How Car Dealerships Can Use Messaging App Customer Communication
Many car dealerships and auto shops offer customer information digitally – but their service is usually analog. If the employees do happen to use messaging apps in customer service, there’s often a problem with data protection compliance. We can show you how the automotive industry can improve customer communication using messaging apps in a secure, GDPR-compliant way.
- How to make messaging app customer service GDPR-compliant
- Why car dealerships should offer messaging app customer service
- Five use cases for excellent messaging app communication
- Your professional solution: the Messenger Communication Platform
Many car dealership employees already use WhatsApp & Co. for their customer communication. The problem is that they tend to use WhatsApp on their private phone, which actually goes against both the GDPR as well as the WhatsApp terms and conditions. Another problem for the business itself is that when employees leave, they take the customer data with them. To avoid these issues, your car dealership should use a third-party provider like MessengerPeople. Our solution is completely GDPR-compliant, we work officially with WhatsApp as a Business Solution provider, and our data is stored centrally on a server in Europe. You can read more about GDPR-compliance for WhatsApp customer service in our deep-dive article.
1. Higher customer satisfaction
Messaging app customer service is fast, innovative and leads to smoother customer experiences. By using messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or iMessage, you can increase customer satisfaction. The Washington Post has showed that customer service via messaging apps results in 25% higher customer satisfaction than over email.
2. More attention
Messaging apps are used for real-time dialogues with multimedia support. Documents, videos, photos, voice messages etc. can be sent in just seconds. Additionally, WhatsApp messages appear on the user’s lock screen, allowing you to capture your user’s attention.
3. Lower costs
Automation processes with easy to build chatbots can save you resources. For example, if you set up a chatbot in First Level Support to pre-qualify customers and their requests, your resources can be invested in better second-level support, for example. Your employees can spend more time handling complicated requests with a personal touch.
4. Better reachability
Communication via messaging apps is completely independent from the car dealership’s opening hours. With the help of chatbots, you can offer excellent service 24/7.
5. Better customer connection
WhatsApp and other messaging apps are primarily used to communicate with family and friends. When businesses or service providers engage with customers on these channels, they’re allowed into their inner circle and can profit from a closer, more direct customer relationship.
“The number of recall requests has decreased massively. Status requests by telephone are at almost zero.”
“Many older people also have reactived positively to this service and make enthusiastic use of it.”
“Our customers are excited about our WhatsApp service and often say that we’re the only vendor offering this.”
Albert Rösch, Head of Customer Service, BMW AG Munich branch
You want to learn more about the BMW WhatsApp Case?
What are specific situations in which car dealerships or auto repair shops can use messaging apps? We’ve gathered five useful examples of great use cases for innovative communication.
1. Appointment Scheduling
There are a variety of different ways that you can use messaging apps for appointment scheduling, both manually and through automation.
a) Using messaging apps
A customer writes to you via messaging app to set up an appointment. In the quick but asynchronous conversation (no one is sitting there waiting on the other party’s response) you easily settle on a date that works for the customer and can clarify all necessary details, such as the type of car, what needs to be done, and how long it will take.
b) Automated appointment scheduling
Your customer contacts your dealership via WhatsApp & Co. He would like to arrange a service appointment during which the engine should be washed and the most important components inspected. First, a chatbot gathers the most important customer data, such as whether he is a new customer, contact information, car information, etc. If the customer is new, he can easily register by sending a picture of the vehicle registration document. The bot then asks what type of appointment the customer is looking for and what dates work. When the customer confirms a date and time, the bot confirms this messages.
Best Practice Example: Volkswagen Frankfurt uses a chatbot for appointment scheduling
At Volkswagen Frankfurt, a chatbot in First Level Support handles customer inquries for service appointments. In the first step, customers are asked for the most important data and information , for example whether they are already a customer or not. Once the type of appointment and the date itself have been confirmed, the bot passes the information on to the appropriate employee who continues the dialogue. Our short demo video shows you how a chatbot can help with an automated appointment.
c) Push notifications for appointment reminders
To remind your customer of the appointment a day or two before it takes place, you can use a notification message to remind him that the appointment is due and which documents he should have with him in any case. Important: before you send a WhatsApp notification to your customer, they have to previously have agreed to messaging app communication.
The two screenshots below show the WhatsApp appointment reminder from the user’s perspective.
Currently, WhatsApp allows companies to use notifications for 10 different scenarios. These range from payment requests, to appointment reminders, to travel updates. These are the most important WhatsApp notifications for car dealerships:
- Appointment Reminder – Remind your customers about important things such as scheduled appointments, regular technical check-ups, upcoming end of a leasing period, and more.
- Alert Update – Share urgent information with your customers immediately, for example, when an important software update needs to be added.
- Delivery Status – Inform your customer about the most important updates after after a new car purchase or order, such as production status, delivery date, pick-up time, etc.
2. Test Drives
Next use case: a customer writes to your dealership and is interested in taking a test drive. A chatbot can take over and ask the customer all necessary initial questions for scheduling the drive: age, whether the customer has already used this dealership before, which model they’re interested in, and what times and dates are possible. When the customer has answered these questions, the chatbot can confirm the appointment and send a reminder before the appointment – including what documents the customer should dbring with them.
Best Practice Example: Opel’s chatbot Chad schedules test drives
With “Chad,” Opel created a Facebook Messenger chatbot that makes it possible for customers to reserve nearby available car models for a test drive. Chat asks what model the customer is interested in, whether it should run on gas or diesel, and then for the customer’s area code. If there’s a car dealership in the area that offers test drives, the chatbot lets the user know that they can make the appointment directly there in the shop, or will connect you with a customer service employee.
3. Pre-Purchase Consultation
There are also a variety of ways that you can offer great client care and consultation via messaging apps.
a) Car configuration
Your customers can use a messaging app to configure their dream car with you. A chatbot can be set up to have access to the relevant options for the car. Customers no longer have to use the configurator on your website, but can do so completely via WhatsApp & Co. – meaning that the service is more accessible on the go and takes place on the channel they use the most. Step by step, the chatbot asks your customer about the model, the colour, the fuel type, the interior, the motorization and any extras that are available for selection. Once the customer has completed his configuration, the bot presents the result. This can be in the form of a picture, a summary of the extras, a short video, etc. If the customer has any questions, the bot can pass them on to a suitable employee in the chat.
b) Help with buying a new car
A customer contacts your dealership because he wants to buy a new car. Using WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, a bot can first clarify the most important questions (name, new customer or not, etc.), before handing the conversation over to an employee, with whom the customer can discuss other aspects, such as the model, financing options and more. Finally, you arrange a personal appointment to clarify details and take a drive with the targeted model. Before the appointment, you can send your customer a WhatsApp notification reminding him of what has been discussed so far and what documents he should bring with him.
Once the purchase has been made, you can inform the customer of the status of the car by using WhatsApp totifications to keep him informed about the production status, whereabouts, time, and place of delivery/collection.
c) Help with buying a used car
A customer is interested in a used car that he has discovered on your online portal. He sends you the link via messaging app and you know immediately what model it is. You provide information about the specifications of the car as well as the pricing. If necessary, you can make an appointment.
Another use case would be when a customer contacts your dealership via messaging app and wants to know which used cars are currently available and which suits him best. A chatbot presents the top 10 models and asks the customer for the most important features (model, mileage, initial registration, fuel type, etc.). The bot then hands the conversation over to the appropriate colleague, who discusses the details with the customer.
d) Replacement part consultation
A customer contacts your dealership because he needs a specific spare part for his car. In a quick messaging app dialogue you can tell him whether the spare part is in stock or has to be ordered and what it costs. In addition, you can forward the customer directly to a service technician if this makes sense.
4. Workshop communication
“My door’s jammed. What can I do?” Customers usually want to talk to the responsible service technician before, during or at the end of a repair: they have questions about their car or need to know the status of the repair. Sometimes during a repair, the serviceman discovers that the car has other defects. “Mr Mehner, your brake discs are pretty worn out. May I order a set of new brakes for you? The costs amount to a total of 800 euro including the installation.” These requests can be processed automatically and speed up communication in an intuitive way for the customer.
Best Practice Example: BMW automated their workshop customer service with #FollowNow
BMW Munich has automated its workshop customer service using WhatsApp. Once a customer drops off a vehicle in the workshop, automatic tracking begins. Via WhatsApp, customers can request the service status and pick-up date of their car by using a keyword. Appointment can be scheduled in a WhatsApp chat with an employee.
5. Internal communication
Car dealerships are often divided into two branches:
- the central branch, which supports the various locations in different cities and is responsile for centralized brand marketing
- the local branches, which are responsible for sales, regional promotion, and sometimes repairs
The smaller dealerships and the headquarters are usually in constant contact, for example if the dealer needs new advertising material or other documents from headquarters. This exchange still works today by telephone (which is time-consuming because the head office can only talk to one dealer at a time and not to several at the same time) or by e-mail (which takes a very long time because there is no direct response). Communication via messaging apps can help here! Your car dealership can order new advertising material quickly and directly via chat. A bot could help with the first selection and query the most important parameters such as size, content and quantities. This saves the head office a lot of work and the dealer a lot of time, which he can invest in advising customers.
These use cases are easy to implement using our Messenger Communication Platform. The platform is browser-based and can be started immediately, with no technological hurdles. The MCP is also completely GDPR-compliant and allows your car dealership to offer secure messaging app customer communication. The autorouting feature automatically assigns relevant tickets to the right agents, and our Chatbot Builder helps you create easy to use virtual assistants that can help with standardized dialogues, such as customer pre-qualification, appointment scheduling, and more. You can discover more about the Messenger Communication Platform on our product page.
Want to see for yourself exactly how to use messaging app customer service? Check out one of our free webinars including exclusive tool demos.
Have a great idea for e-commerce customer service via messaging apps and want to talk about it? Message us!