The automotive industry is undergoing a seismic shift in customer engagement and communication. Despite the surge in online leads, dealerships find it difficult to get customers to answer their phone calls. Enter T.E.C.O.B.I.—Text Every Customer or Become Irrelevant. This article uncovers why text messaging is not merely an alternative but a crucial strategy in contemporary lead management.
The Digital Dilemma: Why Customers Prefer Silence
Today’s consumers are digitally savvy. They seek information online, often avoiding direct human interaction in the initial stages of their buying journey. When they submit a lead online, they’re signaling a preference for digital communication. The last thing they want is an unsolicited phone call disrupting their day. Calling customers immediately can actually work against you.
Hard Numbers: The Data-Backed Reality
TECOBI’s real-world data paints a compelling picture:
- AutoTrader: 9 new leads generated, 9 engaged via text.
- Sincro: 25 new leads generated, 22 engaged via text.
- Another Source: 103 new leads generated, 90 engaged via text.
Here, “engagement” is defined as a customer sending two or more text messages. Astonishingly, text messaging has shown to engage over 80% of leads, a figure that phone calls can’t even come close to matching.
The Psychology of Text: A Less Intrusive Approach
In today’s fast-paced world, consumers are increasingly seeking control over how and when they communicate. Text messaging offers a less invasive alternative to phone calls, aligning seamlessly with the modern consumer’s lifestyle. According to a study by Twilio, 9 out of 10 consumers prefer to use messaging to communicate with businesses.
One of the most significant advantages of text messaging is its asynchronous nature. Unlike phone calls, which demand immediate attention, text messages can be read and responded to at the customer’s convenience. This flexibility is highly valued, as indicated by a Forrester Research study, which found that 76% of consumers say valuing their time is the most critical aspect of good customer service.
The ultimate goal of any customer interaction is conversion. Text messaging, by aligning with customer preferences and respecting their time, naturally leads to higher engagement rates. According to TECOBI’s internal data, we’ve seen engagement rates exceed 80% when text messaging is employed, a figure that traditional phone calls can’t match.
The Pitfalls of Phone-First Strategies
In an era where consumers are inundated with calls, emails, and notifications, the immediate phone call following an online lead submission can often be perceived as intrusive. If you were to dial 10 fresh leads right now, the odds are against you; you’d be fortunate if even one person answered.
The Awkwardness of Unsolicited Calls
When someone does pick up, the conversation often starts on the wrong foot. It’s usually awkward and forced, lacking the natural flow and rapport of a customer-initiated interaction. According to a Consumer Reports study, more than 70% of consumers do not like receiving unsolicited calls, even if they have a prior relationship with the brand.
The Risk of Negative First Impressions
First impressions are crucial in any business, but they’re especially vital in auto sales, where the competition is fierce. An unsolicited phone call can not only be ineffective but also detrimental. It risks creating a negative first impression that can be hard to shake off. A study by the Kellogg School of Management found that negative first impressions are often more lasting than positive ones, requiring considerable effort to reverse.
The Opportunity Cost
Every unanswered call is not just a missed opportunity but also a drain on resources. Sales agents spend valuable time dialing numbers and waiting, time that could be better spent engaging with customers who are ready and willing to communicate. According to InsideSales.com, sales reps spend approximately 15% of their time leaving voicemails, with little to no return on investment.
By recognizing the pitfalls of a phone-first strategy, dealerships can better align their lead management practices with consumer preferences, thereby improving both engagement and conversion rates.
TECOBI’s Text-First Philosophy: Building Value Before Dialing
TECOBI’s acronym—Text Every Customer or Become Irrelevant—serves as our guiding principle. Our strategy involves initiating conversations via text messages. This approach not only respects the customer’s initial intent but also allows for the building of rapport and value, setting the stage for a more fruitful phone conversation later.
The Ideal Customer Engagement Workflow
- Initial Contact: As soon as a lead is received, initiate a text message.
- Engagement Phase: Continue the text conversation until the customer is engaged, defined as sending two or more text messages.
- Transition to Call: Once rapport is established and value is built, transition to a phone call. At this stage, the customer is more likely to answer the phone and engage in a meaningful conversation.
By adhering to this workflow, you’re not merely making calls; you’re making calls that are answered, leading to set appointments and, ultimately, sales.
The era of cold calling is waning. In its place rises a new paradigm, championed by TECOBI—Text Every Customer or Become Irrelevant. By adopting a text-first approach, dealerships can dramatically improve lead engagement, setting the stage for more meaningful interactions and higher conversion rates.