card numbers or store sensitive data at all. The best way to comply with PCI Data Security Standards is to remove that form of payment entirely.
Technology solutions like Mobile Cashier, obtain real-time authorizations securely using a simple, safe and secure payment link. Send payment links by text or email so customers can pay directly from their mobile device or computer. No special software or App is needed. The secure payment link takes them directly to a Dealer-branded payment page to review their invoice summary and then proceed to the secure payment page where they need only enter their credit card and CV numbers. It’s that simple, that safe and that fast.