As Bob Dylan famously put it, “The times they are a-changin.” While once customer communication was a reasonably straightforward affair, today, every interaction along the car-buying journey brings with it many minute, but essential, considerations. Should you cold call? Cold email? Cold text? At which points should these communications occur? What tone should they convey?
Despite the fluid nature of modern communication and the ever-changing rules of engagement, some guidelines can help dealerships navigate the fraught waters.
Opt-in for Success
To start with, remember that all consumers today are bombarded by information 24/7. Between their phones, computers, and other devices, customers are besieged by an overwhelming flood of communication.
Jumping into this stream uninvited is rarely appreciated, even by those who would like to connect with you. If you don’t want to be ignored or blocked, give people a chance to opt-in. Doing so sets the tone for respectful, positive communication.
Equally crucial to 21st-century digital etiquette, make sure customers can easily opt-out should they want to. Creating complicated opt-out procedures might mean shoppers will see dealership messages longer, but they’ll spend that time resenting them.
Adjust to Your Audience
While it’s undoubtedly true that people are turning increasingly to digital platforms to search for cars and auto-related information and services, how they choose to do so is varied. Depending on a consumer’s age and background, they’ll be using different methods to communicate and prefer different tones.
For example, younger customers prefer text and other instant messaging services. They also tend to want a guide who can helpfully take them through the process.
On the other hand, older customers seem to prefer physical communication, either in person or in print; they also don’t necessarily need or want a mentor.
In addition to allowing customers to opt-in, consider asking them what kind of information and which platforms they prefer so you can tailor messages for maximum impact.
Keep Up Communication
The nature of digital communication is such that most people expect it to be quick, if not instantaneous. Additionally, they appreciate that digital messaging is typically not time-bound, meaning they don’t have to worry about dealership hours when they shoot a text.
While responding to messages immediately is not always feasible, try to answer customer communications within twenty-four hours, signaling that you value them and their needs.
When it comes to after-hours communication, try not to initiate. Remember, they are on their off time too, so might not want to be bothered. That said, if a customer opens communication, consider answering then if you have time.
Check Your Work
Finally, because digital communication happens so quickly, it is more prone to and less forgiving of mistakes than some other forms. It is worth investing in proofreading apps and checking over messages twice before hitting send.
Not only that, but keep in mind that though digital messaging is often less formal than traditional sales contact, it should still be kept professional. Checking over texts before they get sent ensures that no lines get crossed.