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Written policy for texting customer from personal phone

Discussion in 'Websites, SEO, SEM, Display, Social, Marketing' started by Bill Simmons, Nov 16, 2015.

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  1. Bill Simmons

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    Bumping this thread to ask a question.

    Do any of the dealers here have a written policy that your salespeople sign regarding texting from their personal cell phones?

    Does the policy alert them that they may be liable to participate in any fines the dealership may receive as a result of their actions?

    Like many here, our CRM has a texting option as well as those that our chat providers have. Even with those tools, I still see salespeople in our stores texting customers without and opt-in from their cell phones. Our managers in some of these stores have their heads in the sands that "it'll never happen to us" when I chat about the risks of allowing it. All it takes is one customer to find it objectionable and the trouble could start. If you do have a policy and do not want to share it publicly, please feel free to PM me here. Thanks in advance for any feedback.
     
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  3. ryan.gerardi

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    This is a serious concern. Not only are there major legal risks, but the dealer also loses out on the data within the exchanges.
     
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  4. Alex Snyder

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    The texting from a personal cell phone is a little grey at the moment, as I understand it. The extremely cautious would say DON'T DO IT, but that's what they always say. This is definitely something each dealership should explore with a lawyer for every state you're doing business in. There are national laws along with the state's individual legislation.

    In our researching the best avenue to CYA a texting feature we released a while ago I heard a lot of different takes. We were more interested in the opt-in and continued communication through a dealer-purchased software with his customers but conversations always meandered into the realm of "well, the sales agents are just texting people from their personal phones anyway making lawsuits difficult to point fingers in."

    I think each dealer needs a policy for CYA purposes, but the reality of things is customers want texts. They don't want solicitations and can really come after you if you abuse this medium.

    I would advise talking to your lawyer about the realities of being able to control whether one of your employees ever texts a customer vs. what it legally means if you EVER assist an employee in paying his/her cell phone charges (implying that you financially enabled that employee's texting practices). To think you'll stop your commission-hungry staff from texting with customers without an opt-in/out clause is a pipe dream. So educate yourself on the penalties and purchase a text-enabling service, that you can control, so if your day in court ever comes up you can say that you provided the tools necessary to stay in the boundaries of the laws, but this one employee took it upon himself to use his personal equipment. If you have a policy then you can manage that employee appropriately before that court date to further CYA.
     
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  5. Bill Simmons

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    Thank you @Alex Snyder@Alex Snyder Great points and appreciate the feedback.
     
  6. Jeff Kershner

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    Sound advise Alex.

    You're right, you'll never grt in the way of a hungry sales person and expect them to NOT use a medium that will garner them an effective line of communication with the customer that ultimately results in a sale. Not going to happen.

    I would also encourage educating your staff on the topic. But be careful with the message within the education. You wouldn't want it coming across as if you're encouraging your staff to text from their personal devices but while educating and training on your in-house solution you could teach the do's and don't of using the channel no matter what device or service is being used.
     
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  7. Jeff Kershner

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    @Ryan Gerardi@Ryan Gerardi - not to take the conversation in a different direction, but I'm curious to what kind of (executable data) would a dealer be missing out on?
     
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  8. bzweifel

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    I would lose respect for a manager, or company, who told me that I was not allowed to use my phone to text customers. It's as simple as that.

    I understand you have to cover your ass -- write whatever you want in the company handbook, that's completely understandable. But I'd strongly advise against actually enforcing it by verbally telling an above average salesmen they aren't allowed to text customers as if you mean it.
     
  9. Pero Krpan

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    Texting form a personal phone one on one is ok and legal although it is not measurable and/or manageable. Dealer should use texting platforms with a clear opt-in (easy to do) from customers so they can view and manage what was said at any given time with a texting date/time stamp in history folder. Since the rules are not as easy to read and are complicated, we can provide any of you interested with a dealer specific white paper. Let me know. Cheers.
     
  10. G_Harkin

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    Guys - I think the concerns from the dealership perspective are mainly from liability, fines, etc. To some extent it's about losing control of the conversation - not having record of it in the CRM, etc.

    However, the CAN-SPAM Act is designed to prohibit MASS texting, emailing, or other electronic communications - usually by autodialers or other software driven means as a form of marketing from businesses to consumers. It specifically excludes 'transactional' or 'relationship' messages.

    In most cases, a salesperson would be texting a sold customer (relationship) - or prospect (transactional) with vehicle info, follow up, or other generally accepted sales functions - not trying to blast out a text to his entire customer list. If it's one on one communication, there is no liability for the employee or dealership.

    Here's what the FTC has to say on their website:

    Q. How do I know if the CAN-SPAM Act covers email my business is sending?
    A. What matters is the “primary purpose” of the message. To determine the primary purpose, remember that an email can contain three different types of information:
    • Commercial content – which advertises or promotes a commercial product or service, including content on a website operated for a commercial purpose;
    • Transactional or relationship content – which facilitates an already agreed-upon transaction or updates a customer about an ongoing transaction; and
    • Other content – which is neither commercial nor transactional or relationship.
    If the message contains only commercial content, its primary purpose is commercial and it must comply with the requirements of CAM-SPAM. If it contains only transactional or relationship content, its primary purpose is transactional or relationship. In that case, it may not contain false or misleading routing information, but is otherwise exempt from most provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act.

    Here's a few links:

    https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business

    http://www.bulksms.com/resources/re...-marketing-using-sms-messaging-in-the-usa.htm

    Hope this helps!

    G.
     
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  11. Pero Krpan

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    Gary, you are absolutely correct regarding one on one texting. The challenge is managing who, what and when someone did say something. Also, having personal cell numbers can create a lot of trouble in the future...salesman quits and continue to text customers, text something inappropriate etc. By having a cloud based texting tool that could be used on tablets, cell phones and/or desktops with date/time and users info on it will prevent any of those issues and it will help manage your leads, CSI etc. Every manager should know how many customers are opted in and who is saying what...we are doing it for our phone calls and emails, why not have it for the most used way of communicating today? Text is the way to increase your leads, CSI and retention.
     

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