Done right, texting is a fast, effective way for service departments to communicate, enhancing customer satisfaction and shop productivity. Done wrong, it can lead to misunderstandings and disputes. Here are tips from Bill Wittenmyer, a partner at ELEAD1ONE, which provides software for dealership service, sales and marketing operations.
Texting do's and don'ts
- Text strategically: Use texting to remind customers about needed maintenance and service appointments, get approval for repairs and give status updates on such things as parts delivery. Know how and when to text for best results.
- Get permission: Verify customers' contact information regularly. Allow them to protect their privacy by opting out of texting.
- Keep a file: Automatically record all inbound and outbound text messages in the dealership's customer relationship management system. That communication history will help protect you if a customer disputes an authorized repair.
- Keep it personal: Use auto-replies sparingly. Tailor texts to customers' requests. Let each customer know how a repair is proceeding.
- Keep it short: For relatively routine messages such as appointment reminders, keep the text brief and to the point so a customer can read it quickly.
- Show and tell: Include videos in texts to show a vehicle walkaround or needed repair. The videos can include voiceover explanations.
- Be clear: Messages seeking customers' permission for repairs should include precise instructions to approve or decline, as well as a phone number or link to ask questions.
- Finish strong: Text customers to let them know when their vehicles are ready for pickup. Include clear instructions about payment.
- Cut corners: You still must keep records of customer approvals in the event of a complaint. Remind employees who text of the need for documentation.
- Send junk messages: Don't abuse customers' patience with irrelevant or promotional texts.
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