Aug
22

Text Messages: Google’s Wake-Up Call to Dealers

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

Texting is by far the most popular form of communication for consumers – especially with younger generations. However, because of the many compliancy rules and laws that have to be followed, many dealers are hesitant to adopt text messaging — they simply don’t want to risk it.
 

Consumers prefer to communicate via text because it’s short, to the point and non-intrusive. Have you ever tried to call one of your kids or grandkids only to have them fail to answer, then text you right back asking what you need? Or have your ever received a voicemail, not bothered to listen to it, and simply texted the caller back?
 

Short-form messaging is popular and should be high on your list of priorities to offer your customers as a form of communication. Why? Well, while email marketing has been around for many years, emails go into spam filters, get lost in a stack of unread e-mails, or are simply ignored. If you get an open rate anywhere north of 20 percent, you’re doing a pretty good job. Text messages, on the other hand, typically get read within 3 minutes of receipt, according to the Huffington Post. There is also no spam filter (short of a customer blocking your number, that is.)
 

If that isn’t proof enough for you that consumers want to communicate with businesses via text messages, try this on for size: Google recently implemented a “Message” feature on its Google My Business pages. What does this mean for your dealership?
 

In the past, when consumers searched a business on a mobile device, they were presented with a map with some user-friendly buttons such as directions, click-to-call, etc. But now, for businesses that choose to turn it on, Google will provide consumers with the option to text the business. Once consumers get used to using it, I’ll get usage will skyrocket. If the most popular search engine by far and largest advertising platform believes adding texting capabilities to its platform is what consumers want, this is a pretty big wake-up call for us all.
 

While I love the idea of Google’s Message service, I do see a problem with it. Texts sent via this service go to individual cell phones. Sure, as a dealer you can set up as many cell phones as you want for customers to text to. But there is currently no way I know of for you to memorialize those text conversation in your CRM, other than manually notating it. And, as I am sure you are aware, a customer’s cell phone number is gold when it comes to data, functionality and efficient communication. Lacking this data and conversations in your CRM would be a huge hole. If anyone out there knows of a solution to this I would love to hear about it!
 

My bet is that vendors and OEMs will certainly pay attention to this development by Google, as Google certainly keeps on top on what consumer’s demand. So, keep a look out for a solution soon that efficiently memorializes these text conversations in your CRM – that will be a great addition as far as tracking the consumer’s path to the sale. I strongly believe consumers will soon be using this service (assuming you turn it on and set it up). And, as more and more consumer use this method of communication through Google, if your dealership does not allow this type of functionality, you may well find you are missing prime opportunities which go to competitors which do offer it.
 

Text messaging isn’t going away. As a form of communication it’s only going to get more popular. Flip the “on” switch and be there when they reach out. Your customers will appreciate it and you’ll be able to more efficiently communicate with your customers – a win-win in my opinion. 

Aug
16

A Successful Rewards Program Should Not Be All About Rewards

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

Let’s face it, for every 10 businesses that exist, 9 have some sort of rewards program. While they used to be novel and exciting, customers are now used to them. They may well sign up. But, far too often, customers do so not because they are loyal, but because they happen to already be at that business.
Too many companies use customer loyalty programs as a crutch, thinking if they give their customers something for free, or offer incentives, this will create loyalty. That viewpoint is wrong. A loyalty program is designed to enhance the customer experience and show the customer that you care about them. Often, loyalty programs aren’t as successful as anticipated solely because the customer experience falls far short of any reward the customer could possibly earn. Or the program presents customers with undesirable or irrelevant rewards and makes any that are desirable seemingly impossible to reach.
Well, if it’s not rewards, what actually does create a loyal customer?
An article carried by SmartCompany, gives an interesting example about a fish and chips restaurant that always gave customers an extra serving of fish. As customers got used to it, they started ordering one less than they actually wanted, knowing that the restaurant owner would give them an extra one – the exact amount they wanted. This practice actually had an adverse effect on the business and it ended up losing money while failing to create customer loyalty. Why? Because the reward became… well… not a reward, but an expectation.
To earn loyalty, the first and foremost item on your “to-do” list should be to create a great customer experience. Without a great experience, it doesn’t matter what rewards you offer. According to Chief customer experience officer and strategist of CXA, Cos Luccitti, who is quoted in the SmartCompany article, “Humans are complex, demanding creatures. We like free stuff, but it’s not what bonds us to a brand or business.” He goes on to state that answering the question of “how does the business solve my problem and make my life easier,” is the most important thing.
Loyalty programs have become integrated into our society. You probably belong to several. The fact is that many customers would find it odd for businesses NOT to have one. However, simply offering one, and having one that is fully integrated it into a company culture based on an excellent customer experience, are two completely different things – and guess which one wins?
Rather than trying to leverage your loyalty program to create loyal customers, why not leverage your customer experience first, and then use your loyalty program to reward them? That, is a winning formula.

Aug
8

When It Comes to Customers Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

Almost every salesperson or manager that’s been in the business for a while has a story to tell where someone – perhaps even themselves – prejudged a customer and lost a sale. Perhaps that sale was lost to another salesperson at the dealership, or perhaps the dealership lost the sale altogether. But it has happened and still continues.  

Here are a few examples: 

  1. According to a recent story on Jalopnik, a man went into a Porsche dealership to inquire about some models. The sales reps proceeded to treat him quite rudely, refusing to answer simple questions about a particular high-end model. A little later one sales rep searched the customer online and found a Forbes article about the young man. Of course, by this time, they had laughed at him, refused to answer his questions and he left.  
  2. A couple arrived at an Infiniti dealership in a beat-up Toyota Corolla that had the driver’s side door held closed with baling wire. They were both dressed in ragged clothes that appeared to be dirty. Most of the salespeople immediately scattered, attempting to find something to do other than assist this couple. However, one salesperson chose to ignore their appearance and assisted them. Turns out the couple were very successful farmers and bought two new Q45s that day. When the salesperson asked about the Corolla, the couple said that it had just been sitting on their property and they wanted to get rid of it.  
  3. A gentleman drove up to a high-line dealership in a PT Cruiser. He was dressed in blue jean shorts, a black shirt, and thigh-high boots and had tattoos everywhere. None of the salespeople wanted to assist this customer, but one young sales rep greeted him. The gentleman custom ordered a brand-new vehicle that day and turned out to be the lead guitarist in a popular rock band that has entertained crowds for decades.  

 These are just a few examples I’ve heard about and/or read. The point is that you never know how qualified that person pulling into your lot is until you talk to them. By ignoring them, or treating them poorly based on how they look, you do much more than lose a sale, you damage the reputation of the dealership.   

For example, the first story got picked up by Jalopnik because the young man shared his experience on Facebook and, at the time of this writing, it had 909 reactions, 196 comments and 91 shares. That’s quite an audience that read this story!  I’ll bet that someone who saw the story was considering buying a Porsche and perhaps reconsidered doing business with that dealership. Sadly, the comments are filled with car buyers telling stories about similar experiences that they’ve personally had.  

Treat every customer that walks into your showroom like gold and you will find that not only do you sell more cars, you also hold more gross. Special finance customers who you treat well and assist in financing will refer their friends to your dealership and tell everyone they know. By ceasing to judge people, you bring goodwill and a better customer experience to everyone. Even if they can’t buy a vehicle right then, they will remember you when they can.   

Do you have any stories of similar experiences at a dealership when it comes to pre-judging customers? Share them in the comments.

Jul
25

The State of Customer Loyalty

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

Colloquy just came out with its Annual Loyalty Census Report which informs retailers about top loyalty trends. The data in this report (which you can download free at the link above) is important for retailers to view and understand as it reflects the changing attitudes, desires and effectiveness of loyalty marketing, incentives and programs. In fact, this year had some pretty interesting results. 

  1. While loyalty program membership increased to 3.8 billion consumers, the growth rate (15%) was considerably lower than 2015, when it was more than 10% higher at 26%. Colloquy attributes this decrease to large mergers and acquisitions consolidating some of the larger retailer’s loyalty program memberships. However, consumers are still signing up for and want the benefits these programs bring. 

  1. Retail has by far the largest piece of the loyalty program pie with 1.6 billion members (42%) followed closely by the hospitality industry with 1.1 billion members. 

  1. According to Colloquy, most consumers are driven towards companies because they love the brand, retailer, or service. This is the consumer’s main reason for participating in the loyalty program.  

  1. Over half (53%) of consumers surveyed stated they liked the program due to ease of use. 39% were in it for the discounts and 37% because the program was easy to understand. 

  1.  51% of loyalty program members felt that they could trust the companies with their data, which is a little surprising given the recent high-profile hacks and security issues some major retailers suffered. 

  1. According to 57% of those surveyed, the key holdback to participating in a program, or problem that causes consumers to abandon the program, is that it took too long to earn anything that mattered. 

Take these points to heart and check your dealership as far as how the customer experience you provide impacts participation in your loyalty program. You would be wise to also check with customers if they are happy with the rewards offered and whether the length of time, amount of money spent or other factors are satisfactory to them or not. According to the survey, that’s the largest motivator for, well, not caring about your program.  

The best loyalty programs are designed around ease of use and provide customers with an end-goal of an attractive reward that doesn’t seem impossible to reach. However you set up your loyalty program, keep these two things in mind. Of course, if your customers don’t love your service, your loyalty program is meaningless to them. 

Consumers are enrolled in multiple loyalty programs across the retail sector. Some they use simply when they visit a retailer, and some they will go out of their way to visit because of the rewards, along with the fact that they truly enjoy the service and experience. Those are the types of customers you want to attract and then treasure with your rewards program. Frankly, these customers are why rewards programs have flourished and spread across retail in the first place.  

Find that sweet spot in your business that provides an excellent experience and rewards loyal customer and your loyalty program will catch on fire. 

Jul
18

Don’t Let Digital Data Trump the Human Touch

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

Businesses large and small use data to learn and then make decisions about their customer’s behavior. However, be warned, as decisions based solely on data alone can sometimes not be the best… as was the case with a Denver Broncos season ticket holder.

 

In a LinkedIn article penned by the fan, he told the story of how his family was on a waiting list for 7 years to buy season tickets to the Denver Broncos. When they were finally offered tickets, they were ecstatic. However, just as is the case with most of us, sometimes life intervenes and this fan’s family had a new child and, in that NFL season, could not attend any games.

 

The NFL actually provides an authorized outlet for fans to resell tickets to games they can’t attend and promote this Ticket Exchange pretty heavily. Visit any NFL team’s website and there will be mention of it. The fan sold his family’s tickets for every game on the NFL Ticket Exchange and the Denver Broncos noticed – and literally revoked the family’s right to renew their season tickets. Even though the family appealed, they could not persuade the organization to change its mind. To make matters worse, according to the family, the whole process of revoking their tickets, along with the appeal decision, was all done via automated e-mails.

 

Perhaps this whole scenario would make sense if a person were reselling tickets just to resell them — with no intent to ever attend a game. However, the issue at hand here is that the Broncos are essentially penalizing a person for following their instructions on how to resell tickets – and, in the end, used data to penalize this longtime fan.

 

Data can be a goldmine of information if correctly used. It can improve a company’s policies, processes and customer experience, leading to increased loyalty and retention. Businesses, however, should not rely on data alone to make decisions. There will always be a human factor involved that data just cannot interpret.

 

In this case, there was no way to know that these season ticket holders just had a life event (a baby), or that they intended to resume paying for their tickets and attending games eventually. If the fan’s (author of the article) theory is true, the data from the Ticket Exchange is the only determining factor in the Denver Broncos decision to revoke their season ticket rights. Of course, as you can see, this fan took to social media to tell his story – and is getting plenty of responses, including posts from other fans that have had the same thing happen to them.

 

This data “misinterpretation” problem – or using data without any human interpretation, exists in many industries. In our automotive industry, OEMs make decisions and penalize dealers solely based on data from survey results. There is no pleading or arguing their case. The data is what it is and dealerships can suffer greatly in allocation, bonuses or loss of incentives.

 

The problem goes both ways, however. There are dealers who make decisions NOT to deal with customers based on data and, sometimes, don’t consider the human side of the data. Either way, bad decisions can be made that hurt a business — despite the fact that the INTENT of the business was to use the data to help itself.

 

Hopefully, this fan’s story gets heard by someone in the Denver Broncos organization who is willing to listen, and he receives, at the very least, true consideration for his circumstances from a sympathetic real-life person — not a decision solely based on data collected digitally.

 

Remember, in today’s digital world, the human touch is still incredibly important. Its humans — not data, — that keep businesses… well, in business.







MediaTrac In The News

Archives

  • collapse2017
  • expand2016
  • expand2015
  • expand2014
  • expand2013
  • expand2012
  • expand2011