Most people check their mobile phones within five minutes of waking up. According to a study by Deloitte, people in the United States across all age groups check their phones 46 times during the course of a day. That number could be as high as 150 times a day, based on a trends report by Silicon Valley venture capital leader Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Regardless of the actual number, this is great news for auto dealerships and their customers.
Putting Communication in Context
One of the bigger time sinks facing a dealership has always been the time it takes to contact and hear back from their Service customers with authorizations. If you had to order a different part or change a service repair order, for instance, you couldn’t do it without first getting the customer’s permission. You might try calling the customer and end up in a game of phone tag. You might leave a voice mail message, not knowing if your customer ever listened to it. Or you might send an email notification to the customer, an undependable approach in the days of spam and spam filters.
This often meant keeping the customer’s car longer; and the longer you kept it, the longer they went without benefiting from its use. Car owners, like everyone else, have busy lives. They need to fit getting their vehicle serviced or repaired into their schedules.
The process is already disruptive, from their perspective, and delays only make it more so. Put another way, Service delays do not often result in high CSI ratings or help create loyal customers.
Mobile communication changes all of that.
Texting is the New Rule
Texting is a quick and easy way to keep in touch, especially when a phone call might be considered intrusive or when the person you’re trying to reach is unavailable.
Several studies point to the popularity of texting. According to the Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans text regularly, including 97% of American adults who text weekly. Relative to other common forms of communication, Americans text twice as much as they call, on average, per a Nielsen report.
Text messaging is popular because it is convenient. According to CTIA, it takes the average person 90 minutes to respond to email, but only 90 seconds to respond to a text message. I’d like to share one more data point: based on a Harris Poll, 64% of all consumers are likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers texting as a Service channel.
Mobile Means No Surprises
What your Service customers want to know hasn’t changed: what’s wrong with my vehicle, what are my repair options, how much will it cost to fix, is it covered under warranty, when will my vehicle be ready? What’s changed is how easy and fast your department can answer their questions. Frequent communication via texting helps build more trust and results in greater customer satisfaction.
A dealership’s mobile communication with its customers is not limited to phones. Tablets offer many of the same benefits of a mobile phone but also provide a more visual and larger display format. Service managers and technicians could easily text the customer pictures or videos of the work that’s proposed, underway or done. This is a big improvement over trying to explain repair changes over the phone or waiting for a customer to show up for a walk-through inspection of their vehicle.
Implementing a mobile payment process can be easier on both your customers and your Service department. Texting a mobile invoice before the customer arrives, for example, gives the customer a chance to review their final charges ahead of time. This minimizes last-minute questions and reduces long-lines at the cashier.
Are landline phones or email systems going away? No. But it may be time for your dealership to create a mobile communications platform—after all, it’s how your customers prefer to be contacted.
Author: Patrick Southward
Patrick Southward is co-founder of Singlethread. Patrick’s career began in his family dealership while he was in his early childhood. Always one to pursue a challenge, Patrick climbed the ranks of his family store in Michigan but pursued even greater challenges across the United States in Southern California with the David Wilson Automotive Group. Patrick’s years of dealership experience lend Singlethread a real-world perspective that few can match.