Engaging with customers in the service lane has never been as important as it is in 2021. With new inventory thin and pre-owned inventory at historically high prices, one of the best opportunities to obtain those much needed used cars is sitting right in your service lane.
Communicating with those customers is critical to your business, but you need to communicate the way they are most comfortable--which may or may not be the way you are traditionally used to connecting with them.
Make sure you and your team are prepared in the most utilized channel of communication--the phone. Specifically, chat, video, and organic mobile engagement like Google My Business.
Mobile has usurped the lead for devices bringing shoppers to your website and store. When reviewing the marketing for the dealerships we work with, on average over 50% of traffic comes from mobile devices. Customers are rarely more than an arms length from their phone, and the majority prefer text over a phone call.
- 82% of texts are read within five minutes of receipt — compare that to 24% and 2% for email and paid advertising respectively.
- According to Forbes, 60% of consumers prefer SMS marketing over email marketing.
- People are conditioned to look at their text and respond quickly as opposed to an unanswered call from a number they do not recognize or an email ignored or deleted
According to Tina Tasche in a recent Automotive News article, "You can send 12 emails, leave six voicemails and hear nothing from someone, but the second their phone dings with a text message, all of a sudden, they come to life."
Take advantage of this method of communication the right way and it will assist not only with your overall service metrics, but also with incremental sales. As you text a video or image of the repair work that needs to be completed, you can also offer additional options such as a trade-in trade-up or “We Buy Your Car” messaging.
Piggybacking off of the importance of texting, video is also a secret weapon that may be not-so-secret anymore. Specifically, technician videos have been a huge boon to service centers all over the country.
If you are not familiar with tech videos, they are a one-to-one communication between the technician and the consumer. The tech takes a video of the vehicle, highlights what does and does not need repair, and texts this video to the customer. The transparency and trust this develops has been making service managers wonder why this has not been a consistent part of their process for years.
And the bump in ROs is significant.
"It's hard to debate a show-and-tell," Coxall told Fixed Ops Journal. "When you can show a customer a worn brake pad, it becomes a reality. The repair then becomes a no-brainer."
The use of videos can boost a typical dealership's closing rate on recommended service by 25 to 30 percentage points.
According to ELEAD1ONE, dealership customers that use videos typically double both revenue and acceptance rates for recommended service. If you are not utilizing technician videos, it may be time to start.
Why Google My Business/ Reviews
Finally, while focusing on mobile devices and texting, Google My Business (GMB) cannot be ignored. With the ability to create a separate GMB page for Sales, Parts, and Service, GMB needs to be a focus point for all dealership service centers.
Why focus on GMB?
- GMB showcases your service specials and unique selling propositions for your service department
- GMB provides that “0 Click” experience, where customers can be instantly directed to your dealership via directions, click to call, or a website link that lands on your service scheduler page
- GMB houses the majority of your service customer reviews. This is one of the key elements.
Reviews on GMB
Once you have separated your Google My Business pages into Sales, Parts, and Service (which is free to do and provides a wider pool of potential viewership and a better, more specific customer experience), you should focus specifically on the review aspect.
In a customer service survey, 95 percent of respondents who had a bad experience shared it with someone as opposed to 87 percent who shared their good experience.
Utilize texting features to send the service GMB link directly to customers so they can leave positive reviews on GMB. Often, when a dealership separates the departments on GMB, they forget to update the link in the service request communications they send out, and then the service page does not see an increase in reviews. Ensure that your internal team all has the correct link, as well as your external partners who solicit, respond to, and manage your reviews.
Engaging with Service Customers will be key in not only meeting and exceeding your overall service metrics, but also in gaining those incremental pre-owned vehicles that you want and need in 2021. Here is a quick checklist to ensure you are in a good position:
- Texting with customers: Make sure any customer who has opted in will receive text updates on their vehicle as well as appointment confirmations, status updates, and offers.
- Videos (specifically technician videos) will bring trust, transparency, and an increased RO when utilized correctly. There are many solutions that provide this functionality, and a quick search will give you many options to review.
- Google My Business--this is where many people will find your service center. Make sure your page is optimized, the information is correct, and that you are texting out the correct link to your GMB service page when soliciting reviews.