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Jump in stamp prices should cement dealer switch to electronic communication

The rise in price of a first class stamp from 46 pence to 60 means all dealers should complete a switch to newer forms of customer communication, says dealer management software specialist Pinewood

The company points out that a gradual shift from to e-mail and text as the prime method of proactive customer contact, especially for marketing purposes, has been underway for more than a decade but that many dealers still use traditional postal communication.

Neville Briggs, managing director, explained that the stamp price increase, together with the associated costs of production, could have potentially make post redundant for almost all dealer to customer communications.

He explained: “Many dealers have maintained traditional mail alongside newer forms of communication for a number of reasons.  For a start, systems have needed to change to encourage e-mail address capture while customers needed a reason to volunteer their e-mail addresses without fear of simply being bombarded with mailshots. However, dealers should now have compiled solid databases.”

Briggs said that the advantages of e-mail and text communications were not just limited to low cost but included a high level of responsiveness and the ability to automate.

He said: “With e-mail and text, you can interrogate your customer database and communicate a new and timely marketing statement to them extremely quickly.

“For example, this week, you could search for all your convertible owners and offer them a summer vehicle, potentially getting them into the dealership at a time when utilisation of your workshops may be low.

“This level of flexibility is practicality impossible to achieve with traditional post, where simply printing and posting can take several days. The latest stamp price increase only underlines this lack of responsiveness.”

Briggs added that e-mail service booking reminder notifications were a standard feature of Pinewood’s Pinnacle DMS. Dealers had found that customers appreciated the convenience of such features.

He said: “Customers see the value of e-mail service booking reminders and often now expect to receive them from their dealers in exactly the same way as they would when booking an airline ticket.”

Briggs also reminded dealers that they need to become tuned into future communication channels because their next generation of customers was likely to be more at home with Facebook and Twitter.

He said “We have already moved forwards in this direction by providing all of our customers with a free Facebook plug in.

“However, this thinking is just the beginning. Dealer CRM systems need to become the hub to instigate and support the means of communication that the customer prefers rather than just acting as a method of recording contact.”

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