Technology can help your dealership declutter the customer experience, and the latest tool to do it is through text messaging, says Tim Berman, innovator manager at Constellation Software.
In recent years, dealers have faced challenges such as a lack of product inventory and difficulty reaching customers. Berman believes text messaging systems and streamlining technologies is a step toward fulfilling customers’ needs.
“We want to create ‘wow’ customer experiences,” says Berman. “We’re going to focus on aspects of this business that we can control to do that.”
To accomplish this, dealers must be ready to make changes.
- Efficient & Saves Time — One of a business’s top priorities is saving time and being efficient, especially when it pertains to customer experience. With texting, both customers and dealers can send a quick text and get a reply within minutes.
- Reaches Multiple Customers at a Time — Dealers and businesses can reach their customers at the same time via text messaging rather than putting customers on hold.
- Text Deposits — Customers can verify their purchase by texting a deposit in the pre-selling stage.
- Surveys & Feedback — The texting system gives customers the opportunity to fill out a survey and provide feedback on what they’d like to see improve.
‘Think Like Sales’
Berman suggests recalibrating each of the dealership’s communication and customer interaction departments to align with sales. To build a relationship with customers, he recommends focusing on their needs. He recommends that all departments need to “think like sales.”
Pre-selling can help solve some of the current inventory challenges rural lifestyle dealers are facing. Pre-selling ensures customers will receive their order by paying a deposit. Customers can pay their deposit through a text or using ACH. Berman uses Gravity Payments, a credit card processing system, for customer payments.
He emphasizes the importance of time. In recent years, getting products on time has been a top priority for customers.
“If they can’t get what they want now, they still have a problem to solve. Whoever’s going to solve that problem, gets the business and may get that customer for life.”
Phones, especially text messaging, are the solution. Berman proposes using a business texting system with business-owned phone numbers. By using this system, businesses will attract more customers, he says.
Phone Lines & Voicemails
However, Berman’s other motivation is to free up phone lines as phone calls aren’t time-efficient and create phone traffic. In most businesses, the traditional form of customer experience is a receptionist answering phone calls. While having a “personal touch” is preferred, phone calls often lead into holds, wasting both the business and customer’s time. Another form is an automated answering machine, often resulting in voicemail and making it difficult to reach a live receptionist.
It can also be hard for businesses to get a hold of customers over the phone. Berman gives the example of customers not checking their voicemail, avoiding answering unfamiliar numbers or having full voicemail boxes. When this occurs, he suggests following up with customers through a text. If dealers adopt the text-messaging method, 80% of voicemails can be eliminated, saving time and being more efficient.
Some dealers opt to go straight to hotlines designated to different departments, meaning that customers can press a number to reach the department directly. An idea Berman has is texting a number to get a hold of the contact.
Another problem a business’s phone line faces is the reason for calls. Sometimes customers call to ask a quick question that could be asked in a text like asking for a quick update or if they have their item in stock. And then there are times when a phone call is necessary for customers with an urgent question or matter.
If your dealership wants to keep its phone line, Berman suggests mentioning to customers that they can text the dealership while on hold, which encourages customers to reach the business through a text.
A benefit of the texting system is that it communicates with customers throughout the service cycle. For example, when service is done and the equipment is ready to be picked up or delivered, customers are informed through a text. According to Berman, when a customer gives the OK, it eliminates the “he said, she said stuff.” During this time, customers can pay their deposits. This system prevents miscommunication and forgotten pickup and delivery tasks.
Using a live chat feature on your website is efficient as it allows customers to communicate with dealership staff on both their laptops and phones. If contacted after hours, customers will receive an automated reply, such as “Hey, it’s after hours and we’ll get back with you ASAP,” he explains.
If contacted during regular business hours but a member of your staff can’t answer immediately, customers will receive a reply such as “Hey, we’re helping some other customers, but we’ll get with you soon.”
The business texting system will also encourage customers provide feedback concerning their interactions with the business. Surveys will reveal how a business’s customer experience is perceived and areas to improve on.
The texting tool has a compound effect across all departments, Berman says, by streamlining communication.
“Standalone, some of these changes may only make a minor difference, but put them all together and think about what it’s like for the customer. They can easily find the status of their repair without ever leaving a voicemail, without really having to stop what they’re doing and get a response within minutes or even seconds. Or they’re checking on pricing or availability for something and they even get a quote by text. You can text PDFs with most business texting systems.”
Texting will eliminate log jams. Pickup and delivery jobs are often abandoned due to a lack of communication. However, with texting, both employees and customers can have efficient communication about when and where to do drop-offs and pick-ups. Texting deposits will ensure these important service jobs are paid.
Overall, the business texting system makes the process of customer experience easier for both the dealership and the customers. It is quick, easy and communicative. In the time when people communicate via text, this system will make dealers “the easiest to do business with,” as Berman says.