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Jeff Giere

Jeff Giere Strategy Analyst

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It’s All About Timing: Effective Service Customer Communication

Notifying customers when they are due for service is an obvious—yet crucial—part of any dealer’s marketing strategy. Unfortunately, not all notifications get the same results. Many well-intentioned efforts are too little, too late, and don’t have a solid strategy. And breaking through to consumers when they are due for scheduled maintenance is extremely difficult, so sending a one-time email or mail blast can prove ineffective for the dealer whose goal is to maximize profit and drive customer retention.

However, retailers can reduce the risk of defections to an aftermarket shop by starting a strategic dialogue with these owners. Which means engaging them early in the ownership cycle, capturing them before they make a decision on where to service their vehicle. AutoLoop recently analyzed the behavior of consumers who drove a non-premium vehicle that was due for maintenance every 6 months (or 6,000 miles) and found that 37% of consumers who returned for a follow-up service visit showed up 2-3 months before their recommended due date. Dealers who wait to contact the vehicle owners until they’re actually due for service may find that a significant portion of their customer base has already decided where to service—and it could potentially be with a competitor.  

Additionally, an AutoLoop survey of over 1,000 auto consumers revealed that 26% of dealership customers are not confident in their knowledge of their vehicle manufacturer’s recommended service schedule. And considering the large amount of marketing messages most people receive regularly from retailers of every kind, dealers who rely solely on a one-and-done service reminder approach have a much lower chance of successfully persuading their customers to come in, let alone bringing them up to speed on manufacturer recommendations.

With these statistics in mind, savvy dealers will utilize a high-engagement touchpoint strategy to not only raise customer awareness, but also educate consumers before they make a decision on their vehicle’s service. By reaching out to vehicle owners with a targeted message early and often, retailers can lock in loyal customers while simultaneously creating top-of-mind awareness with less loyal customers who may be considering a competitor. And follow-up reminders prior to and immediately after the service due date provide even more opportunities for dealers to engage customers and lower the risk of defection.  

Dealers should also implement an omni-channel strategy to connect with their customer base since individual communication preferences can vary significantly. Using this approach allows dealers to reach more customers despite potential gaps in customer profiles such as missing email info or outdated mailing addresses. In addition, an omni-channel strategy will accommodate customer preference and the different mode(s) of messaging to which the recipients are accustomed.  

Leading-edge marketers attest to the benefits of an increased touchpoint strategy over a single blast approach, which is commonly used by traditional marketing companies whose priority is selling mail rather than retaining customers. An omni-channel approach guarantees that dealers will reach significantly more of their base and create a seamless experience for every type of customer. By pairing these two proven effective strategies, retailers can make sure they start a dialogue with customers before their competitors while simultaneously delivering an efficient, cohesive, and consistent message.

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