Learn how urgency, susceptibility, and perception influence customer retention.
In the automotive service industry, there is a widely accepted misconception that customers defect due to dissatisfaction with your dealership.
For this reason, most of us rely on our customer satisfaction index (CSI) score to help predict customer retention, believing that if our customers leave happy they’ll come back. But this isn’t always how it works.
Yes, CSI is important — and no doubt an effective measure of the level of engagement a dealership maintains with its customers — but satisfaction is not the only factor that impacts loyalty. At DriveSure, we’ve helped many dealerships with good CSI scores, but who still needed something to boost retention.
This post discusses three important customer retention influencers not related to your CSI — urgency, susceptibility, and perception — and outlines several recommended strategies for overcoming them.
The urgency customers feel toward addressing vehicle maintenance and repairs vary wildly. In some cases, circumstances warrant immediate repair. In others, owner complacency results in long delays before an issue is ever addressed.
Consider general maintenance indicators. These handy dashboard indicators are designed to trigger the customer to perform factory-recommended maintenance immediately. However, dealerships cannot simply rely on satisfied customers to return to them for service as soon as the light comes on.
Unplanned repairs are even more troublesome for customer retention. When there’s an impending need for maintenance — for example, a flat tire, dead battery, or check engine light — vehicle owners often need to find the quickest solution.
In these situations, customers might defect because:
Well-timed and well-crafted marketing messages can lure the most loyal customers away — even if they’re not inherently a price-hopper. For example, when a customer sees a compelling offer for a routine service, they may not think twice about having it done somewhere else “just this once.”
Here are three areas where susceptibility becomes a defection trigger:
Customer perception of the need to service their vehicle at the dealership they bought it from changes the further the customer is from the date of purchase. As this perception changes, common misbeliefs about dealership service centers can cause even satisfied customers to defect.
For example, customers often wrongly believe that dealerships are:
Of course, understanding your CSI is important for establishing the foundation for customer retention. But focusing on CSI alone is not going to address all of the potential defection points for your customers.
To craft a well-rounded strategy for contending customer churn, we recommend:
Additionally, participating in programs like the one offered by DriveSure can help you create a greater sense of urgency, minimize susceptibility, and influence perception. For example, by requiring customers to return for service to renew their benefits you can immediately establish a deadline, which reduces the susceptibility of your customers to the marketing initiatives of aftermarket providers and ultimately changes the perceived long-term value offered by your dealership.
DriveSure makes it easy for dealerships to offer unbeatable vehicle maintenance and bring customers back for service, tires, and unplanned repairs — all without complicated loyalty programs or profit-cutting discounts.
Have you seen otherwise satisfied customers defect for any of these reasons? How are you bringing them back to your business?