This morning, I dropped off my 145-pound Newfoundland, Tess, to be groomed. I scheduled and paid over the phone, and then I received reminders via text. When I arrived and texted PetSmart, an employee met me at the front door to escort Tess to her appointment.
Wow! It was like a concierge service, and I found myself wondering: why hasn’t it always been done this way?
Like so many aspects of our daily routines, communication has changed and evolved drastically since COVID-19 usurped control of our lives. In the past, consumers may have been opposed to this method of communication, but now, customers are demanding ways to meet their normal needs while social distancing.
In response, businesses have adapted creatively to customers’ concerns and are using text messaging in ways it’s never been used before. Texting is the new trend, and I really like how it’s being incorporated to improve consumers’ lives.
Texting is the preferred method of communication for American consumers. While 80% of phone calls go to voicemail and the average voicemail response rate is under 5%, text messages boast an open rate of 99% and an average response time of just three minutes.
Using text messages effectively allows your clients to spend more time doing the things that matter to them most and to enjoy a lightened load, and it can also help you manage your life better, both personally and professionally.
Fill Your Bays
I completely forgot about my dentist appointment last month until I received a reminder text, and you can rest assured that I’m not the only one whose hectic schedule can lead to forgotten appointments.
Texting is a simple tool that can be used to remind customers of upcoming service appointments or the need to schedule routine maintenance. It can also be used to maintain customer loyalty by sending out occasional auto care tips, demonstrating you care about your customers’ vehicles, which will create a favorable impression that ensures they’ll think of you when they need service or are ready to buy a new car.
No Entry Required
With social distancing at the forefront of most people’s minds, many folks are leery of entering public spaces. No-contact drop-off and pick-up offerings help customers feel safer and increase confidence that their health is important when dealing with your business.
During my last service appointment, I texted once I arrived at the designated drop-off area, they retrieved my Jeep, and I was on my way without ever coming into close contact with another person. Upon pick-up, I texted to alert them to my arrival, and my keys were returned to the vehicle for me to drive away after paying, which was also handled by text.
Most consumers now prefer to pay by text, and offering this convenience can help your dealership stand out, but make sure to use a secure virtual terminal if you need to store a customer’s credit card information.
Keep Customers Informed
I recently discovered Instacart, a service for ordering groceries, and though I was skeptical at first, it didn’t take long for me to become a convert! I receive a text when they start shopping, if they have an issue locating a specific item, when they check out, and when they’re near my house.
Frequent communication and transparency are crucial to consumers, especially when it relates to their vehicles. Texts can be used throughout the entire process: to provide general updates, to collect documentation needed for the repair, and to share photos and videos of concerns as well as completed repairs.
Regularly updating customers assures them that their vehicle is being prioritized and prevents them from calling for updates, allowing staff to remain focused on vital operations.
Give Customers the Gift of Time
Perhaps my favorite feature of the Instacart app is how it shows how much time I’ve saved by not shopping myself, and I’ll be using Instacart long after social distancing mandates have lifted.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from car shoppers and customers seeking automotive repair services is the amount of time it takes. Let’s face it – everyone is always busy, and being able to save your customer a little time is huge!
You can also use texting to save yourself some time. Many services and products are available to help businesses successfully implement and schedule automated text message campaigns, reducing administrative burden, without sacrificing communication and customer satisfaction.
Related: Why Are Service Departments Still Not Texting?
Every Thursday, I order pizza from my favorite spot. Why? Well, every Thursday, I know I’ll receive a coupon via text, so I wait for that coupon and look forward to my weekly pizza night.
Offering specials, discounts and rebates through texting is highly effective and can be tailored to coincide with periodic maintenance reminders. Likewise, texts can be used to promote loyalty programs and referral deals.
You already know that online reviews are key to effective marketing; yet, although 70% of customers will leave a review if asked directly, many business owners dread the ask. Texting is a painless way to request a review and move on with your day.
Boost Customer Service Ratings
Texting provides your dealership and service department with a competitive edge, and many automakers and shops are already using this valuable tool. Most customers prefer texting for customer service inquiries and updates since it’s quick and engaging.
As consumers grow increasingly accustomed to operating in today’s business world via text message, this new normal is cementing itself as a likely fixture for the foreseeable future.
We all know customers want a good experience, but delivering what they want before they even ask is a surefire way to boost customer service ratings!
Did you enjoy this article from Jody Devere? Read other articles from her here.
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This has been a JBF Business Media production.