Are you aware of the pitfalls of dealership communication? Whether your auto dealership employees are talking with customers in person, checking in with them over the phone, or reaching out to them via email, there are a variety of ways that communication can go wrong and send customers running to a competitor. The explosion in the popularity of digital communication has increased the potential of communication problems exponentially.
In Part 1 of this series, we outlined three of the most common communication pitfalls auto dealerships experience. In this article, let’s discuss how to address these issues.
The 3 Common Pitfalls of Dealership Communication and How to Address Them
Pitfall #1: Failing to Set a Company-wide Tone — Solution: Set a Brand-Specific Tone Across All Platforms
Like all businesses, auto dealerships are brands that should be marketed as such. At a high level, they represent the brands of the specific vehicles they sell – manufacturers known for sleek sports cars with powerful engines or quirky compact cars targeted at millennials. However, dealerships also represent the brand crafted by each individual owner, and what your brand becomes known for will set you apart from other dealerships selling the same types of vehicles.
Whatever the crux of your brand is – high-end and elegant, fun and upbeat, or family-friendly – your entire staff must be trained to represent and communicate this with every customer interaction. This includes everyone from sales associates to service advisors. Proper training will ensure consistency across all platforms, from phone conversations, in-person interactions, and social media posts.
Auto dealership management needs to not only demonstrate this consistency themselves; they must take the time to properly communicate what is expected of each staff member and provide constructive feedback. With the entire team on the same page, executing brand-consistent communication becomes much easier.
Pitfall #2: Not Accounting for Varying Writing Skills/Styles — Solution: Create Templates for Various Communication Scenarios
In a digital age where emailing and texting are everyday norms, poor writing skills become extremely hard to hide. While an employee may be personable and effective when talking to customers in person, if they struggle to communicate effectively in writing, this can negatively impact the business.
Inc. reports that many businesses are tackling this problem head-on, spending upwards of $3.1 billion dollars on remedial writing education for their employees. You don’t necessarily have to shell out cash for writing classes, however: you can likely get around this communications hurdle by preparing a lineup of templates for employees to utilize in different situations they may face with customers.
Examples might be “I appreciate you stopping in to talk with me about our selection of vehicles!” or “I’m sorry you had a negative experience at our dealership; is there a good time to talk about it on the phone so we can make it right?” Templates don’t mean everything has to be cold and pre-set; employees can add in a personal greeting at the top to personalize each message. Laying out pre-written messages will not only help ensure picture-perfect communication; it will also help you adhere to the company-wide tone set when you avoided Pitfall #1.
Pitfall #3: Not Addressing the Limitations of Written Communication — Solution: Recognize When Written Communication Will Not Suffice
As convenient as written communication may be, it’s essential to train employees to use good common sense about when to reach out to a customer over the phone. In-person communication is best for matters that are time-sensitive, for example – if a car is on the rack and a service advisor needs the customer to approve a costly repair before it moves forward. Written communication such as texts and emails can also fail when conveying complex or confusing information, and talking live will allow the customer to ask questions in real-time.
It’s also important to be cautious with written communication when a serious customer service problem arises. As it can be difficult to gauge the tone or intent of an email or text message, it’s typically best to have service/sales staff or management reach out in person to address any problems a customer may have experienced in their interaction with the dealership. This human touch can make all the difference in putting things back on the right track.
Communication can be complex, especially with all of the current digital options. With a lot of planning and the right training, your dealership can avoid many pitfalls that can hurt both sales and customer retention.