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4 steps to switching from phone-based to digital-first communications

Jon Oxtoby

Jon Oxtoby

04 Mar 2021

If you’re ready to digitise the way your aftersales department communicates with customers, this blog will help you understand how to get started.

It’s official: the way aftersales departments at dealerships communicate with customers needs to change. Our research shows that 72% of customers want to communicate online with their dealership, and 84% of service advisors report that customers now expect a near-immediate response to their queries. In other blogs on this site, I’ve discussed how digital communications tools have the ability to increase customer satisfaction and improve customer loyalty – even as your customer base grows. I’ve also touched on some of the risks that come from trying to use shortcuts to digitise your customer experience, such as using social media apps to talk to customers.

In this blog, I want to answer the next question: how do you get started with rolling out digital communications tools across your dealership?

Step 1: get a handle on your data

Your digital communication tool needs to sync with your DMS, to make sure you have a complete view of your customer data and to enable service advisors to quickly access useful information when talking to customers.

This is likely the hardest part of setting up a new system, and so should be one that any vendor will help you with. Once it’s set up, you should find that your new system is populated with all your customers – and as new customers get added, their records are also shared with your communications platform.

Step 2: configure the system

Your new solution will need configuring before you can use it. That might involve:

  • Adding your company logo and branding to the solution so that it looks like it belongs to your business.
  • Setting up any automated messages that you want to send to customers, for instance service reminders.
  • Adding your service advisors to the system as users, so they can send and respond to messages.
  • Loading any products into the platform that you plan to offer to customers, such as service plans or oil top-ups.

Crucially, in 2021 this should NOT involve downloading and installing software, or buying new machines. Most new platforms are browser-based, meaning that if you have an internet connection and an up-to-date web browser such as Google Chrome, you should be good to go.

One other thing to consider here is what existing messaging tools you have, and whether they should be deactivated. Many DMS have their own messaging tools – but if you have those running as well as your new digital comms tool, you may end up sending customers multiple messages, giving them a sub-optimal experience.

"Most new platforms are browser-based, meaning that if you have an internet connection and an up-to-date web browser such as Google Chrome, you should be good to go."

Step 3: train your users

Once the system is ready to go, it’s important that your service advisors are given some training on how to use it. A good digital comms platform should be pretty intuitive – but basic training will iron out any kinks and ensure your service advisors are happy and excited about using the new solution.

Related reading:
3 ways your service advisors can achieve faster response times

What can car dealerships learn from phone companies?

Take them through how to use the system, and run some test jobs so they can see how it works in practice. Let them have a go at messaging a test customer, or at filming a video and sending it to the customer if your platform lets you do that.
The more comfortable your service advisors are with using the new system, the fewer teething issues you’ll have when you launch it to your customers. And speaking of customers…

Step 4: educate your customers

Once you’re ready to launch your digital comms platform, you need to show your customers how to use it, too.

There are many ways you can do this. The easiest and simplest is to encourage service advisors to tell customers when they book a service or MOT that they will be communicated with digitally, and what to expect. Other alternatives include posters in your showroom, a banner on your website, or an email to your customers announcing the change.

Of course, if your digital comms platform includes the ability for customers to book their service online, then you should include a space in that process to explain to the customer how your new platform works when they book with you.

On the whole, our research showed that customers are valuing speediness and quality of communications when they interact with the dealership – and they see digital tools as the way to achieve those things. With that in mind, digital communications – the very thing that was once synonymous with poor service – are likely to be the key to meeting customer needs and growing your business.

Introducing CustomerLounge - effective aftersales communications, incredibly easy to manage

If you’re in the process of choosing which digital communications platform is best for your dealership, I’d love for you to have a look at ours – CustomerLounge. It enables aftersales departments to contact customers quickly and easily over a web chat interface, and makes it simple to send messages, files, images and videos to customers.

With CustomerLounge, your service advisors can spend less time on the phone, while providing better service to more customers. One dealership found their NPS improve by an incredible 40 points, while another reduced inbound calls about service bookings by 33% in just three months.

And best of all, CustomerLounge is incredibly easy to implement in your business. CustomerLounge’s technical experts can take care of everything from loading DMS data into the system, to setting up your fully branded version of CustomerLounge, to service advisor training. CustomerLounge can run on almost any computer, and requires no installing or downloading of software – it all works through the web. So you can spend less time elbows deep in IT, and more time running your dealership.

If you’d like to learn more about how CustomerLounge works and how it can help your dealership, download our brochure or contact us today.

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Topics: technology, dealerships, dms, IT, communication, dealer software, Aftersales, Customerlounge, automotive, software, dealer, Support, branding, digitisation, website

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