The independent automotive industry communicates with a significant number of new customers day to day as well as having to keep existing customers informed.  Service garages and car dealerships are under more pressure than ever to enhance customer satisfaction and make the sales and service process more efficient.  So, the question is what tools do independent garages and dealers have at their disposal to establish loyalty and generate repeat business?

Well, more and more businesses are turning to SMS communication to help boost conversion rates, foster loyalty and build lifelong relationships with their customers.  By 2017 the number of mobile phone users across the world is forecast to reach 4.77 billion and with most people keeping their mobile phone on their person 24/7, SMS is rapidly becoming the fastest growing, most cost effective and efficient communication channel.

As we all know, emails are all too easy to ignore and it can often be difficult to contact a customer by phone at a convenient time.  So, why not take advantage of the everyday technology that the majority of the population uses to stay in contact with each other and integrate SMS into your communication strategy?

Around 98% of all SMS messages are opened within just 90 seconds of receipt so garages and dealerships can be assured that their customers are receiving and engaging with their communications.

Our My Service Trust product enables service garages to benefit from packaging their personalised customer videos into a fully branded SMS where they can add a clear and simple call to action for the customer. Our customers have found this to be particularly beneficial, especially as trying to get a hold of the customer (during a busy work day) to seek authorisation of the repair works has often been a major hurdle in the past!  Customers treat SMS as deeply personal and therefore the simplest of messages can deliver terrific response rates.

SMS is proving to be a great way for garages and dealerships to remind customers about their brand and services, reward repeat customers and ultimately build customer loyalty.  The key benefits of SMS include:

  • Send personalised car sales and/or servicing videos
  • Share details of new car launches with the opportunity to pre-book a test drive
  • Send reminders about vehicle services, MOT’s, test drives, warranty expiration and when lease payments are due, etc.
  • Reward customers with coupons, offers and seasonal discounts
  • Send invites to upcoming events
  • Share safety tips, reminders to check tyre pressure and oil levels etc.

Promote continuous improvement through ‘what did you think of our service’ customers surveys

There are endless ways in which garages and dealerships can use text messaging to communicate with customers, just a few examples include:

  • “Your car is now due its service, please contact our Service Department and we will be delighted to book you in at a convenient time for you.”
  • “Thank you for servicing your car at Jo Bloggs Garage – we look forward to seeing you in Winter.”
  • “The brand new Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid has arrived!  Call our showroom today and we will be happy to book you in for a test drive.”
  • “Your tyres are probably due to be changed now, please contacts us on X and we will arrange a date and time to change them for you.”

According to recent statistics, over 75% of customers would prefer offers sent via SMS rather than seeing adverts on mobile apps or whilst browsing the internet.  The perception amongst customers is that SMS gives them the option to opt in or opt out at their discretion, giving them a sense of control in the messaging that they see and consume.

landing-page-my-sales-trustOur My Sales Trust product places the customer in full control as they receive a personalised customer video via SMS, presenting them with a detailed and visual description of their potential new car which they can view countless times at their own convenience before committing to a test drive or visit to the dealership.  Through its use, dealerships can go a long way towards creating that personalised and experiential customer service that is becoming more and more desired by today’s savvy customer!

Our last blog touched on the issue of trust in the used car industry, SMS communication can help garages and dealerships to build trust and transparency by using SMS as a customer support and feedback tool.  SMS is a two way channel which allows garages and dealerships to receive reply messages from their text campaigns, offering customers easy access to provide feedback, ask questions and even log complaints.  If handled in the right way, this can show to the customer that you are committed to continuous improvement and that you really care about them, treating the customer like they are special and ‘the most important person in the room’.

It is proven that the most effective SMS communication strategies combine service messages, which have a tangible value to the customer, with specifically targeted promotional text campaigns.  Garages and dealerships should bear this in mind as part of any use of SMS.

Remember, regardless of how good your services are, customer service has to be the ultimate focus of attention, especially in today’s ultra-competitive automotive industry.  Customers won’t come back if they are treated poorly, they will simply go elsewhere! Customer retention and acquisition is a direct result of engaging with customers in a way that they want to be engaged with, keeping them well informed and ensuring you are always at the forefront of their mind.

As part of the recent iOS10 update, SMS benefits from a significant upgrade with more personalised ways to message including links, logos and icons which pull through on notification alerts.  Now is a great time for garages and dealerships to take advantage of advances in SMS and start seeing the benefit of acquiring loyal customers and repeat business.