Browsing articles from "July, 2017"

The State of Customer Loyalty

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on The State of Customer Loyalty

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. 


Don’t Let Digital Data Trump the Human Touch

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on Don’t Let Digital Data Trump the Human Touch

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.


Make a Difference in your Community – Customers Love it! 

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on Make a Difference in your Community – Customers Love it! 

When it comes to community service, car dealers are often the very foundation of their communities. A great example is what the Jim Ellis Automotive Group did in May of this year.

The Atlanta-based group successfully raised $65,000 for first-responder organizations that serve various dealership locations around Atlanta, including the police and fire departments. The money was raised by donating a portion of every new or pre-owned vehicle purchase during the month of May to local first responders.

In total, the $65,000 was split amongst 10 local police and fire departments. In addition, the Jim Ellis Automotive Group catered a lunch for each first-responder department and extended special offers to each organization’s members, including $500 off a vehicle purchase and 15 percent off parts and service through the end of 2017.

Consumers – especially Millennials and Generation Z – increasingly care more about doing business with companies that make a difference in their communities. This event – while certainly a sales event – gave consumers a feeling that they were making a difference by choosing to buy their vehicle from these dealerships.

That doesn’t mean that you should shout from the mountaintops every time you do something good, or issue press releases. However, at times, there isn’t anything wrong with it. You should certainly use discretion on how to share these activities. Simple activities can be shared with the community through social media images posted to the dealership’s Facebook page and other social media properties. Large scale initiatives, like the one the Jim Ellis Automotive Group coordinated, absolutely deserves recognition in their communities. Raising $65,000 in a single month for first-responders is not a small feat and is for such a great cause. These men and women put their lives on the line in their communities regularly and should be appreciated.

Kudos to the Jim Ellis Automotive Group for this event and congratulations for the impressive results. Hopefully, the communities are also aware of the initiative — appreciate it and vote with their wallets by choosing their dealership.


What Happens When Company Culture Breaks Down?

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on What Happens When Company Culture Breaks Down?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly heard about all the chaos that’s been happening at Uber. What began as a single blog post has gained so much momentum that not only is the company under investigation by the government, but the CEO was ousted very ceremoniously. Allegations of sexism, sexual harassment, abuse and just about every bad thing a company could do to their employees started popping out of the woodwork. And all it took was for one employee to finally have the courage to say something.  

Up until the chaos started Uber was pretty adored by its customers. All of these troubles were well hidden and Uber enjoyed massive growth, even threatening an entire industry — taxis — and doing a pretty good job of it. The convenience factor and cost savings were more than sufficient to make consumers choose Uber over any competition. And the ease with which people could earn a living encouraged many workers to join their fleet of drivers.  

However, behind the scenes chaos ensued. As these stories were revealed to the public, all of a sudden consumers started reconsidering their loyalties. This is evident by the growth of Uber’s chief competitor, Lyft, while Uber has slowly been going backwards.  

Company culture is typically viewed as an internal practice. The stronger culture a business has, the more engaged their employees are in helping the company succeed, which leads to higher employee retention. What many businesses don’t realize is that while building a strong company culture is essential to growth and retention, it plays a much larger role in the grand scheme of things: namely brand reputation and customer loyalty.  

Prior to all of the news about Uber, if you conducted a Google search, more than likely you would find positive reviews and news about the company’s innovation, disruption of the transportation industryastronomical growth and the high valuation they’ve enjoyed. Now, however, the news is filled with the exact opposite. There is even one movement working to educate people about who Uber really is and to encourage consumers not to use their service. It even has its own hashtag: #DeleteUber. 

As is unveiling in the public domain with Uber, right before our eyes, weak company culture can turn employees, customers and even the public against a business to the point of creating actual brand detractors (versus advocates). Imagine if a dealership’s whole community rallied to ensure that nobody ever bought or serviced a vehicle with them – ever again. That’s pretty much what’s happening with Uber except on a much larger scale.  

Ensure that your dealership has a strong company culture, including values that are non-negotiable and rigidly enforced. Hire like-minded employees and make sure that any poisonous employees are quickly shown the door. In this way you can protect the only thing that really matters, and that is who you are as an organization.  

Just like you wouldn’t want to do business with someone whose behavior is abhorrent to you, consumers don’t want to do business with a business that misbehaves or doesn’t care about its employees. Don’t find out too late that you have an Uber-like crisis stewing at your dealership. Because, as Uber has illustrated, you may not be able to recover once you do find out.

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