With texting being as popular as it is, every dealership should consider texting. Nearly half of consumers would prefer to receive texts from their dealer, and that number is growing. Texting is about more than just great customer service – it’s simply necessary in order to stay competitive in the years ahead. There are many texting platforms out there, but not all texting is created equal.
To understand which texting platform is right for your business, let’s explore five different options:
- It gives the salesperson a great deal of control over the sales process.
- Salespeople say they can build more intimate customer relationships by texting from their cell.
- The sales rep doesn’t have to compete with other sales reps for the customer.
Personal cellphones are a liability. Not having the ability to oversee customer-sales rep communication means management risks sending an inconsistent message.
- If the sales rep leaves, managers don’t want those conversations (and customers) going with them.
- It’s hard to enforce compliance with TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act), which can get you in legal trouble later down the road.
Facebook Messenger and other Apps
- Apps and social media are valuable marketing tools, and good points of first contact for customers.
- A healthy social media presence makes you more attractive to customers, especially millennials.
- Messaging apps are sexy right now, but they’re not utilitarian enough to be your main platform for client communication.
- Customers must go out of their way to download the app, and not all of them are regular Facebook users.
- Hiring an an employee to manage social media can be costly.
CRM or DMS
- Keep data and records consolidated in one place.
- Ensure a paper trail all the way up to the sale.
- Many CRMs qualify leads for texting, thus helping you adhere to TCPA guidelines which require customers to opt-in.
- The CRM/DMS user experience is not intuitive – most are clunky and their software is outdated.
- If the CRM offers texting, there’s a good chance texts appear to come from a different number than your main business phone. This creates confusion and a broken experience for customers.
- You may be missing messages if customers are texting the wrong number. Before adopting a CRM, make sure you ask if you can text from your existing phone number.
- The chat box interface makes it easy for customers to immediately start a conversation without leaving the site.
- Most live chat applications are automated, and don’t require an employee to manually respond, which saves valuable company time.
- Live chat is not a frictionless experience.
- When the session times out, none of the customer’s messages are saved, which causes them frustration.
- Eventually, the sales rep is going to ask for the customer’s phone number anyway, so many dealerships are cutting out the middle man and just adding a “text us” button to the webpage.
- The user is anonymous, so it’s hard to follow up with interested customers. The anonymity has other consequences: Dealers from competing businesses can pose as customers to gather intel and gain an advantage.
Existing Business Number
- Send and receive text messages from the existing branded landline, toll-free, or VoIP number your customers know.
- Catch all the messages that come to your business, even the ones that otherwise would have been missed.
- Improve your CSI score by texting your customers through all stages of the life cycle. Prospects that are sent texts convert at a 40 percent higher rate than those not sent texts.
- Apps that are made for business texting offer a suite of features that others don’t, like Auto Reply, Scheduled Texts, and Picture Texting.
- Easy to use on any desktop computer or mobile device.
- Can integrate with CRM or DMS.
- Unlike DMS, a business texting service is not necessarily tailored to the automotive industry. Many are used in a wide variety of industries including healthcare, insurance, etc. Make sure you explore the product’s features to see if it’s a good fit for your business.
- Texting apps are conversational, not automated, so you need to ensure that team members are available to actually respond to the incoming messages.
- Make sure the usage justifies the cost. You should have an enforcement policy like you do for your other organizational tools.
The bottom line is: ask as many questions as possible when exploring your texting options. Ideally, your sales, service, parts and marketing departments should all be texting. Texting isn’t going away any time soon, so choosing the right solution for your dealership can make all the difference.
Leila Mozaffarian, firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-582-3782, is an Automotive Specialist at Zipwhip. Zipwhip has direct contracts with the tier-1 major carriers and serves over 60 growing verticals. Leila works with dealerships to provide texting on their existing business number.