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New study reveals instant messaging services thrive during pandemic

By autotech-nic on November 20, 2020

•   96% of automotive businesses have introduced new ways of communicating with their customers because of the pandemic

•  43% of automotive businesses have introduced online booking services as a result of Covid-19

•  83% of automotive business owners are optimistic about the success of their business in 2021

Yell Business has released new research into how the pandemic is changing the way small businesses and consumers communicate. The new study reveals the scale of the challenge business owners have faced in recent months with three quarters (76%) of Small and Medium Enterprises introducing a new service as a result of Covid-19. 

The automotive industry was found to be one of the most adaptable sectors in the report, with 98% of automotive businesses surveyed introducing a new service:

•             43% started taking online bookings

•             42% started doing online video consultations

•             37% started home deliveries/visits

•             35% online video tutorials

•             34% online video events.

Half of all automotive businesses who introduced a new service said it was crucial for them to be able to survive the pandemic, with 83% stating they plan on continuing the service post Covid-19.

Who’s getting the message?

The research also identified how the global pandemic has accelerated changes in how businesses communicate with their customers. 96% of automotive businesses have introduced new ways of communicating in 2020. 34% have started emailing customers, 27% have started using WhatsApp, 26% have started calling customers and 25% have started texting customers. A real surge in the use of other instant messaging services was highlighted, with 21% of automotive businesses using Twitter, 20% of businesses started using Facebook Messenger to communicate with customers and 19% had started using Instagram.

Whilst a phone call and email are still ingrained as the most popular communication methods for automotive businesses and consumers alike, when it came to increasing sales during the pandemic, paid ads on Facebook were found to be the most effective, with 33% of businesses stating they had seen an uplift in sales from using them. Instagram direct messaging was found to be the most effective tool for increasing website traffic.

Getting the message in an instant 

Instant messaging tools such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and other social messaging platforms were found to be vital communication tools for automotive businesses. Nearly three quarters (73%) of businesses surveyed said that instant messaging is key for business success post Covid-19, whilst 42% stated they had seen an uplift in enquiries thanks to using instant messaging services during the pandemic. 41% said that they had seen an increase in customer satisfaction from using the service and 39% saw an increase in sales. 

Choosing the correct channel to communicate with customers was found to have far reaching benefits for automotive businesses too. Yell’s research revealed that over a third (36%) of consumers would be more likely to buy from a business that communicated with them on their preferred channel. 28% of consumers would be more likely to recommend the business to a friend and 24% would be more likely to spend more with that business. Conversely, if an SME communicated with a customer on the wrong channel, 37% of consumers wouldn’t use that business again and 18% would even leave a bad review for the business.  

Optimism in the face of adversity

Despite the challenges brought on by Covid-19, automotive businesses remain positive for the future. 83% of business owners state that they are optimistic about the success of their business in 2021 and, on average, 75% said they were more prepared to deal with another lockdown.

Claire Miles, Chief Executive Officer of Yell, commented: “The last six months have been incredibly tough for the automotive industry but it’s heartening to see that the majority of the sector remains optimistic in the face of adversity. Our diverse local businesses are the cornerstones of our community, which is why it’s crucial that now, more than ever, Yell continues to champion small businesses and provide the digital tools and insights needed for them to thrive.

“Our research highlights not only the sheer adaptability of businesses but also their ability to find the right way to communicate change to their existing and potential customers. It’s clear that during these uncertain times, instant messaging services have been a real lifeline to automotive businesses who have had to adapt and adjust their models quickly.”



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