Peter Drucker was once quoted as saying,
“Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.”
This could not be more true than for a dealership.
Two things come to mind when I consider this quote from an auto dealer perspective.
- Online Reputation
- Loyal Revenue-Driving Customers
With regard to online reputation, most people think of this as ratings and reviews on sites such as Google, Yelp, etc. While ratings and reviews are certainly an indicator of customer satisfaction, they are definitely not an indicator of customer loyalty.
What does customer loyalty do for an auto dealership?
According to a study published in January 2012 by DriverSide and Dealer.com, the benefits of customer loyalty for dealers is explained:
Once consumers have made a purchase decision, a powerful secondary cycle referred to as the loyalty loop develops. Consumers who enjoy their product and purchase experience may go on to advocate on behalf of that brand. Some may bond with it, increasing the likelihood that at the time of repurchase, they may return to that brand without considering any others.
More importantly, loyalists can also become advocates, endorsing a dealer or manufacturer on blogs, customer reviews and social media sites, and positively influencing others who are looking to purchase. This consumer-to-consumer advocacy greatly increases the likelihood that new brands will be added to the initial consideration set of others and is a strong influencer in the ultimate purchase decision.
How Do You Create Loyal Customers That Keep Coming Back for More?
While it is no secret that retaining customers is less expensive than acquiring new customers, and we all know how much dealers invest into acquiring new customers, the challenge for auto dealers is how you keep these folks coming back when there are so many other options and distractions for them to take their vehicles elsewhere for service.
Here are three tips for creating loyal customers and keep them coming back for more and more again and again.
1) Monitor and Measure Customer Happiness
Fortunately for auto dealers, monitoring customer ratings and reviews online is not difficult. There are plenty of options out there that give dealers the ability to receive notifications when new reviews are posted about them on the web and provide trending reports to give dealers the ability to track scores and ratings over time and keep their stores accountable. A reputation monitoring service is an important cost-effective technological solution that saves dealers time and money.
2) Nurture Relationships with Existing Customers
For auto dealers, a far more challenging objective is coming up with cost-effective and efficient ways to engage and convert loyal, revenue-driving customers. At 3 Birds Marketing where I am a Regional Sales Director, we call this customer demand marketing.
To create demand we set up a constant stream of data analyses and messaging that identifies potential targets and effectively delivers the right message to them in the right place at the right time. I strongly encourage every dealership and dealer group to explore the capabilities of 3 Birds Marketing to determine the potential ROI benefits of this fully managed turn-key solutions provider.
3) Reward and Incentivize Advocates and Influencers
The third essential element to creating loyal customers and keep them coming back for more is to provide rewards and incentives, especially to your advocates and influencers. For auto dealers this is simple because every car owner wants savings and value, two things a franchise dealer has no issue supplying. All you have to do is get the word out and deliver on your promise.
The real challenge you have in order to accomplish this is delivering a relevant timely message to each individual target at the right time and in the right format. This is where a true solutions partner becomes important.
How Well Does Your Virtual Dealership Reflect Your Actual Dealership?
The great challenge at every dealership is maintaining its virtual dealership with the same integrity as its actual physical dealership. By “virtual” I am not referring merely to your website, but to your entire online existence. This includes blogs, microsites, social media profiles, emails, paid media, videos, etc.
As an example, if you discovered a broken window at your dealership, or any sort of damage or blemish for that matter that would be noticeable to a visiting customer, how would you react? Would you brush it off like it’s nothing or have it the blemish addressed immediately. Of course you would address the issue.
The same goes with your virtual dealership which commands the same care and attention as your actual physical dealership.
Producer and Host of the AutoConverse Future Mobility & Connectivity Podcast, Ryan began working in the automotive industry in 2001, establishing his roots in online vehicle merchandising before expanding into digital marketing and now multi media for Automotive B2B. You can connect with Ryan on LinkedIn.