Just as consumers prefer to control how they respond to loved ones, friends, and colleagues, their preferences are bleeding into the world of business, and the demand for control is growing.
It began with email, where one could control when they wanted to sit down and respond to a message rather than being forced to have a conversation in real time.
Then texting became popular, as people could send quick responses on the go.
Today, consumers prefer rich media messaging platforms like Facebook messenger, Instagram Direct, and WhatsApp because they control the conversation and have access to rich media tools during the messaging experience. They can message at any time or place from any device.
As customers experience the convenience they provide, these external tools built by social media networks have become integral parts of our lives. As a result, they've started making their way into their preferred buying journey.
The customer-controlled cadence is changing the way businesses communicate. In the past, companies controlled the conversation by dictating when and how they would reach out to customers. But now, customers drive the exchange.
Over the last year, brands in every industry have recognized that they have to act quickly. They’re now acknowledging the importance of customer engagement and delivering a dynamic experience and are internally building or utilizing platforms that support asynchronous messaging.
No longer is there an "ask and wait" mentality when it comes to messaging customers, but rather, a move towards automated conversations that occur on the customer's terms.
What is Asynchronous Messaging?
Asynchronous messaging is a communication pattern in which messages, collateral, and other information is exchanged without needing an immediate response.
Likewise, the sender doesn't need to wait for a reply before continuing. It's a digital space where customers can ask questions and work through the vendor's resources on their own time and speed.
Alternatively, the customer can be notified, similar to how LinkedIn or Facebook does for you with unread messages. When a response is received, the user is emailed or sent a text notification to return and continue their conversation.
These systems differ from synchronous messaging, where both parties must be available simultaneously to communicate. A clear example of synchronous messaging is a phone call or live chat, which requires immediate action and response from the seller.
Customer Support Demands are Evolving
With an asynchronous system, businesses can still have a conversation with customers, but it doesn't need to happen in real time. Platforms like SMS texting, chatbots, and social media message platforms are becoming increasingly popular because they allow customers to contact businesses on their own time and vice-versa.
As marketplaces of all types become crowded and competition arises, customer experience means everything. A recent survey shows that more than three-quarters of respondents (76%) said they would stop doing business with a company after just one bad experience.
As the movement spreads across industries, from healthcare and finance to automotive, asynchronous messaging is becoming a new norm for businesses that want to provide customers with a great experience while also being able to facilitate more complex conversations.
Booming demand for a self-serve experience
Regardless of industry, product, or service, businesses are starting to see the benefits of self-serve platforms.
Even historically offline industries, such as the mortgage industry (Rocket Mortgage) has embraced this type of engagement to help consumers refinance loans.
The fact is that people are no longer calling for help. 81% of consumers say they want self-service options, yet only 15% of consumers expressed a high level of satisfaction with the tools provided to them today.
There's an apparent disconnect. That same study reveals that businesses believe 53% of consumers are very satisfied with their self-service.
Customers want information on their own terms
For any business, it's proven that excellent customer experience and service lead to customer loyalty and brand advocacy. Asynchronous messaging is critical in providing customers with a satisfying self-driven experience - one that's fast, convenient, and available 24/7.
24/7 is a critical piece of this puzzle that sales representatives and Dealership Service Centers can rarely support. Customers demand answers quickly, no matter the time of day. Asynchronous messaging is evolving into the primary option to meet this customer service demand, with 90% of customers prioritizing having an "immediate" response when it comes to a customer service question.
In the automotive industry, for example, dealerships are moving towards self-service systems to improve the sales process - allowing customers to get their questions answered on their own at any time of day by looking up information on their own.
Digital transformation is changing the buyer's demands
The rise of the global pandemic in 2020 brought an entirely new appetite for remote work and services, including sales. Consumers were kept distant from physical dealerships, so they turned to online channels for information and support.
The state of convenience brought about by these changes has led to an acceleration in the asynchronous communication trend.
It's not only changing the way businesses communicate, but it's changed the sales process altogether. In the past, the sales process was linear: businesses would reach out to customers, and customers would decide whether or not to respond.
With digital transformation transpiring globally, the sales process is more of a dynamic interactive experience that takes hours, days, and weeks to transpire. Unfortunately, this is incredibly hard to manage with dealerships existing CRM system and current limited phone, email, and text communication channels.
A self-paced back-and-forth gives customers more control over the sales process and allows them to move at their own pace - feeling more comfortable and less pressured.
A slow-moving industry picking up speeds to meet customer's needs
The automotive industry is one that's been particularly lagging in change, but it's beginning to accelerate its adoption of efficiency-improving technologies.
In the past, the automotive sales process has been synchronous: customers would go into dealerships, and dealers would walk them around the showcase to buy a car on the spot.
Then, in the late 2000s, the car dealership sales process started to move towards asynchronous communication through live chat systems specific to the industry. However, the conversations were still happening in real time.
Now, through the rise of customer-centric solutions like chatbots and online car-buying platforms, the automotive industry is starting to embrace a new, scalable form of communication.
Finally, making buying a car a pleasant experience
First off, buying a car is never an easy task. It's an incredibly stressful decision with a host of variations to consider during the process.
Car shopping requires tons of research, time, and energy, and given the scale of the investment, customers want to be absolutely sure they're making the right decision - and they do not like the pressure of a sales rep who is just trying to make a commission.
These customers are inquisitive and want to be in control. Asynchronous messaging allows them to feel empowered during the car buying process without worrying about a sales rep pushing them into making a purchase they're not ready to make.
Focusing on long-term relationship building
The goal of the asynchronous messaging approach is not to close a sale right away but rather to nurture a long-term relationship. That's challenging to do when an online chat system suddenly ends, or the customer loses Wi-Fi, and the customer must restart from the beginning.
Asynchronous conversations allow customers to move between devices and preserve the same conversation over minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years without the disruption that a live chat endures through the use of a Perma-Link.
It builds relationships over time without needing to close the sale right away. Today, customers want to feel like their vendor is a consultant and friend rather than a salesman, and asynchronous messaging has the power to help transform a dealership sales process to support that.
Enabling customers enables your sales team
Asynchronous messaging significantly improves customer service. As mentioned, sales and customer support teams are often overworked in automotive dealerships, dealing with incoming customers, inquiries, paperwork, and more.
With dozens of customers demanding collateral, pricing information, or asking questions about each automobile, how can one sales or customer service rep provide tailored support to each individual?
With a system that omits a phone call or chat line with one to three people at a time, each sales member can support upwards of thirty customer conversations simultaneously. The individual's efficiency and ability to multitask increase exponentially, making their job much more enjoyable while also delighting their customers.
The goal for any car dealership is to increase customer satisfaction and reduce the number of resources needed to do so. Asynchronous messaging is the right approach to achieve both.
The need to convert more customers with rising costs
As competition arises and more dealerships spend on digital advertising, the number is in the midst of an upswing, expecting another 11.7% rise in ad spend in 2023. It's forcing automotive businesses and car dealerships to seek new ways to seek cost-effective solutions to convert at a lower cost of customer acquisition.
Automotive messaging systems that enable asynchronous conversations are helping them to do just that.
Supporting overworked sales and customer support teams
The customer-centric asynchronous messaging movement is driven by the rise of digital-native consumers and the need for businesses to save time and resources.
Digital-native consumers have grown up using digital technologies and are comfortable using them in all aspects of their lives - including when shopping for a car.
At the same time, businesses are looking for ways to save time and resources. Asynchronous messaging is the medium to automate tasks and free up customer-facing team members to do other things.
Businesses can take some pressure off their sales and customer support teams by automating tasks like scheduling test drives, supplying downloadable material, and sending follow-up information.
Avoiding disruptive channels like live chat, where a rep will have to remain on guard and stop what they’re doing to engage, can keep your sales teams focused on needle-moving tasks.
Keeping sales teams aligned internally
As customers move through the funnel, they need to be followed up on - with no chance of a customer slipping through the cracks due to manual processes and busy sales reps.
Success for a sales organization starts with keeping their reps aligned internally. Sales teams need up-to-date information to streamline this process and ensure that customers are always followed up on in a timely manner - providing them with an exceptional customer experience.
Solutions like QoreAI provide sales teams with a repository that acts as the center of truth for all ongoing customer activity - keeping track of all interactions, material, questions and answers, and more.
Meanwhile, It gives sales teams the power to access information at any given time - supplying transparency across all customer conversations on one dashboard, ensuring that customers always receive a personalized experience.
The self-serve, flexible communication experience is changing the sales game
It's clear Asynchronous messaging supports business growth by engaging customers around the clock with valuable information and freeing up customer-facing team members to do other things.
There's an evident need for car dealerships to reconsider their sales process based on the new digital demands of the customer, and an asynchronous solution can:
Provide an automated, self-serve experience
Promise customers that their questions are answered at their leisure
Support sales teams with the ability to track customer activity
Increase the efficiency of the existing salesforce by 5-6x
Save on the cost of customer acquisition
Ensure no customers are mishandled due to manual processes or busy sales reps
Meet your customer's demands by transforming your dealership sales process, improving conversion rates, and supporting your sales team by reaching out to QoreAI today.