SMS Marketing for Car Hire Companies
Britain’s vehicle hire sector is booming. Having overcome a downturn in the earlier part of the decade, all the indications are that the industry has undergone a quiet revolution. Slow and steady growth over the last few years, coupled with changes in the law in 2015 that made it easier for customers to get better deals on rentals have helped the short-term vehicle rental market contribute an estimated £1.5 billion annually to the UK economy, based on the latest figures available from the BVRLA, the trade body for the vehicle rental and leasing sector.
Although the rental process is fairly straightforward and the vast majority of bookings are made online, SMS Marketing is a great solution to improve communications and enhance the customer experience. Bearing in mind that by nature, the majority of customers will be on the move, SMS Marketing is ideal not just as an additional channel to complement your email strategy, but even as the primary channel for communicating with and updating customers – especially when smartphones allow the majority of customers to click through to your website from their handset.
So how can car rental companies improve their reputation for customer service and increase revenues with SMS Marketing? We look at some of the possibilities on offer.
SMS Booking Confirmations
The default method of confirming car hire bookings for years has been email. Whilst it has been tried and tested and is overall an effective way to ensure customers know that their booking has been successful, it also has its disadvantages. Firstly, the workforce today is more mobile than ever, and not all customers will have the time or opportunity to check their inboxes, let alone print off essential information so they have a copy when it comes to picking up the vehicle.
Mobile phones, on the other hand, are carried by an estimated 97% of the UK’s adult population and are almost always kept close to hand and on the person – making them the perfect place to store essential information for easy access. This means that using SMS Marketing allows you to put the booking details literally into the palm of your customer’s hand. Customer service surely doesn’t get much better than that?
Hands up if you’ve ever booked a hire car, forgotten to read the small print on the confirmation email and turned up only to be delayed because you hadn’t checked what documentation was required or other essential information? We’ve almost all fallen foul of this and it is almost always because we simply scan our emails rather than paying attention to the text.
The problem with email is that because it allows us unlimited space to convey our message, we tend to use it to the extreme. In many cases, it can be hard to separate the customer-specific information from the advertisements. Of course, this is equally true of other industries, not just the car rental sector. Just take a look at the last airline email in your inbox!
SMS Marketing is the perfect alternative. Because you are limited in the number of characters available (160 characters for a single text or 459 if sending a series of connected messages), the onus is on conveying only that information that matters the most. This challenges the sender to be concise and succinct – the reward being that that customer is likely to read the entire content of the message. As a result, the customer will feel better informed and arrive at the depot with documents ready to give them a smoother experience, and the release process will be quicker, meaning cost savings for your company. End result – everyone’s a winner.
One for the road
Another tendency among car rental companies is to provide information such as helpline and breakdown numbers on the hire checklist or even a business card. Such documents frequently become buried amongst other documents the driver has with them, meaning that when vital information is needed the most, it can be hard to find.
Although there is rarely need to call any of these numbers, given the reliability of today’s fleets, things can nonetheless happen or customers may simply have questions about the vehicle, especially if it is unfamiliar – which is quite likely.
A simple ‘One for the road’ message could be sent to the customer with all the essential numbers and even a named contact at the depot if relevant. Not only is the information to hand in the most convenient place, the customer is also relieved of the additional burden of having to input numbers into their keypad should a call become necessary.
Collecting feedback with SMS Marketing
So your customer has returned the vehicle safe and sound and settled their account. It would be natural for the novice to assume that the job is finished at that point. However, the skilled professional today knows that there is one more highly important step required to maintain sales in an ever more competitive space – collecting feedback.
With a 98% open rate accompanied by an exceptionally high response rate, SMS Marketing is the obvious tool for this and has been proven to get far better participation than email – perhaps because it is so simple for your customers to do.
Be sure not to ask too many questions, but focus on those key areas of the experience that allow you to stand out from the competition, and make sure that you have implemented a simple method for the customer to respond. By all means, give them the opportunity to show their flair for creative writing and give you their whole story, but most will prefer a simple ‘Reply with a score from 1 – 5’ approach. Best practice is to add an ‘Anything else you’d like to tell us’ option at the end.
SMS Marketing for Customer Offers
Every customer likes to feel appreciated. In addition, it is well documented that repeat custom is worth far more to businesses overall than new customers, both in terms of spend and cost of acquisition. With this in mind, be sure to use SMS Marketing to keep your customers informed of the latest offers and deals. People like to feel that they are special, so be personal and let them feel that the offers have been specially chosen for them to increase the likelihood of participation. Also, consider using time-bound offers with a relatively short life-span to increase sales.
With a solid SMS Marketing strategy in place, vehicle hire companies have more opportunity than ever before to increase sales, improve customer satisfaction and create a better overall experience with their brand.
To learn more about how the team here at Fastsms can help you to grow your car hire business with our low-cost bulk business SMS packages, give us a call today on 0800 954 5305 or contact us online to chat to a member of our award-winning team.
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