More than a Message
A lot gets lost in translation when speaking about a repair over the phone. Though the customer may seem like they’re understanding everything, it’s usually clear that didn’t happen when they pick the vehicle up.
And that’s the best-case scenario—when you actually get them on the phone.
“I remember being a service writer way back in the day of pagers, and a customer was literally giving me five separate numbers to reach them at,” says BOLT ON’s Director of Educational Programs, John Burkhauser. “I never reached the guy, and he was very angry.”
For shops like Discount Tire & Service, which previously relied on phone calls, the process gets tricky when voicemails go unchecked.
“I think you can fall on your face sometimes when a customer calls and says, ‘What’s going on with my vehicle?,’” says Discount Tire & Service operations manager, Michael LiPetri. “The conversation can start off a lot better when you can initiate that contact.”
After taking a step back from what he had always done, LiPetri discovered BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY’s Message Manager that utilizes a faster, more efficient way to communicate with customers: text messaging.
Message Manager is a part of BOLT ON’s Pro Pack, which serves as an add-on to several management systems. Essentially, it’s a program that allows shops and customers to correspond via text message.
“[It’s] one of the most basic programs we have,” Burkhauser says. “It allows shops to use texting in quite a few different ways, so they can speed up communication with today’s people that much rather prefer communication by text as opposed to picking up a phone.”
While the feature serves as a texting program, it also offers schedule reminders, customer search database, preset messages, and photo/video capabilities.
“If a shop has a repair open, they can open Quick Message, and it will take that information right off that repair and have a cell number already. They can choose a prebuilt message, or hand type their own,” Burkhauser says. “They can use it to send pictures and full digital inspections.”
It works as a way to connect shops with customers, rather than leaving a voicemail and waiting on a reply.
“Most texts are opened in 90 seconds, and 99% of them are viewed within 24 hours,” Burkhauser says. “A lot of people say it’s impersonal, but it’s the accepted way for many people.”
Since implementing Message Manager, LiPetri has noticed positive changes in his shop and customer base.
“Text messaging has been awesome for more of the service side,” LiPetri says. “When the vehicles come in for the courtesy inspection, we can text [the inspection] right to the customer, and it almost resets the clock for us.”
“They know we’ve looked at the vehicle, and now they have this live feed that they can almost see as the technician is going through it—that’s really helpful for us.”
Message Manager has allowed his shop to build relationships through the photo feature.
“When you have videos and pictures supporting what a technician is saying, it makes a lot of sense,” LiPetri says. “There’s a picture that shows exactly what the issue is and that’s a huge factor of trust. It shows that we’re looking out for their interest and fostering loyalty.”
The product has also given LiPetri’s shop the opportunity to adjust schedules when an issue arises.
“Our commercial accounts are really the ones that we piloted the text appointment reminders for, and that’s worked really well,” LiPetri says. “One company might have 50 different vehicles to coordinate service on, and they each come in every six weeks.
“We had some issues in the past with keeping that schedule, and if one person misses an appointment, it’s hard to play catch up. [Message Manager] has been really helpful, especially with the commercial accounts to use those automatic reminders for.”
Besides benefiting the shop by providing real-time communication with customers, the feature takes a heavy burden off the service advisor.
“The service advisor is the center of the whole experience,” Burkhauser says. “When I text an inspection with pictures and videos [to the customer], it’s going to free up the service advisor, and they’re going to focus on things that make the shop profitable.”
Message Manager has also saved time for the technicians.
“With the tablets, it has eliminated so much paperwork for the technicians,” LiPetri says. “It’s eliminating all of these administrative tasks for the technicians and has really enabled them to focus solely on the vehicle.”