Browsing articles tagged with " Customer Loyalty"

You’re Not Going to Create Brand Loyalty with Urgency

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

For many marketers, most consumer messages have long been based on some sort of sense of urgency. Take dealerships, for example. Even when the customer is in the dealership, everything is about the “big sale” and the threat of “buy now or lose this deal.”

The problem is, it is no longer effective. Consumers have become numb to these messages; the simple reason being that they don’t believe them! There’s always a big sale and consumers fully expect that, if they come in next weekend, or a month from now, there will still be a big sale and a good deal to be had. They believe this because they have all the information needed to confirm it through the many Internet resources available to them.

But what does this have to do with customer loyalty?

First, by continuously throwing out these messages, you thoroughly destroy whatever credibility you may have built prior to them coming in. Rightly or wrongly, consumers are already jaded when dealing with car dealerships. This is simply exacerbated if they come in only to be met with high-pressure salespeople extolling how the dealership only wants to earn their business “right now!” Not in the future. Not for life. Not even for another day.

Imagine going on a first date and telling them that tonight is the only chance they get to have a relationship with you. You’d probably get laughed at right before your date gets up and leaves you standing there with a disbelieving look.

Relationships with your dealership are no different. In fact, it’s much harder for a business to build a relationship with a customer than it is on a personal level. And, by beginning the relationship with a message of “this is your one and only chance,” you send a message contrary to the one you should be sending.

Customer loyalty is built on emotion. That’s why we spend our money on brands we love and that make us feel appreciated. Those brands don’t focus on immediacy, or messages of “right now!” Rather, their message is focused on long-term customer relationships by catering to emotions.

Think of the last commercial you saw that brought tears to your eyes. What about that business involved in philanthropic efforts that you care about?  Or, if nothing else, the one that always delivers excellent customer service and fulfills its brand promise? Those are the businesses which build loyalty organically and enjoy a stable base of loyal customers built on a strong foundation.

The next time your dealership is tempted to push a customer into deciding “right now,” consider how that will affect the long-term relationship you have yet to build. If lifetime customer value means anything to you, and you would like to see hundreds of thousands of dollars flow into your dealership from repeat, service and referral business, you may want to reconsider your tactics.

Of course, if you are only interested in the immediate gross profit and don’t care about the future, you may find yourself in an eternal search for the next date. And that may be a lonely journey.


Sometimes It’s the Small Things that Matter Most

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

In building customer loyalty, one of the first things that comes to mind is the customer experience. Many businesses focus on the overall experience and end up missing small things which detract from the customer experience and can even drive people away. Perhaps the bathroom was dirty, or the water cooler was empty. Or it could be something at the dealership which is not quite as obvious – such as emails.  

What? How can an email drive a customer away?  

The obvious way is by bombarding customers with irrelevant e-mails, or, what is now referred to as spam. However, this isn’t a blog about spamming customers.  

Let’s assume your dealership is sending out relevant emails, at appropriate times, via your CRM. Perhaps it’s time for the customer to service their vehicle, or the customer is a new prospect you are reaching out to for the first time. While there is typically a process set up in the CRM for these type of communications, it can be perilous to fail to pay attention to what’s happening in the virtual engagement between your dealership and the customer.   

An article on Business2Community explains that in email communications, simple things can detract from that communication and even turn the customer off. The article shares things that should be avoided in any email communication, as follows:  

  1. Spelling, grammar and language mistakes. 
  2. Emails that contained sensitive information. 
  3. Emails that don’t visually look like a brand’s website.  
  4. Emails that take too long to arrive in the inbox. 
  5. Emails that reach the SPAM box, rather than the inbox. 
  6. Emails that get categorized as a ‘promotion.’ 

Remember that how your email LOOKS is almost as important as what it SAYS. It’s not uncommon to find spelling, grammar and language mistakes in dealership templates. Those mistakes are then going out to every customer targeted for that message, making the dealership appear unprofessional to its customers. In addition, if the email design is completely different to the look and feel of the dealership’s website, that can cause a disconnect in the minds of the customer. It then either ends up ignored completely, or is not at all memorable.  

When communicating with a customer in real-time, time also comes into play. The customer is waiting for an answer to a question – perhaps, “What price can I get,” or, “Is my vehicle ready yet?” The longer it takes to receive an answer, the less pleased they will be with the dealership experience.  

Of course, the final hiccup is one that no dealership wants – namely, communications that go into the consumer’s SPAM mailbox. The instant you hear that customers are receiving your emails in SPAM, a red flag should rise. Actions should immediately be taken with your email provider to resolve this issue, as it could very easily cost revenue via a lost sale. 

It is important to not just sit back and trust that your communication tools are working properly. Regularly inspect to ensure they are. An easy way to keep up with how your communication tools are working is to input yourself into the CRM as a customer. Then let the processes happen just as they would for any customer. When those emails arrive, inspect them for any of the issues mentioned above.   

Don’t just sit back and rely on technology. Small interactional mistakes can create big problems when it comes to retention, loyalty and revenue. When analyzing the overall experience to improve it, make sure you’re not blind to the small things. Each piece of the puzzle needs to be in place before examining the result. Then you can truly know if you have a completed puzzle, or if a piece is out of place. 


You Don’t Have to Be Company 2nd to be Customer 1st

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

While today’s businesses understand the need to provide an excellent customer experience, many don’t truly understand what customer experience means. What’s more, some don’t even realize they already have most of the things needed to provide a truly great customer experience.


According to an article published by Which-50, 61% of marketing leaders stated that their company has a CXO (Chief Experience Officer), or equivalent position. This alone illustrates the importance modern businesses place on customer experience. However, according to the article, many are misguided and tend to focus on crafting the experience, when what they should be focusing on is the customer’s needs and wants. The fact is, you can’t create a great customer experience if you don’t know what experience your customers want.


It’s easy to look at your business operations and decide what experience you think your customers will want. You may, however, be misguided by your knowledge and personal bias. Perhaps you think they want speed, when what they really want is service. Or vice versa. Unless you put the customer first; talk to them, ask them and then truly adopt the what they tell you they want, you’ll never have a great customer experience.


Having a customer-first business environment doesn’t mean that you neglect the company by putting it second. Rather, a great business knows and fosters an attitude that customers and company are equally as important. They know that they work together.


While this is all well and good, your dealership can’t jeopardize its livelihood for the sake of customer experience. If you do, you may have the happiest customers in the world staring at the “Out of Business” sign hanging on the door.


The opposite is just as true in that a dealership completely focused on revenue and the bottom line, with no regard for the customer, will also be forced out of business due to a lack of customers. For any business to thrive and grow, a symbiotic relationship should exist between healthy business revenue and satisfied customers.


How, then, are you supposed to focus on the customer, while also on your bottom line? Through a deep examination of how your dealership can financially support a great customer experience, and then deliver the experience your customers want.


Your dealership does not have to build movie theaters to provide a great customer experience. In fact, most great dealerships don’t have anything of the sort. The focus should be on the experience your customers want. Then analyze the tools you already have, along with affordable solutions you can acquire, that will enhance or improve the customer experience.


By approaching customer experience in this manner, your dealership should be able to create an improved customer experience that is financially sustainable. And that’s the only way for the customer experience to remain consistent.


Holidays are the Perfect Time to Nurture Loyalty

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays. In retail, that typically means an upsurge in business. In the automotive industry, the sales department typically finds consumers buying vehicles for their loved ones. And the service department sees an upsurge in repair orders in preparation for a road trips to visit family over the holidays. In addition, Black Friday is looming and those bottom funnel consumers are waiting to see where they can get the best deal and where they should spend their money. If you have a loyalty program, this can be your most productive time of the year… if done right.  


What do I mean? According to 2017 Colloquy Loyalty Census, there are 3.8 BILLION memberships in retail loyalty programs. While that may sound like a lot (and it is), there has been a slowdown in memberships – 2017 saw a 15% growth rate down from a 26% growth rate in 2015. Why? Well, consumers don’t want to work hard for rewards and want to feel the rewards offered are worthwhile. According to the census, 53% of consumers enjoy loyalty programs that are easy to use, while 39% like great discounts, and 37% like the fact that the program is “easy to understand.” On the other side of the coin, the reason for abandoning a program is that it takes too long to earn points [that led to rewards], according to 57%. 


That being the case, how do you leverage your loyalty program to motivate and entice both new and existing users? During the holiday season, many dealerships like to leverage things such as price and discounted services. Consider leveraging your loyalty program instead. Promotions with points-based offers incentivize customers to use their loyalty membership and then continue to do so. Think of all the other retailers out their leveraging this. There’s nothing like getting a free $10 Kohl’s certificate to motivate you to go into Kohl’s (where you’ll probably spend more money than the $10). Consumers love it. Another thing that works is to offer incentives such as double points, or sell dealership gift cards at a discount as an idea for a gift for friends and family. (for example, sell a $50 gift card for $45).  


The holidays present dealerships with a condensed volume of opportunities – whether that’s from existing customers who are traveling for the holidays or buying vehicles as gifts; or even friends and family members seeking gift ideas. Find ways to utilize your loyalty programs in the manner for which they are intended – to build relationships! 


Of course, any consumer that doesn’t feel they are being rewarded and/or feels like the rewards are simply out of reach, probably won’t be around long (in the loyalty program). So, make sure your reward program is easy to use and understand, that rewards aren’t too hard to reach, and that you utilize offers to cultivate that relationship. Get your customers into the habit of using it. Once the customer knows that the loyalty program is beneficial to them, they will use it and choose you over a competitor. And that’s the exact goal of a loyalty program – a customer relationship. 


Does your Dealership Have a Retention Problem?

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

The automotive industry, in general, has an employee retention problem. A BIG one. And especially big in dealership’s sales departments. Sure, there are exceptions. However, NADA reports that sales turnover in dealerships averages 70 percent. That’s a lot! 


I’m sure that dealerships would rather not have this issue — so why is it happening? Well, an article  I recently read in Forbes shines a really interesting light on this. 


The irony of this article is that it is giving advice to job seekers, not employers. It provides advice about hiring behaviors to beware of when interviewing for positions. As I read this piece, it struck me how familiar some of these behaviors are when it comes to how dealerships hire.  


In my many years in the automotive industry, it has not been uncommon for dealerships to be in a perpetual hiring mode. People leave and the dealership needs new people on staff to cover the floor and assist customers. Nobody wants to lose a sale because a customer gets irritated by having to wait due to lack of assistance. So, what does the dealership do? They hire anybody that walks in the door. Don’t get me wrong, many dealerships require drug testing, etc., for potential hires. But should the biggest concern when hiring be availability, rather than the quality of the potential new hire and how well they might fit into the dealership’s culture? Shouldn’t it be important to establish if the person is motivated, ready to learn and willing to work as a team player to create a positive customer experience? If not, your dealership is probably setting itself up for failure.  


The automotive industry is a demanding one. Hours are long, financial stability can be stressful (especially for commissioned salespeople) and management can change quickly, adding a new element of inconsistency to processes and expectations.  


These working conditions are never really explained to a prospect. Most conversations revolve around earning potential, and a lot of managers only care whether a potential salesperson is aggressive and ambitious… and, most importantly, available… as in; “Can you start tomorrow?”  


In essence; continuing to hire warm bodies to cover the showroom, rather than truly identifying people who will fit in and stay awhile, can be a catalyst for employee defection in sales that continues to occur to this day.  


It doesn’t matter how many interviews you put an applicant through if managers are only concerned with ambition and availability. Because, in the long run, that applicant probably isn’t going to stick around.  


Take the time to truly screen applicants and stop simply hiring warm bodies. My guess is that you will start seeing less turnover.

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