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Go Ahead, Text Your Customer

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Let’s just open it up with a confession. Last night, I was online shopping during my kids’ bath. I know. I should have been giving them 100% of my attention to soak up every minute of their fleeting childhood. To be fair, I was sitting right in front of them, glancing up every 30 seconds or so to make sure that the 4-year-old wasn’t dunking the 2-year-old’s head under water.

It would not have been possible for me to have been on a phone call with someone in an echo-y bathroom during that fiasco. It also was not an option for me to wait to order the water-proof mattress cover for my daughter’s bed since she had decided on Sunday evening she wanted to start potty-training the next day. Texting my way to purchase was the one way I could guarantee that by Monday I’d have a mattress cover and by Tuesday I wouldn’t need a new kid’s mattress.

Love it or hate it, text messaging has quickly become one the main ways people communicate. It’s certainly the most used data service in the world (Nielsen), with 8 trillion texts sent worldwide every year, not including app-to-app messaging (Domo). And WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger combine for more than 60 billion messages sent every day. (The Verge). In an industry where the sale cannot be made via text just yet, we are still seeing texting remove friction and speed up the consumer path to purchase in a big way.

I have texted with customer service representatives to complete my last three retail purchases: Zulily, Amazon and Nordstrom. I am not alone in this new wave of text message shopping addiction. About 550 million people visit official “buy-and-sell” Facebook Groups each month (Forbes). Plus, Paypal wisely got in on the game and launched an extension for Messenger that allows PayPal sellers to invoice buyers directly through private messaging. That is retail synergy as its finest., and it’s helping fuel a projected 40% increase in smartphone retail ecommerce sales for 2018 (eMarketer).

Texting is not just for big-name retail chains. On the DealerRater for Dealers app (iPhone/Android), automotive dealers’ customers have access to in-app texting directly with consumers. This feature is having an amazing impact for not just the consumer in this scenario, but also the representative on the other end of that text exchange. When a dealership’s salesperson can have a brief text conversation with a consumer to build rapport and establish trust before they arrive on the lot to complete the purchase, we’re seeing the in-person transaction takes less time, and more often than not the communication results in a sale.

So, open the communication channels up to your business and your people to interact with consumers on a place where most of them are already: on their phones texting.

 

Disclaimer: Texting is a great best practice but can occasionally can be the target of fraud. Be sure to review Cars.com’s Fraud Awareness Tips as you develop a texting strategy for your dealership.