Give Your Clients What They Want. Text Them!

-By Kristopher Hampton of sw Service Solutions for AutoSuccess Magazine.

One of the biggest complaints in our industry is “No one ever called me.” Most service managers hear this at least once a day. After you have established that a call was actually made, you may hear, “I never listen to my voicemails anymore so I didn’t get your message.” Yet the client is still mad because somehow it’s your fault they didn’t receive your communication.

What if your advisors sent a short, yet effective text? Research shows over 55% of Americans prefer texting to emails or phone calls, and 90% of text messages are read in less than 3 minutes (Pew research center). This alone is reason enough to use text messaging as a primary form of communication with your guests. But have you ever thought about the increases you could get in customer satisfaction and production? Yes, I said production! Think about how much more efficient your advisors and technicians could be by getting immediate responses. Think about how much more satisfied your customers will be with an immediate notification of a diagnosis or completion.

If you have a text system in place – don’t stop reading yet! I work with a lot of stores that have the ability to text through software, but they never trained their employees how to use it effectively. First let’s get a clear understanding of why texting has become so critical to your client communications.

The Dopamine Effect

Dopamine is a chemical that gets released when we get excited or have a positive emotion towards something. Greeting cards, flowers, favorite foods, a great work out, or even the notification of a text can cause a release of dopamine in your body. Have you ever been sitting alone and started feeling like no one wants to talk to you because your phone hasn’t made a noise for a while? No calls, no texts, and not even any emails!? You crave a dopamine release! Text messaging has become the most frequent cause of the release of dopamine. It feels good to know that someone wants or needs to communicate with you. I recently heard an expert describe texting as “The slot machines of today’s society” because we have become addicted to this frequent dopamine release. How do we utilize the Dopamine effect in our Fixed Ops Department effectively?

Implement cell phone policies in your dealership.

Most new systems have a talk to text feature. The messages will comes to your team in an email, and return messages are delivered as a text. This is a much better option then having your team carry around and use personal cell phones while writing up guests. A cell phone in hand make guests feel as if they don’t have their advisor’s undivided attention. Consider investing in a system that all your BDC, Fixed Ops Staff, and even sales staff can use to its full potential.

Train each team member precisely how and when they should use texting.

This should be in the form of an all company/department meeting. Make everyone aware that texts are used to update and inform not to sell. Create text templates for each department similar to these examples:

  1. Check-in times/appointment reminders 48 hours in advance.

“Your check-in time is reserved to service your 2015 Chevy Impala Thursday July 24th at 9:00am. Please type C to confirm or R to reschedule.”

This method will significantly reduce your no-show rate.

  1. Completion text for waiters

“Your vehicle service is complete. Please see your advisor, Kris, to get back on the road. Thank you for your business!”

This simple message will get to your waiters faster then your advisor can break away and go to the waiting room which gives the illusion that their car was finished faster. Of course if your advisor has the time, a personal approach is better, but often your customers have left the waiting area.

  1. Estimates:

“Mr. Johnson, this is Kris from XYZ Motors. Please call ###-#### ext. ### at your convenience to discuss the diagnosis of your vehicle.”

Keep it short and sweet by getting straight to the point. This message will eliminate voicemail delays and increase production.

  1. Updates

“Mr. Johnson, this is Kris from XYZ Motors. Your certified technician is still diagnosing your vehicle. Rest assured you are in good hands. I will text you between 2 and 3pm with another update.”

By letting your guest know when to expect another follow-up, we eliminate a lot of anxiety and incoming calls.

  1. Car is ready for pick-up when they are not a waiter.

“Great news Mr. Johnson, we have your 2013 Prius complete and ready to go. Please see me (Kris) for pick up and remember to replace fuel in your courtesy vehicle. What time can I expect your arrival for pick-up?”

Giving your team these easy examples will help insure that they will not over-text by giving too much information. What they say will be simple yet effective.

Take a moment to rate your stores text messaging capabilities. What would you give yourself on a scale of 1 to 5? How could you improve this number ASAP? Of course you’re going to have a few guests that still prefer phone calls, but shouldn’t we give our clients a choice? After all I could stand a little more dopamine in my life. How about you?

Kristopher Hampton is the VP of sw Service Solutions which offers in-store training nationwide and innovative on-line training through Fixed Ops University. Kris has been training service advisors and managers for over 8 years and has 20 years of customer service experience.

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