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Customer retention is critical to an automotive brand’s success. This is particularly evident during a climate of prolonged economic recovery, in which each new-vehicle sale or automotive service is vital to a dealership’s bottom line.
A 2010 J.D. Power and Associates survey, conducted to measure repeat vehicle purchases within a brand, found that customer retention had remained stable from 2009. In 2010, 16 of the 34 ranked brands improved their customer retention rates from the year prior. Of the remaining brands surveyed, customer retention either dropped or held steady over the same period.
So how can your dealership retain your customers? Service.
After the purchase of a new vehicle at the dealership the responsibility for continued interaction with that customer falls on the service department. Their ability to continue engaging a customer in service—and whether or not these same customers will purchase from your dealership again—will serve as a vital cog in customer retention efforts.
Here’s a few items to keep in mind:
State of Affairs. In order to properly implement a plan for customer retention, the sales and customer service departments need to take stock of what they’re currently achieving and what they’re offering. By simply meeting with your customer service manager or asking your customers for feedback, your customer retention plan can gain traction for success.
Take Control of Offerings. After the sale, it is naturally assumed you’re meeting your customer’s expectations. With that in mind, you can determine the strengths of your retention efforts and any additional opportunities that exist—and pursue them. By utilizing multi-channel marketing (direct mail, email, voice broadcast, etc.) and real-time reporting that speaks to the full customer lifecycle, you can spur improvements to your retention campaigns. In addition to a lifecycle centered marketing program, you should implement relevant seasonal initiatives . Not only can you spur the customer to act upon an offer, you have a “set it and forget it”-type plan that’s virtually effortless to manage.
The Service Sells Itself. It’s almost certain that when a customer receives poor customer service or repair work in an automotive service department, they’re not going to return. By the same token, those who receive exceptional service and repair work are more than likely to return. Simply put, service after the sale is often the leading influencer on customers and whether or not they’ll continue to be a continued consumer.
Can your automotive dealership stand to improve on their customer retention efforts? If so, what areas need improvement?
~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager at DMEautomotive
Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!
Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at email@example.com and check her out on LinkedIn.