Consumers today expect instant responses, fast help and the ability to engage over the channels they prefer. When vehicle owners are left waiting on replies from contact us forms or stuck on hold, they simply move on to the next repair shop on their search page. Without instantaneous communication, customers are lost. But, for local repair shops with limited resources, keeping up with consumer demands can be challenging. That’s where AppFueled saw an opportunity to provide shop advisors an easy-to-use platform with built-in automation to better engage customers throughout the entire journey.
Jeremy Glassco, CEO of AppFueled who is known by auto industry experts as “the original mobile app ninja,” saw that web forms and voice calling were not enough for repair shop advisors to maintain and grow their business. “Historically, shops’ main tool for booking appointments is a web form,” said Glassco. “But our surveys show consumers use forms less than 5% of the time. Consumers typically turn to voice calling instead, but over 60% of calls go to voicemail and then consumers move on to other shops.” To help empower repair shops to meet consumer demands in a digital-first world, Jeremy and his team turned to Twilio and the Conversations API.
When vehicle owners need a repair shop, they typically start with a web search. Glassco and team quickly realized that shops needed a way to instantaneously greet customers at their moment of need by opening up communication channels like web chat and text messaging in addition to traditional channels like email from a form fill and voice calling.
They used Twilio’s Conversations API to create live chat widgets that can be deployed on shops’ websites. Once engaged, customers are encouraged to download the app for the best end-to-end experience. After download, they have the flexibility to use in-app chat or opt into SMS simply by providing their phone number. During the interaction, the customer can find available times and book an appointment without the advisor having to get involved. “We have live chat and text messaging now,” said Glassco. “But we are continually innovating to capture need wherever consumers prefer – like Facebook Messenger, Google’s Business Messages, and more. Twilio gives us one API that makes it easy to expand to these channels over time without requiring additional backend development work.”
The AppFueled team doesn’t just stop at the acquisition stage. They’ve built an entire membership experience they call C.E.L.L. (Customer Engagement Loyalty Ladder) that has up to 42 different options for automated engagement based on what the customer chooses. This gives the customer control to decide exactly how they want to interact with the repair shop. This includes pre-booking their next appointment, adding vehicle profiles, connecting their VIN number, and being notified of recalls. And, when the customer needs to re-engage with an advisor at the shop, they can choose to communicate over the channel that is most convenient for them. AppFueled found that customers who engage with at least 7 steps are up to 2x more likely to return to the shop, have a retention rate greater than 90%, add up to 46% more visits each year, and increase their spend at that shop by 15% or more.
We have live chat and text messaging now, but we are continually innovating to capture need wherever consumers prefer – like Facebook Messenger, Google’s Business Messages, and more. Twilio gives us one API that makes it easy to expand to these channels over time without requiring additional backend development work.
Whether they’re walking around the shop or driving a customer home, service advisors are constantly on-the-go. If they are stuck with a system that doesn’t have a mobile engagement solution, they turn to their personal devices which have no collaboration or monitoring capabilities. On any given day, personal phones can be lost or a service advisor can leave, meaning the customer has no way to re-engage with that number.
Rather than having service advisors use their personal devices, AppFueled allows repair shops to give individuals a work number that is tied to the mobile and web application. Users can add or remove coworkers from a customer conversation, tag each other directly in the conversation, and switch between both internal and external communication. “With the Conversations API, we had the ability to customize the entire experience,” said Glassco. “We built omnichannel capabilities where both customers and service advisors have a unified inbox with profile pictures, names and rich features so there is one seamless conversation between everyone involved.”
Part of what powers the experience is the ability to orchestrate across multiple channels. Advisors can communicate through chat and have their message automatically meet consumers in their preferred channel. This gives consumers control to start the conversation wherever they prefer and advisors can maintain one consistent conversation within their application, wherever they are. “With Twilio Conversations, the orchestration logic is taken care of for us,” said Glassco. “Advisors are using chat within their application – either via web or mobile – while customers are using channels like SMS or in-app chat. Either way, it’s one continuous conversation for both parties.”
With the Conversations API, we had the ability to customize the entire experience. We built omnichannel capabilities where both customers and service advisors have a unified inbox with profile pictures, names and rich features so there is one seamless conversation between everyone involved.
Jeremy Glassco and the AppFueled team continue to empower repair shops to capitalize on the digital engagement opportunity without having to dedicate time or resources they don’t have. With text messaging, they continue to invest in automation around the conversational experience with a focus on making it even more compelling for customers to sign up for the repair shop’s membership. And they continue to look at ways to make it easier for potential customers to engage when and where they want with new channels like Facebook Messenger and Google’s Business Messages. With innovation at the core, AppFueled is defining what it takes to deliver delightful repair shop experiences for today's vehicle owners who expect instant, conversational experiences while on-the-go.