When it comes to customer retention in the automotives industry, what is the right strategy? Is it about great customer service? Should it involve tailored and data-driven automotive direct mail campaigns? Message consistency? Engagement?
Of course, the answer is ’all of the above’.
But, above all else, a dealership’s customer retention strategy should emanate from a better understanding of its customers. What do customers want? What do they need? What do they expect?
How do you find all of these things out? You do it by creating, maintaining and continually building a customer database.
The more you know about each, the more you can do the work of keeping them. More often than not, your longest-standing customers are the ones you have interacted with effectively, consistently and who value the mutually beneficial relationship.
So, how do you start filling in the blanks and learn more about the customers you want to keep in the fold? You can enact a data-mining directive with all customer service personnel – from sales through service – and make it easy for them to engage with customers by asking them questions at various levels. Have your employees take notes to build stronger customer profiles. This can be done via more social and informal interactions or via online or in-store surveys.
What do these customers like about your dealership? What do they like about your brand? What messages in your automotive direct mail marketing or other marketing modalities most attracted them to your store?
And, what about some of the customers you might have lost? These are important pieces of data to attempt to collect as well. Consider creating a survey that targets these customers – paying closest attention to the customers who identify unsatisfying experiences with your dealership. What was it that turned them off? How can you work to improve this, not only for them, but for all future customers?
Look to the “trigger points” as well. Do customers initiate sales interactions when they have experiences or are anticipating a career milestone, a move, a family expansion, a home purchase, and on and on? Are customers at certain stages in their lives more likely to vie for a certain type of vehicle over another? Which of your customers are at these stages and how can you use the data you have as a means of more effectively targeting them?
For example, if a prospective customer has recently purchased a large family home, send them an automotive direct mail piece welcoming them to the neighborhood and inviting them to come visit your safe and reliable vehicle fleet. If a longstanding customer has recently retired and is nearing the end of a lease on a minivan, perhaps a call or email is in order that points them to your exhilarating lineup of performance vehicles.
The bottom line when it comes to customer retention: meeting their needs. Collect data and act on it, particularly during transitional moments in customers’ lives, and communicate your ability to help them meet their needs during these critical moments. Luckily for marketers, information on what it will take to make individual customers happy is more available than ever before.