Equipment Dealers: Using Texting to Increase Customer Communication

Nov 21
min Read
Dealer Webinar

[Webinar transcript from November 2022]

Hi everyone. Thanks for joining us today. My name is Ben. I'm on the marketing team here at Kenect. Today we're going to talk about using texting to increase customer communication. I know it's been a topic for a lot of dealers and small businesses that are trying to figure out how texting is going to help them. So we're going to give you some tips and show you some things that you need to know if you're starting out a texting plan.

So first off, we're going to talk about Kenect for about five minutes, then getting to the meat of the webinar. So it shouldn't be more than about 20 minutes. And then if you have any questions, please feel free to type them in on the questions tab over on the side panel and we'll get to them throughout this webinar or for sure at the end when there's more time. So with that, let's get started here.

Who is Kenect?

We're based on the Silicon Slopes of Utah. That's just outside Salt Lake City. We're a text messaging platform for equipment dealers throughout North America and we were founded by dealers and built for dealers. So we help you communicate more efficiently, generate new leads, collect payments via text message and drive online reviews. With a sixth fastest growing software company in Utah, according to Inc. 5000, and this is the second year in a row that we've been on the Inc. 5000 list showing tremendous growth as more businesses realize the benefits of texting and realize that customers would like to communicate that way.

So how do we do it? Two-way text messaging from your dealership so you don't have to give out your personal cell number anymore. This platform is done through your existing business phone line. So you have that number that you've been giving out to customers for years maybe, and you've been using it for just phone calls. Now we're just adding texting to it. So it's another tool for your customers to reach you. Web leads straight from your website, collecting payments via text message, and then online review generation and reputation management.

So why text messaging? Because your customers prefer it. 89% of consumers would prefer to interact with business via text message rather than a phone call. And 98% of all text messages are open with 95% of those read within three minutes. So this is the preferred form of communication for customers. They would rather text you and you're going to be able to get information to and from them faster. So you're going to be able to get their questions answered quickly and then you're going to be able to get approval for service department, approval for sales, all that stuff through texting quickly because they're reading these within three minutes and responding. 96% of customers find phone calls to be disruptive and 78% of US consumers say receiving a text message is the fastest way to reach them for important service updates and purchases.

So when somebody text in, what does it look like? You see it through this inbox. This is the platform and it's laid out similar to an email layout, but you can see the numbers over there on the side. As you get more information and more contact info, then the names will pop up as each text comes in and you'll be able to see the past conversations, the history. And you can decide which employees you want to have access to this platform. So that's the key here is making sure that you're on board with what this platform is and your employees and whatnot and making sure that they know how to use this and that you figure out who you'd like to have use it, especially in your service department or sales. Maybe you don't have everybody use it, maybe you have just certain people, but that's the key here is to make sure you have that plan in place.

So this is what it looks like and again, similar layout, but you can see that the conversations pop up and even if they've been months in the past, you can see where these conversations left off, maybe the question wasn't answered or maybe they have a similar question. So you can see that in the history there. It's also available in a mobile app. So this is free in the app store. This comes in very handy in service department communication because you're able to use the camera to go to show them pictures, or maybe do a video chat around a piece of equipment that you're working on. So you can show that customer exactly what's going on and then you can get responses faster because they're doing it through texting and people respond faster through texting.

So again, free in the app store and you can use it anywhere you get a signal and it's right there in your pocket rather than hauling a computer around with for that platform. You can use this on your phone and it's done through that existing business phone line. So you're not using your personal cell phone, but you can get set up notifications just like a normal text would come in. But it's coming in through that platform and through that business line.

So top seven ways that equipment dealers use Kenect. Scheduling appointments, setting of automated reminders and sending status updates. You can send quick information like hours maps or your machines ready for pickup. Send targeted warranty reminders and schedule maintenance notices, collect payments via text message attached and send photos, videos, invoices and PDFs. You can generate online reviews on Google and Facebook, capture more leads from Facebook, Instagram, and your website.

Improving customer communication through texting

So today we're want to talk about improving customer communication, the plan that you might have in place and then some tips that you can have to keep this streamlined and to make sure that customers are able to reach you via text and you're able to reach them back. So some basic information here, customers are texting more. According to Pew Research, 81% of Americans now own a smartphone, that's around 300 million people in the US. And basically what this means is that we all thought this was a younger generational thing, but we know now that more Americans across generations are owning smartphones and are texting. 78% of buyers say checking, sending and answering text messages is the primary way that they use their smartphones. So that's the key here is they're using texting more, they're pretty much taking these smartphones and that's the reason they got them. 61% of people admit to spending more time texting daily since 2020.

So that's pretty much goes along with what the data shows from us that we've seen this really grow over the pandemic pretty much because people needed a way to communicate with businesses without having to come in, without having to make a phone call. They wanted a quick and easy way to do it and texting became that way and that's the future of what customers were asking of businesses because they saw how easy it was during the pandemic. And we've seen the growth just in the dealers that use us. We've seen a 55% increase in text message volume per dealer year over year and dealers are now completing entire transactions via text sales and service, and all of that is new because they really didn't see this as a way for them to complete transactions. It was a way for them to communicate.

But now with text-to-pay, which I'll get into in just a few minutes, you're able to have the customer complete that themselves. They don't have to call in their credit card number, they don't have to come in and physically swipe the card. You're able to have them complete it over the phone through a link with that text and it's really simple and easy for them and that's what they're looking for.

Text messages with images also increased. We've seen 80% increase in MMS message volume per dealer year over year. And when pictures are sent back and forth, it usually indicates a service upsell or a serious sales engagement. And what that means is you're able to show customers exactly what's going on in your showroom or exactly what's going on in your service bay and you're able to give them a picture and they can see what you have. And especially in your service department, maybe they're looking for something a little more of an upgrade or maybe they're just looking for the options that you have. If you're able to show them quickly, here's the three parts that we have in stock, here's the mid-range, high-end range, low range, that thing, the customer's able to figure that out for themselves and pick that option. But they can upsell because you're able to show them quickly exactly what you have in stock.

Maybe they're texting in and they want to know about a piece of equipment that they saw online. You say, "Yeah, we have this piece of equipment in, we also have these two others. Slightly more expensive. But in the newer model maybe you saw the older model online,” and maybe that's how you get that upsell. So it's a quicker, easier way for you to upsell without having to pressure too much and without having to telling them something over the phone. You can just show them a picture and they'll see exactly what it looks like and exactly what you're talking about. So that's where that comes in.

Creating a texting plan. So maybe some of you have created a texting plan, but you want to make sure that you have started one or at least have some idea because customers are going to be asking about it if they haven't already. You probably have experienced this where they probably asked... You probably had a couple customers ask you, "How do we text you? How do we get in touch?" And you might say, "We don't have a texting plan in place, but you are starting to think about it."

Creating a texting plan

So first off, you want to set expectations about communications with employees and customers. And what I mean by that is try to set boundaries, what employees should expect customers to respond and when they should be responding, the timeframe. You set expectations about how late they can respond to text or you set up an automated message so that they would get a response and what customers can expect of you. How often you'll respond? What they expect as far as staffing goes, all that stuff? Setting expectations on texting. Try developing solutions like standardizing workloads.

So you develop a solution in both your service bay and your showroom floor to try to figure out how this is going to work and who's going to be texting that goes along with who you allow to use that platform. What you've decided that you want to use that platform. Push back deadline that aren't urgent and focused on keeping service department and sales running smoothly. What I mean by that is not necessarily that you're pushing back deadlines like major ones, but things that are just like everyday items for maybe a couple weeks or maybe a couple days, as long as it takes for you to get the idea of texting into the forefront, make it more of a normal thing. You just want customers and employees to feel comfortable with it and then get back into the routine.

So you don't have to give up your sales numbers or anything like that. Nothing big, just little deadlines during the day, just little things so that you're focusing more on trying to make sure texting is off the ground and running and there's really no hiccups and people feel comfortable with it and it works. Automate certain tasks and then of course text not calling because we've showed you before, people are expecting text and they'd rather text businesses than call and they find phone calls to be disruptive. So we definitely want to make sure you're texting, not calling.

Setting up text-to-pay

I talked about this a little bit. Remote payment popularity. I just wanted to go through some of the numbers because they're pretty jarring in far as what we're seeing and what we have seen in the last couple years. It's gained momentum during the pandemic and hasn't really stopped. Customer convenience via contactless interaction. A lot of customers are taking that into account, they want that convenience, they don't want to have to come in anymore. They've seen how text-to-pay works and they want it. Cards aren't going away, but we'll shift to remote forms of payment and then it's all about simplicity and convenience.

So I wanted to show you some of the data around text-to-pay and this is just what we've gathered from the dealers that use us. Once they've started using text-to-pay, this is what we've seen, 85% faster payment collection with text-to-pay. And that's because people are using this more. They're sending that link and people are filling it out and sending it back. Payments on time nearly every time because the customer's filling that out themselves. And this is a key here, 45 minutes is the average time save per person in your service department during the day. That's huge. That's a lot of time. When you add it all up per person, per customer that comes in and then per customer, you're not going to be able to get because you are keeping that existing customer in that service bay longer than you should.

So if you're saving 45 minutes per customer, that adds up. That adds to more customers, that adds up to more time you're able to put into other efforts. That adds up to less staffing that you may need if you're having staffing issues, all of that stuff adds up. So 45 minutes is a large number but it also shows you how much time customers are wasting or how much time you are wasting on maybe accounts receivable and on maybe on having them call in, having them have to come in before they actually pay. If they need to prepay, that's easy. They do it over the phone, they do it through a link. Very simple for them to do and very easy for them to do it themselves and saving so much time.

Some dealers are also now running over 70% of service payments through text-to-pay. And then here's another big number, 91% of customers prefer text-to-pay when they start using it. And what that means is once they've seen how it works and how easy it is, they're going to want to start using it. And I guarantee you some other businesses have used this before, use text-to-pay, use this system and customers have seen it and they're expecting businesses to have that because once they've seen how easy text-to-pay is, they're going to ask, "Why don't you guys have it? Why don't you have this all set up because it's really simple for us and we're happy to prepay?" All that kind of stuff, they've seen it. They've seen it over the pandemic as more businesses have found ways to communicate without having to have the in-person interactions. And that's the key here is making sure you're meeting customers where they want to be.

So why use text-to-pay? I'll just go through this real quick because we've gone through a lot of it. Collect deposits and payments via text message on sales and service. Collects on service tickets, special order parts with a 98% open rate like we were talking about earlier. Allow for after-hours pickups and remote drop offs by collecting prepayments. You can increase over the phone sales and offer curbside pickup. Get paid faster and reduce accounts receivable. I just wanted to touch on this a little more.

Reducing accounts receivable is not just for that department. If you're saving time with that and you're having employees not having to deal with accounts receivable, then you can put employees to use in other areas of your business. If you're having employees, not having to call, wait for callbacks, spend hours on the phone, waiting for a phone call back, waiting for days maybe for a response on email, all that stuff, you're just texting. You're using those texts, you're using automated texts, you're sending them a link, you're putting the ball in the customer's court to try to do that.

You're still going to have some accounts receivable of course to try to make sure that customers are paying. But we've seen more customers paying on time because they are using it themselves and using the link and putting the information in themselves. So you're able to cut down on the customer's time, you're able to cut down on your employees time as well and then put that employee to use somewhere else. Especially with staffing issues that we've had, that can be a lifesaver to have an extra few hours of the cut that of your employee can use in other areas and then next day funding it in 100% secure.

So we want to talk about this. This is what it would look like just to show you. You click on the button at the bottom, you send the customer the link, but you fill this out, the amount, the invoice, the description, everything that you need for the customer to fill it out. And then they get this and then they fill that information out themselves so they fill their card number, their name, all that stuff and then you'll know it's from you because you're going to be able to change that logo at the top. So that logo right there, the wheeler recreation, that changes to whatever you want that for your own business. So you can choose what the logo is and then when you're texting somebody to say, "Here's our text-to-pay link, you'll know from us you can say because our logo's at the top," and then it'll increase trust. Customers will be able to see that and they'll be able to respond quickly and they'll feel better about sending their information over the text quickly.

Locations with text-to-pay. We've had 1,600 plus locations using text-to-pay on a regular basis and that's just in the last two years. We've seen that growth go during the pandemic and it really hasn't shown signs of slowing down. And then the big one here is text-to-pay volume. We've seen a 15 times growth per month in the last two years, that's from April, 2020 to March of 2022. We've seen this grow exponentially and this isn't just adding up each month. It's not just adding on top of each one. This is just the number that goes through each month.

So just in March of 2022 was 14.5 million in just people using text-to-pay. And that's huge because we've seen that shift go in the last couple years. But we know now that the shift is trending past that and we know that customers are seeing it and wanting it. And that's the key here is we want to make sure we're meeting customers where they want to be and using text-to-pay in the way that helps them get through the process faster, get in and out of our service bag, get of our sales floor to make sure you're getting that sale. And the process is smooth and easy and the communication is easy.

A couple customer convenience use cases that I wanted to point out. In the service department, customer has repaired on in their equipment, they can text the payment to a dealership immediately upon completion rather than having to pay via invoice or wait for the card to swap. So you get paid in minutes and not hours. And then in sales department, deposits on new units can be paid via text rather than waiting for the check to clear or the buyer to come in and swipe the card.

So if a customer texts in through that platform and says, "I saw this piece of equipment that I like, can I put a deposit down?" Generally, you would've said, "Come on in and we will make sure you get it saved. You better come in soon." But now you can do text-to-pay and you can have them put their deposit down right then and there pretty much within minutes if they like what they see. That's the difference here. And that's key because then you can put that deposit down, you have more sales coming in faster and you're able to show the customer that you're up to date, up to speed, ready to take their payments and ready to get this transaction going fast. So that's key here.

Six benefits of texting. Just going through these, generating more leads via our website widget, that's a little text us button that we can add to your website. Generating dozens of five star reviews and standing out online to sell more units. Using video chat and sales and service for more effective communication. Like I said, walking around a piece of equipment in the sales floor or walking around into the service base, you show the customer exactly what they're looking at. You can do that all through that texting platform. Collect deposits and payments from sales and service customers via text message. Save time and sell more by sending photos, video surveys, et cetera. And then text from your existing business phone line instead of your personal phone line. So you don't have to have every person having their personal line out there. All this does done through that platform, done through your existing business line.

So all those texts that come in, they're done, they're texted into that line. And then when you text out, whoever's texting, doesn't matter who, as long as they're texting in that platform, it's going to go out through that business line. And we contact your carrier, we add that onto your plan. It's not that hard. People do that every day on their personal cell phones and so you just add it to your business line, it's very easy and we set that all up for you. So as soon as you sign up, it'll take minutes for us to get that going. So you'll be able to text customers almost right away and you'll be able to show them that yes, we do have texting, yes, we are meeting your needs and we do see that you are wanting texting and we're going to need that demand.

So make sure you have a plan. If you have any questions about that and what it would look like, please feel free to text us. You can also call us if you need to, 888-972-7422. I had a question over here. Is there a plan to add the desktop app? So Kenect is a desktop app and then we add phone line on top of that or you can add that mobile app that's free on top of that for whoever you'd like to have access to it. Through your plan, you can decide what the password is for everybody and then give whoever you want that password in your business. So that's up to you. But that desktop app is there all the time. That's the platform that we're talking about.

The mobile app is the one that's optional for you, but you're going to be using it a lot because you can set up notifications like a normal text message, although it's going to go through that business line, through that platform. So you're going to be able to get those texts pretty much anytime you want or anytime you feel like it. You can also set up automated texts that texts back after hours so you can see the texts that come in, but then you're going to be able to get those automated texts to people after a certain time, maybe 10:00 PM whatever you decide. So all of that is done through that app and you're able to see that on your phone and you're able to see that on your desktop, whichever platform source you'd like to have.

So again, if you have any questions or would like to see how these features would add up for you, what features would be best, feel free to call us, get a free demo, text us, 888-972-7422. We'd love to hear from you and love to make sure to show you how easy this is. Your customers are expecting you to text, so we want to make sure that this process is easy for you. Thanks so much for your time, really appreciate it and have a great rest of your week.

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