How Text-to-Chat Solutions Can Help You Sell More Parts Online

parts ecommerce, text to chat

Email and phone calls were once the most convenient support channels, but more and more customers are expecting vendors to be available over text. SMS support makes it easy for users to stay in contact regardless of their location and get a quick response to any questions or concerns.

Text-to-chat solutions are gaining more traction in a wide range of industries, but they’re particularly relevant for auto parts departments that need to differentiate themselves through their customer service. As a seller of commodities, you simply can’t afford to fall behind the competition when it comes to the digital experience. Customers aged 18-34 make up over 55% of total online parts sales and this number will only grow. More notably, U.S. consumers prefer companies that offer messaging as a communication channel, according to a new survey commissioned by Avochato, a leader in two-way business-to-consumer communication. In fact, almost two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents would switch to a company that offered text messaging as a communication channel. This reinforces the need for solutions like text-to-chat. These consumers are more tech savvy than ever before and expect to have a user experience that matches their needs and wants. As for the dealer, accessibility and communication mean higher returns and greater customer satisfaction.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of text-to-chat solutions and how they can help you sell more auto parts online.

How Does Text-to-Chat Work?

Once you set up a text-to-chat system, users will be able to get in touch with your support team through your website and then continue the conversation through text. They’ll simply enter their phone number along with their first message and wait for a reply via SMS. From there, they can follow up at any time as long as they have a cellular connection.

On the other side, incoming messages will appear in a unified location that will be visible for your entire support team. With the full conversation history stored, your team will be able to quickly review each user’s previous interactions and avoid going through the same questions multiple times.

3 Benefits of Text-to-Chat

Convenience

With traditional live chat support systems, customers can only contact you when they have access to your website. Unfortunately, contemporary consumers don’t always have ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes to stay on your site and send messages back and forth with a support agent.

One key advantage of text-to-chat is that a website visitor can start the interaction with an initial message before stepping away and continuing the conversation whenever they have time. While a live conversation is still possible through text-to-chat, users don’t necessarily have to get through all of their questions at once.

This also means that they won’t have to spend time on your website waiting for an agent—they can simply send a message and wait for a response. You can even set up autoresponders to respond to common questions and ask your own follow-up questions.

Efficiency

Text-to-chat will streamline the customer service experience for your audience, but it will also facilitate more efficient support interactions on your end. Typing messages tends to take less time than talking to someone over the phone, and it’s also possible for customer service staff to engage with multiple users at the same time.

With canned messages, customers can get quick answers to basic questions without taking any time away from your support staff. In short, text-to-chat will enable your brand to send more messages to more users without spending more money or increasing the average response time.

Outreach

It’s also worth noting that a visitor’s phone number is typically more valuable than their email address or social media information. In 2021, the vast majority of customers have their phones with them most of the time, and open rates are far higher on SMS than email. 

All things considered, text is one of the most actionable channels when it comes to generating more sales. Text-to-chat solutions will help you engage with more leads, respond to inquiries more efficiently, and keep track of customer histories over time. 

How to Implement Text-to-Chat

You can set up text-to-chat within your existing support practices, but you’ll need to take a few preparatory steps in order to ensure a seamless implementation. In this section, we’ll go over some strategies that can help you roll out your new text-to-chat system as smoothly as possible for your parts department.

Assign Personnel

First, make sure you have staff on hand who are prepared to respond to text inquiries and understand the ins and outs of your text-to-chat service. It might take some time to find the perfect balance between text-to-chat and other aspects of customer support, so don’t worry about getting it right on the first day.

text to chat - parts ecommerce

Set up Business Hours

Your team should be able to respond to questions quickly during business hours, but off hours should be displayed clearly in order to let customers know when to expect a reply. Don’t forget to update this information around holidays and other periods when support availability may be limited—the last thing you want is to keep your audience in the dark.

If a customer messages you outside of business hours, you can set up autoresponders to let them know when they can expect to hear back from you. Feel free to use this template or adjust it as you see fit:

“Hi ((name)), we received your message at [website name] and will get back to you as soon as we’re back online. Our parts professionals are currently away from the computer—busy packaging and shipping out orders! Our online chat customer service hours are [customer service hours]. Thanks!

Create Templates for Common Questions

Canned messages can’t handle every customer service request, but they can take a lot of pressure off your support team by immediately answering simple questions. The more automatic responses you can configure, the more time your staff will have to respond to more complicated inquiries.

Fortunately, text-to-chat solutions generally make it easy to set up automatic messages. These are a few common templates to help you get started with autoresponders:

  • Vehicle Identification Number requests: “Hello [name], can you provide us with your VIN to better assist you? Providing your VIN allows us to check your order and make sure you are getting the correct original part. If you don’t provide the VIN, we can’t confirm fitment and help you get the right part, the first time.”
  • Backorder notifications: “Hello [name], thank you for your inquiry on this part. Unfortunately, according to the manufacturer, this part is no longer available. Please let us know if we can help you with any other parts needs. Thank you.”
  • Order status reminders: “Hello [name], you can check the status of your order by visiting our order status page here and inputting your email and order number: [link to your page]”

Of course, these templates are only meant as inspiration—feel free to tweak them or configure any other automatic responses that you think will help you respond to requests more quickly.

Conclusion

SMS is one of the most effective marketing channels in 2021, and too many brands are falling behind the competition by sticking to conventional support channels like email, phone, and traditional live chat. In fact, more than 40 percent of businesses are using some form of SMS to stay in contact with their customers.

As a commodity vendor, it’s crucial to continually adapt your business practices to the latest consumer trends so you can gain a competitive advantage. In order to evolve and compete, you’ll need to meet your audience where they are and build the experience around their needs. If your parts department isn’t available through text-to-chat, your leads will simply find a competitor that is.