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The Best Way to Talk to Customers

Not that long ago, we had only one fast way to talk to customers that weren’t right in front of us – the telephone.

Today, we have multiple ways: phone, email, chat, text.

Each of these methods serves a purpose, but only one has been ignored by auto dealerships and could open the door to a whole new customer base.

Let’s look at each tool in your toolkit and see what we can learn.

Phone – Calling customers is still a useful way to talk to customers, but it has lost its appeal as a way to initiate contact. Less than half of phone calls get answered. That number drops, even more, when the person doesn’t recognize the phone number. 

Can you still use the telephone to reach out and make sales? Yes, definitely, but it’s harder than ever. The telephone should be considered a last resort for contacting customers. 

If you use the phone, expect to leave a lot of voicemails. Make sure that you have a voicemail script written. 

If you’re calling about something of personal interest to the customer, like the car they wanted is on the lot, don’t be coy. Tell them in the voicemail. Otherwise, it’s just another unheard voicemail along with robocalls and marketing attempts that everyone gets every day. 

Incoming calls are still a powerful way to make sales. If the sales team takes that ringing phone seriously, they’ll find themselves making more sales. The phone should be seen as an asset, not a nuisance, every time it rings. At least a significant percentage of the time, it’s going to be someone looking to see if the car they want is available.

Email – If you’re already corresponding with someone or they are expecting to hear from you, email is a great way to communicate. The customer can get the message when they’re ready and can respond to it anytime, day or night. 

Email marketing, outbound marketing, is a lot more difficult. The best way to make sure that you get your emails read is to offer value. Don’t just offer discounts and give sales pitches, but give information that can be useful to your potential customers. For example, tax information for businesses that buy a company car this year instead of next. A look at auto loan rates for consumers is another way to add value.

For the money, email is still a fairly great way to communicate and make sales, but it’s getting harder to be heard above the noise.

Chat – This is 100% in-bound from your website. A great chat function on your website can capture sales as people are looking at cars. 

All the customer has to do is click the button and they’re on the line with someone from your dealership. It will be helpful if the person they’re talking to has information, like prices, monthly payments, details on the car, etc. It’s a lot less helpful if it’s someone from the Business Development Center who is in the dark about what’s on the lot and what things cost. 

Your chat function, like your phone, can be a huge asset. If one person is assigned to it for the day, they can convert those contacts into sales and really give great customer service.

One major downside is that you have no contact information unless the customer gives it to you. You have no way to get back to them unless they want you to.

Text – Text is the most effective way to communicate for auto dealerships, but most dealerships don’t use it effectively. In many cases, the salespeople will text with contacts from their personal phones. This is convenient, but a salesperson will take all of your contacts with them if they leave your business. 

A company text number can be used to capture the texting market. It can pop up on multiple phones at once or can be sent to a shift phone that one person is assigned to. You can also send texts to a desktop of someone who is in their office all day. This makes it easy to respond. 

For outbound marketing, texting is awesome. Depending on the study you find, 94% to 98% of all texts are opened and read. In fact, most phones will keep a text unread until you consciously open it. That’s powerful. Your message will pop up instantly in their pocket, and it won’t go away until they click it. 

There are lots of online services that will let you do bulk texting and help you grow your business. Working with a marketing team to develop your message can create a lot of loyal contacts that will buy from you. 

All of the communication methods are great for what they do, but text message marketing and interaction with customers is the big-untapped resource that most auto dealerships are missing.