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Texting is not equal to Communication

The famous Albert Mehrabian developed a communication model in which he demonstrated that only 7% of what we communicate consists of the literal content of the message. The use of one’s voice, such as tone, intonation, and volume, makes up 38% of the message and as much as 55% of communication consists of non-verbal factors such as body language.

I’m sure you can think of a phrase that could mean totally different things should the emphasis be placed differently. That’s why great salespeople excel when the customer is in front of them. They know to mimic customer behavior and use these non-verbal communicators to their advantage and to emphasize and sell. And it works.

Today we live in a new society filled with digital communications – emails, chat, and text, to name a few. The problem is that the more non-verbal communication you utilize, the less effective the communication becomes. Yet we continue to try to communicate with our customers via solutions that, while they may be convenient, are less effective and can lead to misunderstandings.

A big trend currently favored in the automotive industry is texting. While it is very effective for short messages that need quick answers, salespeople who rely on texting to sell cars will find it difficult, or almost impossible, to accomplish what could be done with the customer in front of them or on the phone. And this includes service advisors delivering service recommendations. Yes, I am a huge supporter of texting to improve communications with customers under some circumstances – it is a great way to get hold of the customer and send them a link to the recommendations so you are not playing constant phone tag. But if it is a repair that needs explaining, I can guarantee that the customer is going to have questions and will want to discuss it on the phone.


So let us examine a quick interaction for a service repair, one attempted solely with text and another with a combination of text and voice calls.


Advisor - Text: “Our technician has found some issues with your car, I am sending you an estimate below:
1. Battery failed battery test - Replace Battery - $299.50
2. Remove air cleaner and coil packs replace spark plugs - $214.25
That would be $513.75 in addition to your A service which would be a total of $889.92”

 Customer - Text: “Whoa, hold on there?  Why so much?  What is a coil pack? My car was working when I got there, why a new battery?


Advisor - Text:Our technician has found some issues with your car, when might I call you?

Customer Calls: The Service Advisor talks to the customer and explains that they put the car through multiple tests and the battery test had failed and if the battery was not replaced, then the car might stall on the freeway or may not start in the parking lot, also explains why the spark plugs need replacement etc. Lets the customer know that he will summarize this and send it back to the customer along with the discount that they agreed on.

 Advisor Text: I am sending you the prices as we agreed:
1. Battery failed battery test - Replace Battery - $299.50
2. Remove air cleaner and coil packs replace spark plugs - $214.25
That would be $513.75 in addition to your A service which would be a total of $889.92.  Your discount is $89.92 and we will be doing this for $800 even”

Customer Text: Sure go ahead


While the interaction above is representative of an example that I found in our communications database, the numbers have been altered to protect any proprietary information.  The combination of multiple channels of communications is extremely effective, especially when you have to justify an expense that the customer was not expecting.  


I am a huge advocate of texting and other modern methods of communication to help better service the customer and keep them in the loop on such things as the progress of their vehicle during service, changing appointment times, etc. However, it is not the be all and end all of communication.


Tech giant Apple recognized this problem when it rolled out audio text capabilities. Emojis have become modern versions of hieroglyphics in an attempt to add expressiveness, emphasis, and interpretation to text messages. But they aren’t perfect and an emoji certainly wouldn’t stand up in court as issuing consent, understanding or agreement.


When considering how best to communicate, it is important to factor in which channel is most appropriate and will be the most effective. Every channel of communication has certain advantages but some are simply more effective and reliable than others depending upon the reason for communicating. The magic phrase in my mind is:

When might I call you?


Take a look at how you are communicating with your customers and be sure to choose the right channel for the right circumstance. This increases the probability that your customers will interact with you with full comprehension and without misinterpretation. And that means happy and loyal customers, improved CSI and increased Gross Profits.

Views: 57

Tags: automotive, channels, clarity, communication, convenience, effective, interaction, message, service, text, More…texting


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