By Bill Wittenmyer, VP-Sales, Elead
Truth be told: we’re all addicted to our smartphones. Nearly 80 percent of the U.S. population owns one, and adults spend an average of 3 hours and 35 minutes every day staring at that small screen. And it’s not just for millennials – even my 70-something parents are constantly on their phones, texting and going online.
This constant connection and easy access to information lead customers to expect nothing less from you during the buying process. They want instant vehicle and inventory details, transparency in pricing and faster in-store experience.
Simply put, mobile applications help you deliver what your customers want. You can use your mobile app to help your staff build trust and foster transparency while saving the customer’s time.
Improve your interactions with customers and sell more by tailoring your communication, research and in-store tools to a mobile-first world with these five tips.
1. Focus on concise, real-time communications. The average person looks at his or her smartphone 150 times a day. That gives you a lot of opportunities to get in front of customers with marketing messages – whether it’s a phone call, email or text message. But messages must be tailored to the mobile experience. Make them short and to the point. Emails should be two paragraphs or less. Texts should be only a line or two. Voicemail messages should be under one minute. Then, be prepared to immediately respond when a customer reaches out because fast responses win business. A Harvard Business Review study found that if you respond to a lead within one hour, you are 7X more likely to have a meaningful conversation and qualify that lead.
And don’t fall into a trap thinking that a missed call notification is as good as a voicemail. So many salespeople now just make the call, don’t leave a voicemail and expect the customer to call back. Take it from me: if the dealer doesn’t bother to leave a voicemail, I don’t bother calling back.
- Send only personal, relevant messages. People don’t usually mind being contacted, but you better not bother them with messages that don’t apply to their current situation or needs. Mobile phones make it easy to block incoming spam, so make sure your marketing communications and personal messages aren’t regarded as such. Use your CRM to create targeted marketing lists based on where customers are in the buying cycle. Don’t get lazy and send unsolicited offers to a large group of people who never showed interest in the first place. That only increases your opt-out rate. Ask customers their preferred method of contact and communicate effectively with messages that fit their needs and where they are in the buying or service cycle.
- Include a visual component. People, in general, respond very well to visuals. The more you can incorporate vehicle images, inventory videos or even videos of salespeople answering the customers’ questions, the higher your response rates will be. Let’s face it: it’s easy to scroll through text, but when you see a stunning image of a vehicle, you might be compelled to stop scrolling. If you see a video play button, you might be curious as to what the video contains.
- Make research and buying tools mobile-friendly. We are certainly seeing dealers and consumers embracing more tablet and smartphone-based tools throughout the sales process. Many consumers want to shop and begin the buying process at their leisure, away from the dealership. They will seek out stores able to provide them with this experience. The best way to determine if your process is mobile-friendly? Try it yourself on your mobile phone. Also, make sure your sales team has access to your CRM using mobile devices. This allows them to collect and update customer data and conversations on the go, so nothing gets missed.
One note of caution: do not allow staff to use their own devices. A private phone is not tied to your CRM. You can’t capture conversations, monitor for productivity, or review exchanges for training purposes. Purchase business-only devices for your employees. The price tag is small compared to the cost of losing customer data and valuable conversations.
- Smooth customer experience with in-store mobile apps. Customers want a faster and more personal in-store experience. Apps like a mobile driver’s license scanner with an ID authentication tool before the test drive, a VIN scanner during appraisals and a mobile CRM and desking platform, speed up the buying process while ensuring the sales associate never has to leave the customer’s side. The whole process is transparent, faster and much more personal because the customer is included every step. On the service side, advisors should use a mobile or touch-less check-in process, so the customer is involved in the walk-through.
Smartphones are increasingly becoming the way we interact with the world. Your dealership has to meet the demands of the market with a solid mobile component. The five tips above will help you continue to infuse mobility into your communication, research and in-store tools so you can reap the benefits of greater customer satisfaction, retention and sales.
About the Author
With over 25 years of automotive leadership experience, Bill Wittenmyer relies on proven experience in automotive retail operations and the industry’s most comprehensive technology platform to deliver data-driven strategies that enhance the customer experience while driving successful sales results and market share growth.