ASK THE EXPERT: Changing Customer Expectations

Communicating with customers has never been easier – or more complex at the same time. But with new technologies, your shop can communicate clearly, more efficiently and well within the legal parameters. Our own Marcus Mackell, product marketing manager for SocialCRM recently spoke with Motor Age and dove into the way’s customer communication tactics have changed, and how communication will look in the future.

Here are some guidelines that Marcus shared of some best practices and what businesses should look for in years to come.

Q1 – What have you heard from repair shops regarding what they need with new methods of communication with their customers?

A – What I’ve heard and seen over the past few years is that repair shops started to adopt technologies that weren’t always viewed as acceptable in business when you thought about customer communication.  Technologies such as social media and most notably SMS text messages have become the preferred method of communication. When I think back 5 years ago, text message communication wasn’t even on the radar for most repair shops. Now, most recognize how important it is to use text messages to communicate and understand the overall value. Being able to interact with their customers instantly with important reminders and notices related to the vehicle goes a long way in the development of a longstanding customer relationship. Plus, text messages have extremely high engagement with an open rate of almost 99% and response time of about 90 seconds, making it one of the most effective forms of communication out there.


Q2 – There are legal ramifications if this is not handled properly. What do shops need to be mindful of?

A – This is especially true when you’re referring to SMS text message communication. There are certain legal regulations that every shop needs to be mindful of when considering adopting an SMS texting solution for their business. Things like getting the right level of permission or “consent”; you cannot just send your customers a text message whenever you want, you have to have proper consent. The type of message you’re trying to send also matters because there are different levels of consent. Are you informing your customers of an upcoming appointment or are you marketing to them by sending promotional messages? Each requires a different level of consent. How about the time of day you plan to send your message and the frequency? That’s regulated too. You also have to give your customers a chance to opt out.


These are just some of the things a repair shop owner needs to account for when adopting a texting message strategy for their business. It’s always a good idea to consult experts for legal advice, and also check the  TCPA or Telephone Consumer Protection Act which contains all of the legal dos and don’ts regarding texting regulations. The good news is that Mitchell 1 SocialCRM has already done the heavy lifting and incorporated solutions that help you cover most requirements for texting.


Q3 – Mitchell 1 recently updated its SocialCRM platform, though, and offers this service for shops. What does it include?

A – Yes, we’ve enhanced our program’s texting feature by adding personalized marketing text message campaigns to our current solution. This feature gives subscribing shops the ability to create personalized marketing text messages on-the-fly and send them to their customers with a click. We also included an automated way to collect the proper level of consent (Prior Expressed Written Consent) from their current customers, which is required before they can send any text messages that promote goods or services.


Q4 – What are some best practices that shops should bear in mind when implementing text campaigns?

  • Make sure to be clear on the type of messages you’re sending and to whom. Make sure your message is relevant to the recipient.
  • Be mindful of frequency and time of day.
  • Provide a way to opt out.
  • Make sure to get the right type of consent.
  • Choose the right provider. The right provider should have you covered on the items above.


Q5 – As things shift back to reopening and going back to “normal,” how do you see technologies like text campaigns continuing to be a part of normal business?

A – The need for a repair shop to connect with customers instantly is not going away. Once a repair shop starts using texting to communicate they really can’t go back. Customers will grow accustomed to that level of connection and once that happens I doubt a business will abandon it after that. I truly believe that text communication will be here for the foreseeable future.


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About the Author

Marcus Mackell

Marcus Mackell is the Director of Mitchell 1's SocialCRM shop marketing product line. He joined the company in 2003 and has been in the automotive social media & retention business for over 17 years.