Today's always-connected car buyer uses multiple online channels when shopping. As a forward-thinking car dealership, you need to meet the customer where they go by implementing an omnichannel dealership communication strategy.
People love to text, surf social media, watch YouTube videos, or scroll Instagram and Twitter. It makes sense for car dealerships to connect with customers on the same platforms; that’s why you need the four main dealership communication channels that we're going to discuss.
Omnichannel customer communications for car dealerships
Supply chain bottlenecks, the pandemic, and harsh economic times mean that dealerships have to work harder than ever for each sale. An automotive trend report by Star Global listed changing customer journeys as one of the biggest challenges for automotive dealers.
That's why creating a cohesive, seamless customer experience across multiple platforms is so important. You only need to focus on four main dealership communication channels:
- Text messaging for quick inquiries and personalised support
- Website chats for a frictionless digital retailing experience
- Social media such as Facebook and Instagram for convenience and brand building
- Videos included in email follow-ups for immersive interaction
These four communication channels for dealerships can support the entire buyer journey, regardless of the customer's preferences.
We know that implementing an effective communications strategy is more of an organisational challenge than a technological one. So let's look into each of these four dealership communication channels for more insight.
1. Text messaging (SMS)
Text messaging lets you connect with your customers almost immediately. In fact, SMS has the highest engagement rate of text-based communications at 89%, compared with 24% for email.
Also, with the right technology, you can send out highly personalised text messages for marketing or customer support. Since text messages are slightly different from other business communication channels, keep the following tips in mind:
- Provide value for the customer with every text.
- Keep texts short, with no more than 140 characters.
- Keep SMSs professional. Use grammatically correct sentences, and avoid emojis.
- If you can't answer an inquiry right away, let the customer know that you will get back to them.
- Always proofread texts and maintain strict guidelines on tone and voice for your SMS customer communications.
To get started with SMS, you'll need to have a contacts database for both leads and existing customers. Next, search the market to find a text messaging platform that works for you. Some even offer custom services for auto dealerships.
Once you have the tools ready, we suggest that you try different approaches to find what format works for your customers and generates the most interest. You should always include a call to action, and you can even include website links.
2. Web chat/website chatbots
Website live chat communications follow the same rules as SMS on grammar, tone, and brevity. However, while customers can tolerate a slight delay in SMS texts, they expect instantaneous responses on live chats.
Web chats are a particularly important part of your lead generation strategy, not just your overall dealership communication efforts. While existing customers may reach you through email or phone calls, the majority of web chat inquiries are likely from curious website visitors.
Getting your live chat strategy right can help you sell more cars. These tips will help:
- Invest in tools that track customer behaviour to identify the most likely prospects and provide dealership analytics that help you focus on the right leads.
- Be available 24/7; outsource your live chat or use an automated chatbot for non-business hours.
- Live chat communications need to be brief, professional, and to the point; the people handling them should be able to think and type fast.
- Keep live chats conversational to build relationships with customers.
- Be empathetic and friendly. Also, always end live chats on a positive note.
Live chats should resolve issues quickly. If things take longer than expected, switch to a different channel, such as email.
3. Social media platforms (Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp)
Providing customer support through your social media channels makes it easy and convenient for customers to ask questions and resolve issues. Social media support removes communication friction and hesitancy, especially if you remain approachable and friendly.
More than that, social channels are the face of your brand. Public channels like Facebook and Instagram are open to public judgement, so your posts, likes, and comments should reflect your brand's personality and values.
For instance, if a customer posts something negative, do not reply with a negative or combative response. Instead, reply courteously and switch to private chats to resolve the issue.
To make the best use of customer communications on social channels, dealerships should:
- Resolve issues quickly; do not redirect inquiries if you can help it.
- Recognise when conversations need to move from public to private.
- Be available to respond, especially during business and peak hours.
- Pick one platform and perfect a communications strategy there.
- Be 100% committed to the social media plan, even if it takes time.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the perfect place to shape your brand. You get to tell stories, share posts, and show people the human side of your brand. We highly recommend bringing in an experienced social media manager for social media communications to help you build and maintain a solid reputation.
4. Video communications
Although relatively new, video is quickly becoming the most consumed medium online. The average person spends one hour and 43 minutes daily watching videos. This makes video communication one of the best ways to increase customer engagement.
One way to use video is to include one-to-one videos in your emails. Not many brands are doing that yet, which gives you a golden opportunity to set your dealership apart. Video is particularly suited to car dealership customer communications for several reasons, including:
- You don't need to write up car descriptions; you can simply record a video walking around the vehicle.
- When it comes to customer support, explainer videos are the most practical way to resolve car issues.
- Video marketing is perfect for dealership marketing, especially when you post on social channels.
- You can include a live-streaming option for customers who want to talk to a sales rep or even buy virtually.
Videos and live-streaming give you a unique chance to create a virtual but personal connection with customers. People trust you when they can see you, so they will be more likely to come to your dealership.
However, you must keep all video communications at an extremely high standard. You have to think about appearance, as well as video and audio quality. It's also a good idea to write scripts for your videos until you're more confident in front of the camera.
Create time for dealership communication with SalesLogs
People buy what they know, like, and trust. These four communication channels allow dealerships to have deeper connections with customers, but they also take a lot of time and effort.
If you are bogged down with manual dealership management duties, you won't have the time or energy to reply to chats or record videos. SalesLogs dealership intelligence software lets you create efficient processes so you can focus on the bigger picture.
Try SalesLogs today to find out what we can do for you.