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I think we can all agree, good communication is key to healthy personal relationships. Its no different when it comes to relationships between a dealership and their customers. A good example, sales professionals who stay in contact and effectively communicate with their customers during and especially after the sale will always be the top performers. By staying connected, they are building long-term relationships which will result in future benefits. For the sales professional, those benefits come in the form of repeat and referral business along with high CSI scores.
That being said, would you agree, good communication between your service advisors and customers could have the same positive benefits for your dealership service department? I certainly hope so, because its absolutely true!
I'm not going to get into service processes, what I would like to do is quickly go through the typical communication string between a service customer and advisor based on my personal experiences from both sides of the service desk.
Here we go...
Customer arrives at the dealership service drive at 9:00AM where they are greeted by an advisor. The advisor does their job of getting all the particulars from the customer about their vehicle; mileage, why the vehicle is in for service, contact information etc. The advisors tells the customer they will give them a call when the vehicle is ready and the customer leaves for work (gotta make money to pay for that ride).
A couple hours later... The technician informs the advisor the customers vehicle needs additional work. The vehicle is not under warranty so the work cannot be completed without first getting authorization from the customer. Its now 11:00AM and the phones are ringing. The advisor is answering status calls, scheduling appointments and at the same time trying to get the customer on the phone to authorize the additional repairs. The customer is at work and unavailable to take the call. The advisor leaves a message for the customer to call back. The customer calls back a few hours later, only to be put on hold as the service advisor is swamped with more calls. The customer leaves a message and the game of phone tag has begun. Its now been 5 hours since the customer dropped their vehicle off and its still on the rack waiting for authorization. The rack is tied up, money is being lost, and all because the advisor cannot reach the customer on the phone. Does this sound familiar?
52% OF A SERVICE ADVISORS DAY IS SPENT ON THE PHONE!
Source - DealerPro Training Solutions
Fast forward a few more hours, its now 4:00PM and the advisor is finally able to reach the customer for authorization, however, the additional work is going to take another 2 hours and will not be completed before the technician clocks out for the day. The customer is upset, the advisor is frustrated as they just got an earful from the customer, and all this because they could not connect on the phone. Its an all around bad experience.
Could this communication failure have been avoided? Yes! But only if the service department had the right communication tools in place.
So lets start the process all over again with one exception. That being, when the customer drops their vehicle off for service, the advisor asks, "Mr. customer, would you like to receive text notifications while your vehicle is in for service today? We can text you when service is complete." The customer says "I did not know you offered that, yes, please text me as I'm not always available to take a call at work." Now when the technician comes to the advisor with additional work requiring authorization, the advisor goes to their PC, types in a quick message and in seconds the customer receives a text about the additional work. Within minutes the customer replies to the text authorizing the repairs and everything is running smooth. The car is out of the shop in record time, the customer is happy, the advisor is happy and the technician is on the next vehicle turning more hours for the service department. Oh yeah, and the advisor never had to pick up the phone!
97% OF TEXT MESSAGES ARE OPENED, 83% WITHIN THE FIRST HOUR
Source - Pew Foundation
Bottom line, for many customers a text message is the most convenient way to communicate. Its fast, easy and a task that can be completed almost anytime or anywhere they may be. Even if the customer is in a meeting or on the phone, they can easily receive and respond to a text message very quick.
In conclusion, offering service customers the option of communicating with their advisors via text messaging is beneficial to customers, advisors and the service department as a whole. By offering the option to text, your dealership can and most certainly will see an increase in Customer Satisfaction along with an overall increase in service department production.
Special Note: I do not recommend service advisors text customers from their cell phones. It can be disastrous for any number of reasons and being they are representing your dealership when communicating with customer, the dealership would be the one to take the hit.
Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any questions about incorporating the right text message solution for your dealership service department.