If you didn’t look at your cell phone before climbing out of bed this morning, you’re in the minority. The Pew Research Center reported last month that 95 percent of Americans own a cell phone of some kind. It’s become the go-to source for news, entertainment, and yes, even communication from time to time.
Obviously, the retail automotive industry has been moving towards texting as a method of communicating with customers, albeit much slower than other industries. The benefits are incredible:
Without a question, the cell phone is the best thing to happen to the way businesses communicate with their customers since the advent of email. But using it isn’t the be-all end-all for communication. And what you’ll find is that texting isn’t necessarily the best way to communicate with your customers in certain situations. There are limitations.
Sending quick messages is so easy with a cell phone. But if it’s like reading a novel, a text message isn’t the right way to get the message across. If there’s a bunch of detail you need to convey, texting isn’t right for the situation.
Instead, consider sending an email. You can write as much as you need, include attachments, and not be ‘that person’ who sends annoying long-form texts.
Texting is great for casual, open dialog. It can work really well in business situations. But when the tone turns from casual to either formal or negative, texting is definitely not the best media to use. There’s almost no way to interpret tone, which can make your discussion take a turn for the worse.
When your tone is formal or you’re trying to work through a dispute or concern, take the conversation to another format. Use email and CC a person in authority as a safeguard. Or, better yet, talk over the phone or face to face so there are no mistaken tones.
Ever sat at home and received text messages from your boss or someone who is invading your personal time? If the shop is closed, there’s a good chance (though not always) that the customer perceives your texts as an interruption. It’s an annoyance that can drive potential customers to another dealership. There have to be boundaries somewhere.
If you MUST talk with a customer after hours, make sure it’s on their terms. Start with ‘Pardon the interruption’ or something similar, and ask if it’s okay to talk now. But an overriding thought you should start with is, “Can this wait until I’m back in the shop?”
There will be some people who may not agree. If that’s the case, feel free to comment on your suggestions for proper texting as it relates to business.