One of the biggest objections I hear from dealers, “We don’t want to bother our customers on their phone!”. This is a valid concern and wise to be cautious on any type of communication with a customer or potential customer. But a forward-thinking dealership should recognize those customers that DO want to be contacted on their mobile phone and find the most effective way to accommodate them.
One of the most underutilized aspects of mobile is the service-oriented communication and transactional messaging it provides. Set aside the weekly marketing text message about your event or the sales specials to drive door swings immediately and consider the daily opportunity you have with customers through your service department. In most every dealership service is a fixed cost you manage. You have X number of service technicians on an hourly wage and the more work you bring in the more revenue you generate right? Customers appreciate convenience and clear communication in every business they interact with, so what are you doing to drive more customers to this area of your business?
A recent survey conducted asked consumers their preferred method of being contacted for service-related issues:
- 2% on a tablet
- 6% showed no preference
- 9% on desktop computer
- 12% on laptop computer
- 70% on mobile phone
It’s abundantly clear the mobile phone is where your customers want to be contacted. Consider service communications as a non-marketing mobile touch point. You are assisting the customer in a very meaningful way without pressuring or urging them to purchase.
Elements for Mobile Success
Here are a few things you need to successfully implement mobile into your service department.
- A mobile application that customers can submit service requests.
- A mobile-friendly website that also allows customers to submit service requests.
- A two-way SMS system that will allow your service writers the means to message with customers one to one about the work being done.
Has your service manager ever been faced with days without a full calendar of service appointments? Why go through the day hoping customers will come in when you can initiate contact with customers that have previously brought their equipment in through a quick text alert. You can send a message to strategically chosen customers to book an appointment for that day and get a small discount or offer. This is incremental revenue you weren’t likely going to get but you’ve also solidified your relationship with a loyal customer by going above and beyond to take care of their investment.
I hear it quite often the amount of time and resources required for a dealer to communicate with a customer on service work being done. Equipment comes in for work then the customer should be asked to provide a mobile number so they can be sent a message when work is completed. Customers readily comply with the request. But more importantly it now gives your service writers a way to speak to the customer without bugging them with a phone call. If there’s additional work required the customer can receive a text about the details and can approve that work instantly. This also provides a record of the authorization through the messaging software for the dealership.
Dealerships in the northern part of the U.S. use two-way messaging to alert customers it’s time to get their motorcycle out of winter storage and get it ready for the upcoming riding season. Customers get a brief text alert asking when they would like to get their bike. The customer can then respond to the dealership with the day/time they want to pick up their bike. In several cases customers requested delivery and this added additional revenue to the dealership. Customers were also asking about service work status before they picked up their bike and the dealership was able to confirm the work via text. Every customer contacted via SMS was 100 percent positive and appreciated the convenience of communication. How often does your service department get 100 percent positive feedback when communicating with customers?
Again, the simplicity of mobile delivered on it’s effectiveness. Nothing was new about storing bikes or delivery or service work being done, but the channel in which customers were contacted created an efficiency unmatched by any other previous methods used.
A transactional message strategy for your service department can yield untold benefits. The incredibly small investment required on your part to implement the technology will pay for itself quite literally in as little as one day. And once you’ve shown your customers how useful mobile communication is it opens the door for more opportunity in many other parts of your dealership.
Ron Cariker is owner/president of 7 Media Group, a diverse mobile marketing firm based in the U.S. and the leading mobile provider for the powersports industry. Ron and his company have worked with over 100 dealers across the U.S. for the past 6 1/2 years. He speaks extensively across the U.S. and internationally about the mobile industry and mobile education. Ron also formed a partner company called Ready2Ride exclusively for the powersports industry. This new mobile solution combines SMS, mobile application, mobile web, analytics and much more.