Since cars began rolling off assembly lines, the auto industry has focused on building sleek, powerful, and safer vehicles. Those factors still hold major appeal, but in a digital age, service departments and auto repair shops are adjusting to a better business model, and that means contactless communications and payments. They are critical to provide enhanced services and real-time updates that create stronger bonds and more loyal consumers.

Text messaging is the most effective communication and payments channel. It’s becoming increasingly popular. Text messaging between customers and repair shops can reduce the time it takes to prepare vehicle status reports, order parts, schedule and cancel appointments, and streamline the final payment process.

The power of the personal touch: Communication via text messaging Text messaging allows auto repair shops to become more efficient. Repair shops that insist on reaching customers by phone are losing valuable time. Studies show that customers answer less than half of all phone calls they receive and only about 15 percent of emails are opened. SMS text messages have an open rate of 99 percent (RedEye), which guarantees a timely reply. Texting increases customer engagement, helps solidify the brand in the customer’s eyes, and reduces no-show appointments. Bottom-line, it’s effective.

Another shift in consumer behavior comes in the form of payments, where consumers are moving away from traditional cash, check or credit card to contactless payments. It’s a much faster, more convenient option as revealed by a study from Mastercard that showed 80 percent of its respondents prefer contactless payment methods.

Paying by text is an example of how quickly and efficiently this form of communications works, allowing businesses to send a payment link (via text) enabling customers to pay at their convenience. The streamlined process allows businesses to receive payment instantly.

Shifting gears to optimal efficiency A customer can simply respond to a text message to begin contactless communications for estimates on repairs, future updates, and scheduling. For a mechanic, it’s frustrating not being able to reach a customer while their car is on the lift. With texting, this frustration is a thing of the past - studies show that, on average, people check their phone 96 times a day and over 90 percent of text messages are read within 90 seconds (Bright Pattern). A quicker reply from a customer means shops can more quickly get the job done, allowing for more customers to come in, which equates to increased revenue.

The number of no-show appointments is also lower due to text message reminders. No-shows affect revenue, regardless of the shop being busy or not, as overhead, rent, and salaries still come into play. Service departments can now send customers text messages to remind them of an appointment, with options to cancel or re-schedule at a more convenient time.

Contactless communications and payments have moved from being a future prospect to a present-day expectation in the auto repair industry. Embracing text messaging for communications and payments not only boosts revenue and customer satisfaction but also streamlines the repair process, offering a compelling reason for businesses to shift gears towards this digital trend.

Read the full story in Vehicle Service Pros here.