03 Sep 2018
Customer retention is the end game- it’s what all dealerships are looking to nail and this is becoming increasingly hard. Doug Van Sach, AutoLoop’s Vice President, put it perfectly when he said, “the hard truth for dealers is most consumers have redefined what it means to be loyal in the digital age.”
Dealerships now need to be in tune and engaged with customer’s demands online and offline. AutoLoop carried out a study called “Life After Loyalty – Learning to Embrace Customer Engagement” and found that 60% of millennial customers said they were loyal to a brand, even though they shop elsewhere. This is a new definition of loyalty in that customers think that just considering a dealership their ‘go-to’ the majority of the time is enough.
This is not bad news as it means that customers can be easily tempted to increase loyalty with rewards and incentives.
There are so many different loyalty programmes and they give you great opportunity for regular touchpoints and communication with customers, which makes it easier for you to deliver the incentives and experience they want.
Loyalty programmes are usually seen as a way to make customers loyal to your brand. However, by adopting the reverse attitude, dealerships will probably see more retention and uptake on loyalty programmes- Remember the customer is in the driving seat so using loyalty programmes as a way to show your loyalty to your customers (73% of consumers agree!)
Providing loyal customers with incentives and targeted up-selling is going to make them want to stay- it’s not rocket science but still, in some cases, dealerships are missing the obvious.
2019 is going to see an emphasis on dealership branding. Differentiating yourself from other dealerships is going to be key in terms of customer retention. Customers are going to buy into your brand above all- and dealerships get their branding from their aftersales care. This is where your dealership can show its personality, develop relationships and create a strong essence of why they’re unique. As Scott Smith, dealer principal of Automotive Associates of Atlanta touched on, “Dealer branding has been a critical factor in our stores experiencing a 20 to 22 percent bump in fixed absorption rates, across the board. These improvements help us be more aggressive on the retail side.”
Transparency is a big thing for the digital, modern customer and there are a few ways of executing this. For dealerships, having a clear process and multiple points of contact are going to make the customer feel connected, up-to-date and informed. The digital age has made us into slight control freaks, so making sure the customer is always informed, wherever they are is going to be a great reason for them to stay with you.
This point kind of encapsulates the two above- making your customers feel like they are part of a community through communication and personality is going to make them feel included, looked after and ultimately satisfied. With 94% of millennial car buyers gathering information online and 40% of new car purchases over the next 10 years being carried out by millennials, it’s a good idea to reach them where they spend their time. Not just millennials, but all customers are going to appreciate a strong social presence that means you’re always available. This will make you look reliable and why would they leave if you’re always there to help!? (Stats from Deliotte and Ebay Motors Research)
This is just a short list of things that I think dealerships need to consider this year in terms of retention. There’s more to be said from a tech perspective, for example, but that’s for another time!