Swiss Army 1920 X 600

Think you can bodge digital communications?

Jon Oxtoby

Catherine Osborn

24 Jan 2022

Think you can bodge digital communications?

Readers of a certain age will remember MacGyver, the 80s TV hero who could engineer himself out of seemingly impossible situations armed with little more than a Swiss army knife, a paper clip and a roll of duct tape. His ability to do a lot with very little indeed must surely appeal in these straitened times but sadly for us mere mortals, our attempts often more closely resemble those of those other 80s heroes, Bodger and Badger.

OK, so here’s the segue if you’re wondering: often, when we talk to dealerships about digital communications, they totally get their importance, but think they can make do with SMS and email. And that’s a real shame because they and their customers are missing out on so much value that a fully integrated digital solution can offer. In fact, when you look at the possibilities, a pure SMS/email solution must feel distinctly underwhelming, not the premium digital experience customers deserve.

Here’s what they are missing out on 👇

Full visibility of customer interactions

I hope everyone realises by now the value of reducing the number telephone calls for those routine interactions. Doing so helps you get information out to customers faster and without them having to chase you — great for customer satisfaction — and frees your advisors up for tasks that drive more revenue. So you save money and make money at the same time. And yes, while you can do that using SMS and email, you have no way of telling whether your customers are getting the information they need.

How do you know who’s still waiting for an update? For some of our customers, that’s the number-one cause of dissatisfaction: ‘You didn’t call me’, ‘You never let me know’, ‘I found out when I came in’. For busy teams, these issues can slip by unnoticed in your DMS, and the first you know about it is when a customer is complaining on the day or after the event, or via a CSI survey weeks after the event.

An integrated solution gives you a bird’s-eye view of all your customer interactions, allowing you to see exactly who’s waiting, and for how long, so you can stop one major cause of unhappy customers in its tracks.

Two skeletons waiting for an update

Are your customers waiting too long for an update?

Real-time satisfaction indicators and analysis

That delayed customer satisfaction feedback loop can be a real issue for dealerships because in the time it takes you to discover something’s up, your customers might well have taken their business elsewhere. So you need a solution that gives you an instant view of how happy your customers are — a temperature check if you like — and allows you to take remedial action straightaway.

We use a simple happy/neutral/sad face feedback mechanism because it’s so incredibly simple. Even asking them to fill out a one-minute survey is going to be off-putting for many, but this way, customers can give feedback in a second.

Time-saving automation

Another issue with a pure SMS/email approach is that it still requires a human to initiate the interaction and gather information from other systems and people, and that means customers are potentially still waiting too long for updates.

What you can do though is standardise many of the standard touchpoints in the life cycle of an aftersales customer, and feedback from end-customers is that they appreciate this kind of clear, timely, digital communication, and that it still makes them feel valued.

We always encourage our users to make sure the interaction is as personal as possible by sending their own messages. The automated messages are there for reminders and for some of the common processes, but we know from our research that customers still want the personal approach. Best of all, because of the phone ringing less, and because of the easy nature of contacting many customers through the platform, they get back more time to do precisely that.

A Swiss Army knife lying on the ground.

MacGyver: almost certainly a safer bet than Bodger and Badger but sadly, fictional

Turbo-boosted sales promotions

Taking that automation one step further, a digital solution that’s integrated with your DMS can allow you to run targeted campaigns. Because you’re offering a customer oil when they need oil, or a service when they need a service, they are much more likely to take up the offer.

With an instant view of how those promotions are going, you can tweak them according to what’s working and what’s not, or even what you currently have in stock.

Dealerships running these kinds of campaigns can earn an extra £10-15K a month for minimal effort, and that’s a modest but very welcome contribution to the bottom line at a time when new car sales are extraordinarily slow.

Our automated promotions generated over £0.5 million in additional service requests in 2021, and that’s with full automation for campaigns only going live in September. So it’s a really good way to generate additional sales. Just be warned — sometimes these promotions can be too successful so make sure you have new supplies on order!

A responsive, branded, familiar experience.

The last thing I want to talk about is your brand. Your car salespeople are selling a premium product — a purchase that’s probably second only to a house for buyers in terms of cost and significance. Customers want and expect that premium experience to continue when they come back for a service. Are they getting that with a text or an email?

In fairness, most customers would probably prefer a five-star holiday, but a good digital comms experience must run a close second.

What if instead, they could receive the full brand experience? And behind that gorgeous branded interface, see the full chat history, details of what work that’s scheduled happening, current service status, additional services, explainer videos promotions, opening hours, facilities and so much more?

Of course, you’ll still want to make use of SMS and email to get the customer to engage in the first place, and that’s absolutely the right thing to do — you don’t want to force your customers to download cumbersome apps that need updating all the time. But once they’ve clicked the link, a whole new experience can open up for them, and you.

So, don’t let Bodger and Badger run your digital comms. SMS and email are simply a means to an end, and that end has to be a rich, premium, fully managed, digital experience that puts your customers front and centre of everything you do, doesn’t it?

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