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How every auto shop should be communicating with their customers

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 - 06:00
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The way that consumers research, find, and engage with car shops has changed significantly in recent years. In the past, managers would buy newspaper and radio ads, put up a billboard, get listed in the Yellow Pages, and wait for customers to call or show up to their shop.

Now, the process is much more detached. While traditional advertising and marketing are important to create awareness, they are no longer the primary sources consumers turn to when deciding which shop to choose. Online searches are now king. Today’s consumer typically searches for body shops near them, reads reviews, maybe looks at your website, and then calls or messages you directly from your listing.

The option for customers to message businesses is a new addition. Google recognized that more and more customers would prefer to message a business as opposed to placing a call. In fact, 90 percent of consumers want to use messaging to interact with a business – with 50 percent preferring to message via SMS text.

The problem is only 48 percent of businesses are capable of messaging with their customers. There are a number of reasons that businesses cite for not wanting to implement a messaging strategy with their customers including:

  • Too time consuming
  • Resource intensive
  • Cost prohibitive

In the past, those concerns might have been valid, but that is no-longer the case. In fact, messaging with your customers will save you time and money rather than eating up resources. Businesses using Podium Messenger have been able to see a 15 percent reduction in inbound call volume, while also seeing a 26 percent increase in their Net Promoter Scores. Because business text messaging is so vital, we wanted to walk you through the process of setting up your business with Google’s Click-to-Message feature.

Setting up Google Click-to-Message

1. Login to your Google My Business page

2. Select 'Messaging' in the left menu and add phone number

3. Verify that number with a code sent from Google

4. Now searchers can message your shop

When you should message your customers

Because texting with your customers is such a new phenomenon, it might be difficult to know when you should text message with your customers. Customers typically will reach out to you via text message when they are experiencing what Google refers to as a ‘micro-moments.’ A micro-moment is a time on the customer journey when customers want to know, want to go, or want to buy something.

A lot of times, consumers won’t want to make a call when they are having these micro-moments because calls are often perceived as time-consuming and inconvenient. Businesses that give consumers the option to message with them, will likely see an uptick in business. Some other times when consumers want to engage your business via text include:

  • Answer simple questions: A lot of times customers just want to know something simple like what your hours are or whether or not you perform a specific type of service. Having the ability to answer those questions via text will make life easier for not only your customers but your employees as well.
     
  • Make appointments: Today’s consumer wants it to be simple and easy to engage with a business and that includes making appointments. Being able to make an appointment and send appointment reminders via text will increase customer satisfaction and help you drive loyalty.
     
  • Resolve problems: Unfortunately, not every interaction with your customers is going to go as smoothly as you would like. Giving customers the option to reach out to report issues via text will help you significantly improve your response time and help you prevent small problems from becoming larger.
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