The Best Digital Communication Channels for your Dealership

Post by
Andrew Lemoine
The Best Digital Communication Channels for your Dealership

Most of your staff nowadays uses digital communication channels in their personal lives, but not always in a professional setting. So it’s important to give your team some pointers on the right way to use digital communication in a customer service & sales context. Here are some best practices for using text, chat, social media, and video.

Text (SMS)

Text messaging is probably the most common and immediate way to communicate digitally, so it’s particularly useful for customers who want quick answers or for internet inquiries that have provided a mobile number. Give your staff the following tips to help them become texting superstars while still adhering to your dealerships brand and other guidelines. 

  • Text messages are a representation of the brand and dealership. Use complete sentences and keep the messages brief. Use texting acronyms sparingly, and only use ones that are globally recognized like, for example, BRB (be right back).
  • Send a quick initial response letting the customer know you got their message.  This is crucial. Don’t fret too much if the conversation has some time gaps after that first contact. Response time is important with any contact and/or support channel, but people expect a small delay with texting. Remember that text messaging offers customers the convenience of getting support on their preferred channel and allows them to keep that conversation open.
  • Follow texting voice and tone guidelines for your customers. Management should provide these. Texts can be a little fun, but know how much fun is appropriate. (For example, you may allow your sales team to add some emojis to their messages because your customers will enjoy them, but a finance manager during approval communication should not  be using them.)
  • Quickly proofread texts before sending. We all know that autocorrect can be as disastrous as it is helpful, so make sure there are no glaring errors.

Chat (Website Chat) 

Fielding website inquiries using a chat application for your dealership's website - whether from web or mobile visitors—is similar to handling conversations via text messaging. The same rules around grammar, voice, brevity, and speed apply, but there are a few distinctions that we list below.

  • Make sure you respond quickly in chat. Remember, a customer could be considering purchasing a vehicle on your website, and a quick response will help move the deal along and get to a next stage.
  • Recognize when an issue becomes too complicated or time-consuming to resolve through chat and it’s time to change channels. If you have to switch to email, draft and send the email immediately.

Social (FB Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp)

Customer service in social media channels serve three purposes. They help customers quickly inquire, communicate and resolve issues from the convenience of a social channel. It also shows the public what your brand and dealership stands for. The public is watching how you handle conversations in your social channels, so it’s especially important to get the message right there.

  • You are creating a permanent public record with every social post. Make sure that all language reflects the brand and dealer voice.
  • Never use social channels to merely say, "Call or email us so we can help you." Redirecting people to call customer service defeats the purpose of being active in the social channel. Do not launch social channels until your dealership can manage it properly.
  • Recognize when a conversation should stay public and when it should be taken to a direct message. If the customer service interaction can inform and benefit all customers without compromising your brand, keep it public. Take the conversation to a direct message for customer privacy or when you encounter difficult issues that shouldn’t be publicized.
  • When you move an interaction to a direct message be sure to post that you’ve done so in the social feed. Otherwise, people will assume your dealership is ignoring customers.
  • If a customer posts something negative, do not reply with a negative or combative response. However, there are times when a humorous retort—that has been approved by a manager—can be extremely effective. Understand the company policy and get approval for anything outside the norm.

Video (Email & Follow-Up)

While video isn’t as popular for customer service as some of the other channels we’ve talked about, it is still important.  We have found that many customers actually prefer it, either out of necessity or convenience. You can be almost certain your competitors are not using video, and it will both really increase engagement and as well as set your dealership apart. Especially on internet inquiries on specific vehicles and follow up emails.

  • Use video to respond to vehicle inquiries offering a video walk around and vehicle description.
  • Use video in email & SMS follow ups to customers who haven’t purchased yet.
  • Personal appearance matters in face-to-face interactions. Follow dealership guidelines on dress code and personal appearance for video chat with customers.
  • Tidy up your work space. It’s not just you on screen. What’s behind you shows up as well. If your work space or office doesn’t look good on video, ask for a backdrop for your video calls. (Perception IS reality)

Managers, be sure to share these digital communication best practices with your team so everyone can meet today’s customer expectations and successfully sell and resolve customer issues using text, chat, social, and video.

For more tips and resources for your dealership, check out today. 

- Team Autocorp

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