Customer Retention : Don’t Let Them Go

Customer Retention - Don't Let Them Go
David Sharma is the founder of Dealer InLine, a company that provides full service online development and management for automotive dealerships by creating and implementing innovative online approaches that align with dealerships' brand, goals methods and targeted strategies. The company delivers the most current and effective methods to enhance all avenues in which a dealer engages consumers online and in-store.

After the sale is made, the customer you’ve worked so hard to earn is yours to lose. Here’s what you can do to build customer loyalty for life.

Our previous articles addressed how dealers can improve their communication with potential customers, and then sell to and service those customers, with both digital and in-store improvements.

In this article, let’s assume that a customer has made a purchase and the objective is now to keep this customer engaged and willing to do business going forward. This can be in the form of a post-purchase experience that would begin with receiving their vehicle.

The first interaction after a purchase is the delivery of their vehicle. This should be a positive experience for both staff and the customer—they’re getting their new car! Whether this is handled by a delivery coordinator or a product advisor, ensure you have consistency on what the experience entails.

From the presentation of their shiny new car to their driving it off the lot, there are many opportunities to explain how your facility can service their needs, hopefully forever. A few best practices during the delivery process are:

Finalize paperwork explaining important dates and future options;

Review the vehicle and the technology with which it is equipped;

Outline what they can expect in the future based on recommended services and emergency situations, contact points;

Take the opportunity to request that the customer share their positive experience, through an online review, video testimonial and/or referral;

Explain the manufacturer survey they will receive.

A coordinated delivery can begin to solidify a long relationship, as well as allow them to broadcast their positive experience in ways that will benefit your business online.

Loyalty programs

An internal points/rewards program encourages your customer to return to service their vehicle, as well as eventually accumulate enough points to motivate them to make their next purchase with you.

Many effective automotive points programs have both digital and instore aspects. Most recently, we’ve seen more proactive programs include a community aspect where local businesses work together to help generate business for each other; for example, the program offered by autoawards.com.

To ensure a continued effort, these programs need to have touch points for both customers and staff to ensure redemption and engagement from both. This can start during the delivery process, as staff explain to the customer how this program saves them money and ensures their investment is thoroughly looked after.

Customer contact

Electronic avenues are effective ways to communicate with customers, such as a monthly newsletter, email bulletin, after sales/service survey, service interval bulletin or a simple birthday greeting. There are many ways to ensure that these are streamlined and consistent.

Electronic communications cannot be mentioned without mentioning CRM or Customer Retention/ Relationship Management software, whether overseen internally or by a third-party vendor.

A great CRM platform communicates your business’s message in such a way that the customer believes it’s coming from a representative individually. It should be robust and coordinated with other systems to get the data it needs, as well as make it easy for staff to input and extract information from your customers’ profiles. It should help your customer feel like you know them and their vehicle personally.

E-blasts and newsletters can effectively inform customers about updates to your brand and your dealership, offer tips and tricks to help them make the right decisions for their vehicle, offer specials and discounts and, in some cases, provide articles to engage customers who aren’t ready to buy or return for service just yet

Strategic targeting

Dealers can improve upon their processes by strategically sorting their customer database and targeting specific service intervals, to offer incentives that encourage customers to come in for service based on their vehicles’ needs. A specialized consultant can help strategize and set up an effective campaign that helps you offer red carpet after-sales treatment. They can also help make sense of modern buzzwords like “data mining” and “CASL,” which impact your digital strategy. (The former is a process by which computers analyze a wealth of data from various sources and turn it into information you can use; the latter is Canada’s anti-spam law, which addresses consumer consent and your compliance, and is one of the toughest in the world.)

Dealing with disappointment

The final step to ensuring the five star treatment of your customers is a resolution protocol. How do customers communicate any issues they may have? Is it clear on your website, handled within social messaging or outlined in all internal communications? Do you respond promptly when customers do express concerns? You need to empower the right employee to properly address issues internally, and then respond in an effective way.

You make the required efforts and take the necessary steps to sell your products to consumers; you need to keep doing so even after the sale to ensure yourself a customer for life. Make proactive after-sales efforts to supply information, open lines of communication, and offer incentives that will make them want to do business with you over and over again.

Ultimately, it helps ensure the best kind of customer—a satisfied one.

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