Businesses today interact with their customers in a variety of ways – meeting with them in person, talking with them on the phone, emailing, as well as texting with them. Add in an array of social media and other online platforms, and the methods of dealership communication with customers seem almost endless.
With all of this information being exchanged, it may seem surprising that poor communication could possibly be a problem. Not only is it a huge issue; it’s one that costs businesses billions of dollars every year.
Dealership Communication: The 3 Pitfalls You Must Avoid
Pitfall #1: Failing to Set a Company-wide Tone
Good communication with customers is rooted in good communication within the company. A study by The Holmes Report showed that bad communication within businesses causes a loss of approximately $37 billion a year. It can also impact the bottom line when management fails to create a company-wide tone that sets communication standards for the business and the brand.
What happens when there is no standard of communication or shared values in an auto dealership? No one knows what is expected of them or how to properly represent the brand. Failing to institute a standard and properly train employees to put everyone on the same page when it comes to communication can lead to confusion and negative interactions between customers and your staff. Imagine a customer’s surprise should they call up a local luxury auto dealership only to be greeted in an informal manner and be told, “Uh, yeah, man. We’ll be around, so just stop by whenever and we’ll show you what’s on the lot.”
Social media is a prime platform where proper communication can help a business really represent their brand, while poor training in this area can create real embarrassment. With a big enough digital faux pas, it might even land a company on the Forbes annual list of “Biggest Social Media Fails.”
Pitfall #2: Not Accounting for Varying Writing Skills/Styles
Years ago, the majority of one-on-one communication between auto dealerships and their customers was carried out on the phone and in person. If there was any written communication, it would come in the form of mass mailers letting people know about upcoming sales or complimentary maintenance program reminders.
In today’s digital age, interaction between a customer and their service advisor or a sales associate is just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks away. While this is convenient, it can be a pitfall if dealerships don’t account for employees’ varying writing skills and styles. While an email with the subject line of “Hey” or a text filled with spelling and punctuation errors may get the point across, it may also send the wrong idea about your business and overall brand – lowering customer confidence and discouraging them from returning.
Pitfall #3: Not Addressing the Limitations of Written Communication
Some customers prefer email correspondence and many employees enjoy doing business in this way, as it allows them convenient communication on a timeframe that works for both sides. While an email may be the perfect vehicle to let customers know about dealership events and sales, as well as to remind them of upcoming complimentary maintenance appointments, it might not be the best way to communicate in all situations. Especially if a problem arises, emailing can be a slow and ineffective way to address it – potentially resulting in the customer dropping out of communication altogether.
Additionally, the tone of written communication can be hard to judge. This can give rise to misunderstandings that wouldn’t otherwise result over the phone or in person. (This also applies to communicating via text message, where tone and expectations can be even more difficult to gauge than via a more lengthy email message.)
Now that we’ve raised awareness about some of the biggest communications pitfalls that auto dealerships commonly face, let’s move on to Part 2 of this series, where we’ll discuss how to avoid them!