Customer retention is critical for the survival of modern auto dealers. To retain customers they have to look beyond just making a sale, and focus on becoming influencers, providing excellent, proactive maintenance, and becoming excellent communicators.
Here are five ways that can help dealerships improve customer retention.
The power of maintenance programmes
Maintenance is a very important factor in customer retention, as it provides you with many opportunities to engage with the customer and exceed their expectations. Offering service plans on new vehicles, and extended service plans on older vehicles are a great ways to win customer loyalty, but these days selling maintenance plans are not enough. Customers expect more from dealerships than ever. Thankfully recent advances in vehicle tracking technology has made it possible for dealers to not only meet customer expectations, but exceed them. Tracking devices like VINchain’s innovative on-board diagnostic device (OBD) provide detailed, real-time information about the condition of a vehicle. Once installed, these OBD devices allow dealerships not only to determine when a vehicle is due for a service, but also identify problems before they happen. This allows for proactive maintenance, rather than reactive repairs. This information also helps to prepare workshops for maintenance, reducing turnaround times to an absolute minimum. All of this gives customers peace of mind and drives loyalty to the dealership.
Communication is key
But predictive maintenance is not the only benefit of OBD devices, it’s also a powerful communication tool. By tracking things like vehicle health and driving behavior, devices like VINchain’s OBD allow dealerships to communicate discounts and special offers that are specific to customers’ individual needs, at the precise time that they want it. It allows more focussed, more accurate marketing that is non-intrusive, as it speaks to the customer directly, increasing customer retention. Additionally, OBD devices lets dealerships give customers detailed feedback on their vehicles whenever they need it, from the moment it leaves the showroom floor.
Honest customer feedback
Customers should be encouraged to provide honest feedback, good or bad, about their experiences with the dealership. An environment must be created to make customers feel at ease to provide feedback, even if it’s negative. This is very important, since criticism can be used to improve the customer experience. It should also be easy for customers to give feedback — ask the customer at the end of calls to rate their experience, make service follow-up calls and emails.
One of the main differentiating advantages a dealership has over other purchase channels is personal relationships. Friendly staff can create a pleasant and welcoming buying environment, however, with the internet it is absolutely critical that your staff is well trained and have in-depth knowledge of the vehicles and aftermarket products they are selling. This will turn your staff into influencers and customers will consider them true experts. The result is that they will very likely to turn to you for advice when they need it, encouraging loyalty.
Focus your efforts
Running a successful dealership is a team effort. Unfortunately there is often little to no communication between departments, and they can end up focussing on their own goals instead of those of the dealership as a whole. This can lead to unnecessary tension that can have a negative impact on the customer experience. It is thus important to create awareness among departments of how they impact each other, and how working together can help improve the customer experience, and foster customer loyalty.
Since returning customers help to create an ongoing, long term revenue stream for the dealership it makes retaining existing customers critical to a dealership’s survival. Technological advances like OBD devices make it easier than ever to retain the most valuable customers.