I am regularly surprised by the ease of communication on Facebook  and I am wondering how it changes the way we communicate with one another.

Our daughter Lina, who will turn 19, not only claims that she knows every single one of her 973 facebook friends well, but that she also has made Facebook her main communication tool. Setting up events, reaching out to friends, inviting everybody to the next  high school Volleyball home game etc., facebook is her tool of choice. “Email takes too long and is more about facts,” she says. “If I wanted to exchange facts, I’d text.”

Lina would start facebook conversations with something like: “Tell me something” or “RAWWR” – and still get quite a bit of responses! I found this mind-boggling.

When talking with her about it, it dawned on me that her statements confirmed what we found when looking at car-owner- to-service-advisor communication.

Lina said that people she hangs out with people who know what ‘RAWWR’ means,  and they respond within a few minutes with similar ‘interesting’ statements. Since they have developed rapport * already, they express their feelings in a kind of secret language, and are mostly interested in pinging their friends and exchanging ‘feel-good’ statements, or simply waiting for the other to say something exciting.

Next time your talk to your  Service Advisor or customer, start with “RAWR” and see what happens.

Just kidding.

But what is striking to me is that this underlying rapport facilitates all kinds of conversations. Building trust with each other, being on the same wave length, sharing challenges and joyful moments – these all develop strong bonds. Responsiveness is another key element. You need to be on it in a matter of 10-30 minutes, otherwise your response is yesterday’s news, since it has vanished from the top of  the person’s “wall”.

Just by monitoring service reminder emails and email specials we sent out on our client’s behalf ,we see matching patterns. We have learned (not surprisingly) that high email address collection, along with opening and response rates, all depend significantly on the rapport between the service advisor and car owner. Car owners, who get educated at the counter about why they should leave their email address along with the best actions to keep their vehicle healthy, open emails and respond at much higher rates. In addition to dropping a line at vehicle pick-up about the time, the service reminder email with personalized recommendations amplifies the effectiveness.

As additional counter material, focusing on the concrete value for the car owner helps make the message brief, crisp, and lasting.  Car owners have easy means to let us know that they don’t like to be notified this way. They simply click ‘ unsubscribe ‘ in the email. The ones, which cannot remember to leave the email address with the service advisor might even click the ‘ abuse complaint ‘ link, indicating that they feel their inbox has been intruded.

Responding swiftly to appointment requests or other emails from customers is a recommended practice, as the appointment might be scheduled at another shop after 2-6 hours without response otherwise.

How do your stats look like? How many emails are opened, appointments are scheduled or unsubcribes/abuse complaints are clicked as % of your monthly appointments?

How do the stats on the image to the left look like to you? High or low opening rate? Great or dismal number of appointment requests?

In our experience, sending more emails is not necessarily better. Effective email communication is permission-based, where the better the rapport, the higher the effectiveness.

Just like the facebook friend request or wall post, be it “Rawr”, “O.o.” or anything else you want.

Be there or be triangle! and see you next time here (I stole one of Lina’s closings, which she commented with “Dad, you don’t understand. This is an inside joke”).

Uwe (Oova)

Don’t under maintain or over service your vehicle

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