Browsing articles from "August, 2017"

Consumer Attention Spans Are… SQUIRREL!

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on Consumer Attention Spans Are… SQUIRREL!

If you haven’t already noticed, human’s attention spans, in general, are decreasing. A deluge of short soundbites, marketing messages and social media has created a society that simply won’t listen… if you talk too long. Do you have a friend who, when they want to tell you a story, you immediately ask them how long it is? If so, I’m sure you understand.

According to a recent article on Search Engine Land, today’s consumers have become so used to receiving relevant information instantaneously that, when the online customer experience doesn’t deliver, they simply leave and don’t do business with the company. For example, the article shared that in July 2016, the average U.S. retail mobile site loaded in 6.9 seconds. Well today, 40 percent of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. Furthermore, 79 percent of shoppers dissatisfied with site performance say they’re less likely to purchase from the same site again. While that may seem harsh, it’s reality — and it’s probably only going to get worse.

For automotive retailers, the current trend is to take more of the buying experience online. This is evident in the start-ups vying to sell and deliver vehicles online direct-to-consumer, as well as in the larger traditional automotive vendors who are rolling out comprehensive ways for customers to complete more of the buying process online.

If the statistics from the Search Engine Land article hold up for the car dealership web experience (and there is no reason to expect that car buyers are any different from any other type of online buyer), then you would be wise to ensure that the customer experience on your website throughout the entire process is both fast and easy. Otherwise you risk losing the sale and any future business from that customer.

Customer loyalty cannot be earned from a customer that never existed. There are plenty of people searching through your dealership websites every day that you will never know existed. Ensuring the DIGITAL customer experience is great is in fact as important as, if not more important than insuring the customer’s physical experience is exceptional.

Your dealership will get more consumers on your digital lot (i.e. website) than in person. Imagine if a customer came onto your lot and was ignored for 30 minutes. That customer experience would probably not work out well for your dealership.

The problem is that the gap between business investments and technology adoption is currently quite significant – especially in our automotive industry. While many businesses believe they “should” adopt new technologies, according to the article, 66 percent of marketers have no plans to do so.

Start analyzing consumer behavior as far as what is working, what is not and what is needed (technology-wise). If you don’t, you risk losing sales and loyal customers who could bring you revenue for years.

In our era of 140-word count tweets, Facebook posts that lean towards shorter videos and brands that thrive on shorter marketing messages, it’s become a challenge for businesses to capture – and keep – the attention of the average consumer. Today’s customers have the attention span of a squirrel. If you don’t cater for the faster, almost instant gratification they demand, your customers will move onto a better experience at the competition.



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

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on Text Messages: Google’s Wake-Up Call to Dealers

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. 


A Successful Rewards Program Should Not Be All About Rewards

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on A Successful Rewards Program Should Not Be All About Rewards

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.


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

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on When It Comes to Customers Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

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.

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