Browsing articles tagged with " Customer Loyalty"
Feb
13

Winning Customer Loyalty Through Convenience

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

Customer loyalty is increasingly difficult to earn. Consumers simply aren’t as loyal to a specific store as they were in the past.

Years ago, perhaps you’d visit that local hardware store owned by Bill and Martha. Each time you visited they welcomed you by name and offered their assistance. In our current age of mega-stores, the customer experience is not the same. There’s no longer a Bill and Martha waiting to greet you. Nor, in most cases, do the staff know your name.

So, these days, the mega-stores and Internet retailers create and maintain customers through convenience. Just this past week, Amazon announced 2-hour delivery from Wholefoods for Prime customers. Most grocery stores already offer customers the ability to order online. The customer then simply shows up at the store where an associate loads the items into their vehicle. Amazon says… meh… we’ll bring them to you!”

Banks now offer consumers the ability to deposit checks via a mobile app. Starbucks allows you to order your coffee in advance through their app. You can simply pick it up when you arrive, skipping to the front of the line.

The point is that retailers are conditioning consumers to expect convenience and, if the rest of the experience is good, consumers flock to use these services and continue to return.

How convenient is your dealership?

In the future, convenience will be the top priority for customer loyalty and retention. Our society has developed to a point where consumers are no longer Wowed by the convenient services offered by major retailers; they expect and demand them.

The more convenient your dealership makes all customer interactions, the more likely those customers will continue to come back. With the future of retail sales predicted to slow, and service revenue predicted to be increasingly important, now is the time to investigate how to streamline every process and touchpoint for your customers.

However, keep in mind that you can be convenient and still lose customers if the overall experience is poor. For example, what if you went online, ordered your groceries, drove to the store, had the associate load up your vehicle then drove home. So far so good, right?

Well, what if when you got home you discovered some of the items you ordered and paid for were missing. Now what? You are forced to return to the store to find a manager and get those items. At this point, you’ve made two trips to the store and probably spent more time than if you just went to the store and shopped there, rather than ordering online. Suddenly, the convenience factor disappears. You may still like the idea of buying your groceries online, but you might just be tempted to try out a different grocery store next time.

Time is money and it’s increasingly factored into the consumer’s transactional decisions. Frequently, consumers choose to spend a little more money for a more convenient experience. It’s no longer all about “lowest price,” but more about “most convenient.”

Make sure that your dealership’s processes are designed to create the most convenient customer experience consistently and your customers will stay around much longer and will not tend to be swayed by coupons or low prices elsewhere.

Jan
16

Communication Makes Everything Easier

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on Communication Makes Everything Easier

In our fast-paced society, some of the things done just a short time ago to impress and retain customers no longer work. Today, business owners can’t always keep on top of the latest and greatest ways to keep their customers loyal.  However, there is one thing that hasn’t changed much over the years – personal interaction without expecting immediate returns: a friendship of sorts.

Communication has always been one of the keys to long-term customer satisfaction.  Without any motive to sell your services, or set up another appointment, something as simple as a follow-up phone call can have a tremendous effect on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Even if you fail to reach the customer, leaving a brief message could still make them feel appreciated.

Simply pick up the phone and talk to your customers. This could score more business for you in the future.  Who should be making these calls?  Ideally, the person who will be interacting with the customer in the future. While that may not always be possible, this personalized service and attention to each customer is what will impress upon them that you consider them important, value their business and care about them — even when they aren’t actively at your dealership buying a vehicle or getting it serviced.

Imagine “Jack”, one of your service advisors.  On a slow day, he takes a list of customers he previously assisted.  Away from distractions, he picks up the phone and spends just a of couple minutes on each call. About an hour later, he may have touched twenty customers, and somewhere in the mix, and without Jack’s prompting, a customer mentions that they want to schedule their next service visit.  Without even trying, Jack has new business lined up for your dealership. A little time spent cultivating his customer base today could yield significant business in the future, both from these customers and any they refer to the dealership by being happy, satisfied customers.

If you have the resources, and your employees value customer relationships, have them take a bit of time to pick up the phone and bring a smile to your customers’ faces. It’s not so much what is said on the phone, it’s simply being remembered.

It’s the personal thought that counts and it’s that personalized attention you bring to customers that will keep them coming back.

Dec
19

The Allure of Cross-Monetization & Evolving Loyalty Rewards

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on The Allure of Cross-Monetization & Evolving Loyalty Rewards

Today, consumers have grown used to loyalty programs and they have become the norm. So, to keep their customers’ interest, businesses have been forced to become more innovative and creative with their rewards. In fact, experiential rewards which transcend simple discounts or free services are very much on the rise.

As loyalty programs seek to further entice members to focus on gaining points towards rewards these members desire, a new trend is developing … and the interesting part is that those rewards are products and services at other businesses!

While this may seem counterproductive to the foundational goal of a loyalty program – keeping customers loyal to your product — it’s quite clever. It’s also not that new, it’s just expanded beyond magazine subscriptions and such. Now, many global brands have teamed up with the retail behemoth Amazon, allowing customers to use loyalty program points to purchase items.

Two large brands I know off recently partnered with Amazon: Hilton Honors and American Express. Both have strong loyal customer bases. Hilton loyalists tend to stay at Hilton hotels exclusively, so they can earn points – like frequent fliers — who tend to choose a single airline. Points are more valuable – and rewards easier to earn – when they arent spread thin across many retailers.

Why then, would Hilton and American Express choose to partner with Amazon, allowing customers to utilize their earned loyalty points as currency on the retail giants site?

Because Amazon has EVERYTHING. Think about it. In the past, a customer with a bunch of Hilton points could only look forward to someday utilizing those points for a future hotel stay. And, customers with the most points are mainly business travelers. Their companies pay for travel, which reduces enticing rewards to just personal vacations.

Businesses have the challenge of keeping rewards fresh, interesting and desirable to their customers. By partnering with Amazon, allowing members to utilize points on the site, they literally transform available loyalty rewards into anything a customer desires! And, the biggest benefit of this is that the loyalty rewards offered will always be attractive to the program’s members!

While some members may choose to use their points towards Amazon purchases, others will continue to use them in the more traditional way (such as towards future hotel stays in the Hilton).

Either way, the consumer is motivated to continue their loyalty with the original business. While also excited and motivated to earn loyalty points. Seems like a win-win-win in my book for the brands that have implemented this, their customers and, of course, Amazon.

Dec
12

You’re Not Going to Create Brand Loyalty with Urgency

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on You’re Not Going to Create Brand Loyalty with Urgency

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.

Nov
21

Sometimes It’s the Small Things that Matter Most

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on Sometimes It’s the Small Things that Matter Most

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. 







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