High in demand but seldom offered as a communication option for customers, text messaging can bring added opportunities to increase loyalty through every phase of the service customer journey.  It is an easy win if implemented and used the right way.

The 2017 J.D. Power Customer Service Index Study revealed that 41% of Generation X and Y customers prefer texting as a way to communicate with a business.  Service departments have been sluggish to meet the ever-growing demand of providing customers with the opportunity to engage via text communication.  More startling  – the same study shows that only 3% of automotive service departments connect with their customers on their preferred channel of choice –  text messaging.   

Texting and Your Service Department

Why are service managers still skittish about adopting texting for their service advisors and technicians?  Some service managers contend that texting will trump the actual verbal communication we are used to.  While brief text messages offer quick responses – the perception remains that brevity can lead to misunderstanding.  For every long verbal pause that opens the door to further oral discussion where tone can be detected –  a short text response can be misconstrued as dismissive and interpreted as an immediate “no.”

But if we accept that a positive customer experience leads to long-term customer loyalty – finding ways to communicate with our service customer with their preferred form of communication acknowledges we are listening to and embracing their preferences.

At a 3% service text adoption usage – are we communicating with our service customers and listening to their wishes?

Probably not.

As customers continue to shift their preferences to text interactions, dealers who rise to their challenge see two benefits.

Speed up the service process for your customer

Skip the phone tag and missed calls. Send instant service updates and receive immediate approvals of Service Repair Summaries (SRS). If customers opt-in to receiving text message updates, service advisors can text their customers to remind customers of upcoming service appointments, approve additional service recommendations (ASR), or when their vehicle is ready.

Increase CSI and influence customer loyalty

As we talk about transparency in the service process, text messaging opens up the opportunity for your service advisors and technicians to share key findings to help customers make their service purchase decision.  With the ability to add still photos and video explainers to reinforce why a specified repair is needed, service advisors strengthen their roles as trusted service experts rather than just order takers and facilitators.

Make sure your service texting solution includes the following three items:

Clear Written Consent

Currently, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) requires prior express written consent before text or email marketing communications can be sent to your customers.  A TCPA-compliant texting partner will make sure that written consent is offered for the initial and future interactions electronically.  The language used clearly state the consumer can choose not to communicate electronically. They can also simply text the word STOP to revoke permission to send texts.

Texting outside of a 2-way SMS texting platform that isn’t TCPA compliant poses a host of issues for dealers. The most significant risk – the Federal Trade Commission code which requires “express written permission” from your customer.  Look for integrated service platforms that offer an opt-in from the beginning of the service customer’s journey – whether that journey starts with an online appointment booking or in the service lane.

A Solid Integration with Your Service CRM

From an accountability standpoint, when a dealership employee communicates outside of the text client within their service platform, there is no way to monitor, control and manage those communications.  All text communications will be tied to the customer record in your Sales and Service CRM, ensuring accuracy.

If you have provided your team with a service technology suite that has an integrated texting solution, safe commutation between your service advisors and your customers will be achieved. While past challenges to TCPA have centered around the distinction between consumer-initiated (non-marketing) communication and marketing communication, err on the side caution.  If dealerships treat all text and email communication as marketing communication – no matter the subject matter – utilizing a TCPA-compliant text platform provides fail-safe protection for your customers and your employees.

Don’t Forget Your Internal Customers

Just as your service customers prefer a more streamlined communication process, your employees value clear internal exchanges as well.  The most robust shop technology applications include texting capabilities that allow for faster communication between service technicians, the parts desk, and service advisors – which in turn speeds up the conversation, workflow and ultimate delivery of the vehicle to the customer.  Again – all of your text messages get tied to the associated customer record for clarity and transparency.

Finding the right text solution that integrates with your service drive technology can help dealerships achieve the long-term goal of welcomed, genuine interactions, leading to a more lucrative relationship long-term.