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Archive for the ‘Fixed Ops / Aftersales’ Category

Solve This Common Service Follow-Up Challenge with Text

hang up the phone

I’m willing to bet that 9 out of 10 service managers have team members who’ve experienced the following (and hate it):

  • A service advisor calls a customer to provide an update, remind them about recommended work they initially declined, or follow up about something else.
  • The customer doesn’t answer. Not surprising. Who answers their phone nowadays?
  • The service advisor begins leaving a voicemail.
  • Meanwhile, the service advisor is paged (on the overhead PA or on their literal pager) and told that the customer he/she is currently leaving a message for is on another line.

Imagine that happening multiple times a day. Imagine how inefficient it is.

That said, service follow-up is very important, and it’s often one of the KPIs that service departments are measured on. And for good reason! Automotive News interviewed a dealer who focuses on this type of follow-up and produces 2 – 5 extra service appointments per week.

So you know your service department needs to consistently follow up with customers. You also know that when customers don’t answer the call, the perception is that your follow-up performance is poor.

Text messaging may be the answer to better follow-up connections.

Imagine if the advisor in the above example had spent 3 – 5 minutes sending multiple outbound follow-up texts instead of calling. Not only would it be more efficient, it’s what the majority of consumers say they prefer: 76% of car buyers in our 2016 Consumer Survey said they’d prefer to message with businesses rather than talk on the phone. In addition, 77% of car shoppers in that survey said they’re likely to message with the business that services their car.

Will that include you? I sure hope so!

8 Reasons Service Departments Really SHOULD Be Texting


It’s no big secret that people like to text. It’s no big secret that more and more businesses—like dealerships—are texting with consumers and vice versa. Yet even within those texting dealerships, there are often those who just feel that mobile messaging isn’t right for them.

We’re looking at you, service department friends.

Don’t get left behind! Instead, check out the following 8 reasons why texting is a powerful solution for fixed ops, courtesy of Melissa Commons, our Business Development Manager and previous service department employee:

  1. You can remind customers of their appointments.
  2. You can remind them if they’re past due and need to schedule said appointment.
  3. They can have a quick, convenient conversation from that reminder text if they have questions or need to reschedule (no annoying, “call us back” next step).
  4. You can follow up via text with customers who call in, and get faster responses.
  5. You can record and text pictures/videos of recommended repairs.
  6. You can get faster RO approvals from such texts, especially handy if customers are in meetings and can’t call to approve additional work.
  7. You can keep track of all such approvals and service conversations with powerful reporting and CRM integration.
  8. You can find out how the service visit went and remind them about the CSI survey.

The moral of the story? If your dealership isn’t texting interactively with consumers, you should. If your dealership isn’t texting interactively with all types of customers (sales AND service), you should. And if there’s a team (or team member) at your dealership who isn’t texting yet, get them on board!

For more of Melissa’s tips and insights (and how to get started), check out her full article on LinkedIn.

Is Your Sales Team Tired of Answering Service Department Chats? Try This


Imagine jumping on an incoming chat or text request to help a ready-to-buy shopper and bring him into your dealership. Only he isn’t interested in buying. He has a service question. Sigh.

That’s not to say car buyers don’t use mobile messaging. You’ve seen the numbers and experienced the sales results! And yes, you know service requests are good for your dealership too―you’re just tired of dealing with them when you’re supposed to be focused on sales.

It’s a common sales headache, especially if your dealership manages some or all of the chat/text conversations in-house. Just think: Marchex found that 74% of customers calling dealerships inquire about parts and services! With so many preferring mobile messaging over calling today, those service chats and texts are only going to grow.

The good news is that there’s an easy cure for this headache, one that could give service customers a smoother experience as well!

Smarten Up Mobile Messaging

What you want to do is ensure that the right questions go to the right people. Here are three ways to start:

  • Offer Service-Specific Text & Chat Options – Contact At Once! offers a service package that includes dedicated text-enabled numbers and chat buttons that encourage people to “Chat with Service” or “Text an Expert” (for example). Consumers looking to contact your service department can tap the button to start a live conversation with your service BDC, advisors or whoever’s in charge of service department inquiries.
  • Let People Select Which Department – Sometimes people simply click the first contact button they see. So even if you offer service-specific options, a second layer of guidance may be wise. Contact At Once! calls this a “department selector.” No matter where customers click to chat or text, a menu pops up and they can choose to connect to the people they need: sales or service.
  • Buffer Your Teams with Managed Chat & Text – If the first two options aren’t enough, you can always choose a co-managed implementation to avoid distracting sales with stray service requests. Our professional messaging experts could manage chat or text conversations on your behalf, passing on the service or sales leads to the designated dealership teams. (And our latest product enhancement means serious buyers won’t have to wait for follow-up; your best sales reps can continue the live conversation with those hot buyers in seconds.)

Better Service Connections Mean Better Results for All!

When customers have clear, direct lines to the right experts who can answer their questions, you win in more than avoiding a sales vs. service team annoyance. It can mean faster answers for customers with service questions. It can mean that salespeople see more and more value in the chat or text conversations that do come to them—and respond faster—because they’re more likely to be true sales opportunities!

In other words, these changes can help your dealership provide a better, more hassle-free experience for every customer…sales or service.

One Easy Thing You Can Do to Improve the Service Experience in 2016


Let me share a service story with you.

John Hanger, our senior vice president and general manager, dropped his car off at his dealership’s service bay. With the car up on the lift, the technician noticed that it needed additional work. So they sent a text saying, “Call us.” Well, like most, John’s a busy guy. He had meetings scheduled throughout the day and wasn’t able to pick up the phone for a long conversation. He tried replying via text, but got an error message because the dealership’s CRM system could only send text alerts…it didn’t support text-based customer conversations.

(Is that true for your service department as well? Try sending a text to the number on your service page and see what happens.)

Long story short, the service team had to take the car down, move it out the service bay and wait six more hours until John could finally call them back. While he ultimately got the work done, he had to wait another day to get his car back and the service center lost valuable time (and potentially revenue) waiting to hear back.

That’s a familiar story, but it doesn’t have to be. (And it shouldn’t be: Gartner research and this AdWeek article noted that 89% of companies were planning to “compete primarily on the basis of customer experience by 2016.”)

What Service Departments Can Do Differently

Today’s technology allows for better productivity and a better customer experience, which is essential considering the heavy competition for service customers. If the technician or the service advisor working with John’s car had been equipped with the right digital messaging technology, for instance, the story would have been much different.

When the technicians noticed the additional work, they (or the advisor) could have shot a quick video with their Contact At Once! mobile app and texted it right to John. They could have shown him the issue, explained the work needed and given a price estimate—“It’s going to be $400 to get this piece fixed. Just text us back with your approval.”—all via trackable video and text. John could have then responded with approval almost instantly, not six hours later when he had time to make a phone call.

How much time and effort could be saved at your dealership with such technology? And how much would your average RO increase with that speed, convenience and transparency? Plus, it’d give you the added benefit of communicating the way consumers want—and in this example, need—as the 2015 Dealer Survey showed us.

The Technology You Need Is Here

Here’s the great news for service departments: Contact At Once! has developed a digital messaging solution designed for fixed ops teams, and it complements current processes, rather than disrupting them.

  • Before the appointment – A host of features help boost service inquiries (by making it easier for consumers to ask), capture potential service customers’ information and engage in whatever way those customers prefer with the exact people who can give them the information they’re looking for—your service team, dedicated service BDC or specially equipped messaging experts. No more “please call us” automated messages when a customer wants to text!
  • During the appointment – Contact At Once! puts the full power of texting in the service team’s hands. They can initiate permission-based texts to customers, record/text videos and pictures to customers and gain approvals with everything tracked the way your dealership needs (for attribution, compliance, etc.).
  • After the appointment – Service advisors can easily follow up with customers to ensure satisfaction, and customers can reply back at any time to schedule their next appointment.

With this improved offering, service departments can be even MORE productive, get faster approvals on ROs, shorten service times and make the entire experience even more streamlined for customers, start to finish. That’s a story I’d like to tell!

So what will YOUR service department look like in 2016?

How to Capitalize on Car Buyers’ Mobile Moments


The defining moment for your dealership isn’t a purchase or lease. It’s all the little moments that lead up to those sales. I’m talking about the “micro-moments,” as Google calls them. Mobile moments. The times when we need to answer questions or complete tasks…and turn to our smartphones. Make a meaningful, human connection during these moments, and you can win big:

The Mobile Moments That Matter to You

If you understand car buyers’ mobile moments, you have the perfect opportunity to connect one-to-one right where and when they’re making decisions and forming preferences. For example, here are a few moments that are ripe for connections (and how digital messaging could help you make a difference):

  • Need-a-“new”-one moments – Whether they were in a wreck or their car just gave up the ghost, these buyers have a finite time to make their purchase. Along with being easily found on various third-party search sites and mobile search terms (e.g., “used [insert car brand] near me”), offer simple ways to get more details, fast. Automotive chat and text are helpful, as buyers can get real-time responses while they search (or work).
  • Want-a-new-one moments – Usually, this is when someone is looking to trade in one vehicle for another—perhaps getting a family vehicle or finally getting that dream car. They may be looking for advice or incentives to help them decide if now’s the time to make the buy. So make sure your specials are updated on your website and be ready to respond with expert advice (and pictures or video!) as soon as shoppers reach out with questions.
  • Can-I-afford-this moments – Buyers are going to compare price, so make it easy. Be as transparent as you can on your site and ads, and make sure your messaging team is ready to discuss pricing (and incentives) if buyers chat or text in about it, too.
  • Want-to-drive-it moments – Make it as easy to test drive as it is to view your inventory. Say a buyer browses your gallery while riding the metro. If she can click a button and schedule a test drive on the vehicle she’s most interested in via text, she may be more likely to do so. And what about those not quite ready to come in? Take them on a personalized “demo” by streaming video over chat or texting a video of the car they’re most interested in.
  • Make-it-mine moments – How quickly can you help those who are ready to buy? The more of the paperwork and financial process you can take care of digitally—before the buyer has to sit, tapping their fingers in your showroom—the better. (In fact, 75% of those in an Accenture survey said they’d consider doing everything related to buying a car online.) Text and chat options make it easy for consumers to let you know they’re ready to buy, so your team can quickly guide them through the next steps.
  • Need-to-service-it moments – Taking their car in for maintenance isn’t something drivers look forward to, so it’s smart to make moments like this as convenient as possible. Let them chat or text in service appointment requests the second they remember, no need to be at a desktop or where they can talk on the phone. Car need extra repairs? Record a video of the suggested work and the cost, and text it to the customer for approval.

In other words, we don’t want to be the business so painful to deal with that people put off even making contact. (And we all know businesses like that: Think of the last time you were put on hold.) That’s why chat and text conversations can be so powerful in these mobile moments—consumers instantly get help from real people!

As Yoav Barel, Head of Mobile at LivePerson said in a recent VentureBeat article, “There’s a reason why the top-ranked mobile apps are those that facilitate a human-to-human connection.” The more convenient it is to make such a connection in various moments of need—from research to purchase decisions and service—the stronger your consumer loyalty can grow.

See the different ways Contact At Once! can help you connect when it matters most.

How to Use Chat and Text to Win With Service Customers


Taking the car in for maintenance is not one of drivers’ top 10 favorite pastimes, but it can be made better or worse by what you do…or don’t do. And the stakes are high: Service and parts made up 46% of dealerships’ gross profits on average in 2013, yet dealers are losing service customer after service customer to national repair chains.

So what can you do? Along with cultivating trust, transparency and a bigger digital presence (according to the 2014 GfK study), you should create a convenient, connected service experience from start to finish. Here’s how digital messaging could be your best friend in this endeavor:

  • Engagement From the Start – To build awareness, you might highlight service reviews and promote your quality, competitive service offerings via digital marketing. Just make sure someone is there to answer consumers’ questions on the spot. Take online reviews, which a majority of drivers use to make decisions on where to purchase and get service. Did you know you can add the option to chat or text directly with your team right on those review listings?
  • Convenience – Drivers often forget to schedule service, so the easier you make it, the better. Let them chat or text in a service appointment the moment they remember, no need to be at the computer or where they can talk. You don’t have to disrupt your current processes either—just have the Contact At Once! professional messaging experts respond, schedule appointments and possibly plant seeds for a future trade-in.
  • Transparency – Digital messaging can also help calm fears of unnecessary repair rip-offs or over-paying (the #1 reason for not choosing a dealership is the belief that they have the highest prices). Imagine inspecting a car during an oil change and noticing that the right front shock needs replaced. Instead of having the service advisor call or track down the person, the advisor can simply record and text a video of the issue to the driver as he explains what’s wrong and how much it will cost to fix. The customer feels in control because he/she can actually see the needed repair, making them more likely to approve on the spot. Plus, those text conversations are documented, so you have a record of each conversation and approval.
  • Better Communication in General – Digital messaging is what many consumers now prefer, so why not connect the way we are increasingly choosing to communicate? Your sales team is probably already chatting and texting with customers…and for good reason. IHS Automotive analyses show that 1 in 3 identifiable shoppers who chat purchase and 1 in 4 who text do. (By the way, if messaging is already in use in the dealership, it’s very easy to extend to fixed ops departments!)

We all know that service loyalty takes more than good coffee from a plush waiting room. It takes more than digital messaging, too. But when everything combines the right way, you can generate loyalty. J.D. Power reported that 89% of drivers who were “delighted” with service said they’d return after their warranty expired, and 59% said they “definitely will” buy from that dealership again.

Digital messaging like text and chat helps make your service customer interactions quicker, more convenient, transparent and trustworthy, all of which gets you closer to a delightful experience. You ready?

Get more: Register for “Improve the Service Drive Experience with Chat & Text,” a free Automotive News webinar (August 12, 2:00pm ET).

Equip Parts & Service to Attract More Business From Mobile Customers

automotive mobile parts and services

Ever heard of the adage, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander”? Well, sometimes what’s good for the sales department is good for the service department. And body shop and parts, etc. At least that’s the case when it comes to embracing the mobile mindset of the modern consumer and updating processes to meet their expectations.

Offering dealership chat and text for quickly responding to questions, setting appointments and following up—in multiple departments—are great places to start.

Every Department Can Benefit From a Mobile Face-lift

Contact At Once! users say dealership chat helps them connect with about 25% more online shoppers, and texting is growing in popularity (one user calls it his “best mobile lead capture tool”). But sales isn’t the only department that can benefit from catering to customers’ preferences this way: Automotive News reported that the service, parts and body shop departments generate about 43% of an average dealership’s annual gross profits. What about giving those customers more mobile conveniences?

Many dealership service departments lack a competitive online presence, even though 95% of customers set appointments online (or try to). The harder it is to make an appointment or get questions answered, the less people will take the initiative, particularly if your competitors are giving them a chance to chat or text. Think about your own preferences for a minute. As a customer, would you rather pick up the phone to call a business…or simply text them?

Extend Dealership Chat, Mobile Text & All Your Digital Conveniences

Dealership chat and text options give consumers the real-time help they crave, and it can make every interaction with your dealership easier, from sales to service and beyond. For example, if a customer is confused about what kind of service they may need, they can chat or text in their question (whether at work or out of town) and connect with someone immediately.

Thoroughbred Ford in Missouri added chat to the sales, service and body shop because of this. George O’Sullivan, E-Commerce Director, says in a recent Dealer Marketing Magazine article: “We knew that if online chat assisted with the customer experience during the buying process, it might also help us offer a consistently high level of service across our other departments.” He likes giving customers the exact help they need by transferring chats from one department to the next, “just like the handoff that takes place in our showroom.”

Orlando Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram has seen such communication pay off, too. They recently had a customer chat in from Brazil and purchase $5,500 worth of parts. (Learn more in this video.)

A little convenience and a meaningful conversation at every touchpoint go a long way in creating good experiences that profit customers and dealerships alike. Having the right communication solutions in place only helps.