How Equipment Dealers can Transform Customer Communication in the New Year

Jan 26
min Read
Dealer Webinar

[Webinar Transcript from January 2023]

Hey 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 transforming customer communication in the new year, some things you can do to improve communication. We're going to start off by talking about Kenect for about five minutes and then we'll get into the meat of the webinar. So shouldn't be more than about 20 minutes total. And if you have any questions, please feel free to type them in the questions tab on the side panel there 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're founded by dealers and build for dealers. So we help you communicate more efficiently, generate new leads, collects payments via text message and drive online reviews. We're the sixth fastest growing software company in Utah. That's according to Inc. 5000. And this is the second year in a row that we've been on that Inc. 5000 list. So we've seen tremendous growth over the last couple years as more and more people realize the benefits of technology and how it can help communication with customers.

So how do we do it? Two-way text messaging from your dealership without giving out your personal cell numbers. This is all done through your existing business phone line. So that number that you've been giving out to customers for years, we just add texting to it and you're able to use it and able to communicate with customers. Web leads straight from your website, collect payments via text message and online review generation and reputation management.

So why text messaging? Because your customers prefer it. 89% of customers would prefer to interact with businesses via text message rather than a phone call. And 98% of all text messages are opened with 95% of those read within three minutes. So you're going to get information to and from customers faster and it's going to be an easy way for you to connect with them. 96% of consumers 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. And this quote over here is just by one of the customers that uses us. "By using Kenect, we're saving approximately 50 hours of labor weekly that would've been spent talking on the phone with customers." So you're saving time and you're able to communicate with customers the way they want to be communicated with.

This is what the inbox looks like. When somebody texts in, this is what you'll see. It's a similar look to like an email layout, but you'll see the numbers on the side there. As you get more information, you can put their name in and then it'll pop up every time they send in a text. You can see the history, you can see everything that they're sending in and who's responded. You can choose who you want to respond to in this inbox and you can choose which employees you'd like to have access to this platform. So you're able to manage this all through that one business line, that single business line right through this platform.

And then we also have a free mobile app that you can use right on your phone, and especially in service bay, this comes in very handy. You're able to send pictures, you're able to send videos, to show customers what you're working on. You can text them with updates and all of that right there on your phone. You don't have to go find a computer; you can just pull out your phone. As long as you have a signal, you're able to send that photo to the customer. It’s free in the app store and right there on your phone.

Top seven ways that equipment dealers use Kenect. Scheduling appointments, setting up automated reminders and sending status updates, sending quick information like hours maps or your machines ready for pickup, sending targeted warranty reminders and scheduling maintenance notices. You can also collect payments via text message attachments, send photos, videos, invoices and PDFs. You can also send any bills that might arise or if there's any questions about that, you can send it right to the customer. Generate online reviews on Google and Facebook and then capture more leads from Facebook, Instagram, and your website.

Planning for technology improvements

You want to make sure you're set up the right way as you head into the new year and make sure you're set up in a way that will offer customers an easy way to communicate with you to get information to and from them faster. Customers are texting more. This is a growing trend, and it really isn't showing a sign of slowing down. According to Pew Research, 81% of Americans now own a smartphone. That's around 300 million people in the US. That's a huge number. That's not just young people texting all the time. That's spanning across generations pretty much almost every American has a phone or has access to a smartphone. So 78% of buyers say checking, sending and answering text messages is the primary way that they use their phones. And we've seen 61% of people admit to spending more time texting daily since 2020. So during the pandemic, this has really shot up and it's because it's convenient and customers realize the benefits of it. They don't have to go in person. They don't have to have a phone call that may last a few minutes. They can just text questions and they get an answer right back. So texting, not calling is the key.

As we head into the new year, there are some things that small businesses are having issues with. 80% of small businesses are not taking full advantage of digital tools because 40% actually believe that digital tools are not even relevant to their business. But the biggest barrier for small businesses when it comes to these technologies is that they're not aware of the benefits of the digital tools. They're not aware of how important texting is to customers and how important it can be to their business and how easy it is to add texting to their business.

So that's the key here, is to make sure you're aware of digital technology and that it is available to your business. This is just from dealers that use us. So we've seen this growth, 55% increase in text message volume per dealer year over year. And dealers are now incomplete completing entire transactions via text, sales and service, and all of that's new. This is a trend that really started over the pandemic. Like we showed you earlier, more people are texting in the last couple years, but we've seen that growth just continue. It hasn't really shown any sign of slowing down and we don't expect it to. We know that customers are expecting businesses to have texting and the more customers that expect this, the more it keeps going up and up. And so we want to make sure that businesses have the technology and are able to use it.

80% increase in MMS message volume per dealer year over year. So this is just pictures that are sent back and forth to customers and usually when that happens, it indicates a service up sale or a serious sales engagement. This is on the increase too and this is pictures that you could send to customers from the piece of equipment you're working on, anything. You're able to show them exactly what's happening and you're able to send those images. And that's something that a lot of small businesses didn't think was possible even just a few years ago. And now, it's right there. It's what customers are expecting and it's not as difficult and daunting as it may seem to these small businesses.

Finding solutions to technology. First off, you should provide contact information. Have a place to store contact information. You might already have that, but you might not have a platform that allows you to communicate right there within that platform. And that's the key here, is to make sure you have an updated contact list with an ability to communicate with those customers right away.

Have an online presence. Do you have a website? A place for customers to reach you? Making sure you have an option for customers to text you, a little button at the bottom of your website, “text us,” that kind of thing. Offer online payment options. So do you offer text-to-pay? Can customers prepay for items and services? That's another question that a lot of businesses don't even bother because they think it doesn't apply to them. They're small businesses, they don't need that. But a lot of customers are seeing text to pay and they're seeing the benefits of it and now, they're expecting businesses to have it and it's really not as difficult as it may seem.

Also, use efficient software. Is your system the best way to reach and communicate with customers? That's the key here, is to make sure you're finding that best way to reach customers and making sure communication is easily flowing between you and your customer.

Create a texting plan

You may have something already set up, but you might want to make sure if you don't, just pick a communication platform for your business. Texting, not phone calls. So make sure you're choosing something that offers some sort of messaging, texting, try developing solutions like standardizing workloads and then push back deadlines that are urgent. Focus on keeping service department and sales running smoothly. That's not to say you want to push back goals. I'm just talking about deadlines as in we want to make sure that this platform has a good start. It gets a good leg up, so we want to make sure it's working in the proper form. Make sure that you're giving it the green light and you have a way for customers and a plan for your employees to reach customers so you can focus on that and make sure things are running smoothly. So automate certain tasks and then consider adding text-to-pay.

Remote payment popularity

It has grown in the last couple of years and like I talked about earlier, customers are really expecting this. It's all about customer convenience via contactless interaction and cards aren't really going away, but we'll shift to remote forms of payment. So it's all about simplicity and convenience with customers. The easiest way possible for them to pay for something and then pick up their equipment in a reasonable amount of time and very quickly.

Some data around text-to-pay, we've seen an 85% faster payment collection with text to pay from the customers that use us. So we've seen that growth over the last couple years and we've seen more and more people start to use text-to-pay. And payments on time nearly every time. And 45 minutes is the average time saved per person in the service department during the day. That is key here and it's because you're able to allow customers that option without having to come in, without having to give their card, and without having to put their number out over the phone, they're able to fill this information out themselves so you can have them prepay for things and come and pick it up without having to bother accounts receivable and without having to bother anyone over the phone in your showroom or anyone who's taking calls, a receptionist or anything like that. You're able to do this all over text and it's saving time. It's getting people in and out of your service bay and allowing you to bring more customers in and more equipment in to fix into that service bay and to make sure that you're being as efficient as possible.

Some dealers are also now running over 70% of their service payments through text to pay and 91% of customers prefer text to pay when they start using it. So once they've seen it, then they say, yep, we want text-to-pay and we want businesses to be able to offer this. So like I said, customers are seeing this and they are expecting businesses to have some sort of text-to-pay system. So make sure, and this is why small businesses may think this is not part of their plan and not suitable for their business, but it is and it's very easy to set up because customers already know it's there and they know how to use it. So once you've set it up, that learning curve's going to be pretty small. You're going to be probably shocked at how quick it's going to be because customers already know what text to pay is like, and they've used it before and it's something that they're expecting businesses to have.

So why use text-to-pay? I'm not going to go through all of these, but I'll just say collect service tickets and special repairs with a 98% open rate and then allows for after-hours pickups and remote drop-offs by collecting prepayments. This is what we were talking about. We can also offer curbside pickups. So making sure that you're offering that customer a quick and easy way to get in and out of your service department and a quick and easy way for them to get information from you whenever there's an issue, and to make sure that you give them an option to pay for things from the comfort of their own home. It's all about simplicity and convenience and making sure that you're giving the customer what they're looking for.

So this is how the platform looks. When you want to do text-to-pay, you click on the little icon down at the bottom and then you fill out the information. So the amount, the invoice number, the description, and then this is what you fill out to make sure that the customer knows where it's coming from. And then it'll send to the customer like this. And it'll have your logo at the top so that'll add a little extra trust as you can say, "Here's the text-to-pay link from us and it'll have our logo at the top, so it's from us. So you can fill it out with confidence." And then they'll fill the information out there, the card number and all that kind of stuff and it'll take a couple minutes, maybe a couple seconds, and then they're able to send that right back to you.

So text-to-pay volume. We just wanted to show you this because we know that customers are using it more, but this is just what we've seen in the last couple years. 15 times growth per month over the last two years and more than $14.5 million went through text to pay in March of 2022. So you can see the growth here. This isn't just compounded like each year; this is the money that's flowing through in just one month. These are the monthly figures, just each month how much money is flowing through text-to-pay. And you can see that trend just grow. We know that a lot more customers are expecting it. They probably will have asked you, I'm sure you've had customers ask you before, “do you offer text-to-pay?”

And this is something that is a trend that hasn't really shown a sign of slowing down. So it's not going to go away. And small businesses can have this. It's not as daunting as you may think. The learning curve is not that big. It’s something that you can offer customers and feel confident in that it's going to work.

The key benefits of texting here, I'll just go through these. Generate more leads from your website widget. That's the little text us button that we add on your website, generating dozens of five-star reviews and stand out online to sell more units. Use video chat in sales and service, collect deposits and payments from sales and service customers via text message, save time and sell more by sending photos, videos, and surveys. And then text from your existing business line instead of your personal line. Making sure you're offering customers a texting option from that existing business line. It's the number you've given to customers for years. You're just adding texting to it. We call your carrier. We set that up. You don't have to do anything. As soon as you sign up for Kenect, we'll connect with your carrier and make sure that you have that texting option. So it's really simple and really easy and a way for you to connect with your customers without having to give a new number. You don't have to do that. You don't have to give out personal cell numbers. You're just able to communicate with them. You don't have to give them a call. You can just text them through that existing business line.

If you have any questions, please feel free to text us or call us, 888-972-7422. We'd love to give you a free demo and show you the features, other features that could be offered and how that would look for your business. We also can walk you through this technology because I know that there's probably a lot of questions, especially from small businesses.

Thank you so much and have a great rest of your week.

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