Keep your customers coming back

Last updated on December 10, 2021

Did you know it can cost five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one1?

It stands to reason that dealerships should look to retain the customers they already have and build a loyalty relationship with them.

Encouraging strong after-sales relationships requires dealerships to put a solid customer retention policy at the core of their business processes. Not only will an enthusiastic customer advocate for your dealership in their discussions with friends and family, those who receive excellent post-purchase service will return to have their vehicle serviced at the dealership and are far more likely to purchase again from the same dealership.

Let’s explore some of the strategies dealerships can put in place to lock in a loyal base of customers.

Waving to your customer as they exit the dealership yard isn’t the end of a sales relationship – it’s the start of a service relationship.

A study by Accenture into the buying journey of auto customers (in Europe) found that 59 per cent want some sort of engagement with their vehicle manufacturer after purchase2. Customers are also open to maintenance reminders and tips about vehicle usage and maintenance as forms of post-purchase engagement.

A key factor in encouraging a strong customer/dealership bond – both pre-purchase and during the vehicle ownership phase – is to identify customer pain points and always follow through with a solution when one has been promised.

Allianz recently identified a dealership customer who reportedly stayed with their current insurer when a conversation about insurance with the dealership was not followed up on. In order to build trust and authenticity, the relationship between dealership business manager needs to be considered less as a sales relationship and more as an ongoing relationship.

Customers are more likely to keep using a dealership’s services if it offers a loyalty program3. Not only do loyalty programs encourage repeat visitation, they keep the dealership top of mind when customers are asked to give recommendations.

Note that customers are more likely to engage with a loyalty program if they can use their phone to access it, and they are further encouraged if they can see immediate points and rewards accrue when they spend with the dealership3.

Not all loyalty rewards have to come in the form of programs, try keeping notes in your Customer Relationship Management Systems to check in with your loyal customers when they return – they’ll appreciate if you remember their birthday, the anniversary of the day they picked up the car or the names of their beloved pets.

It’s very easy for potential customers to gauge the reputation of your dealership by looking at online reviews. Safeguard that reputation by monitoring social media mentions and by responding to every negative comment in a professional manner. You can quickly turn a harsh review into a positive if you acknowledge the customer and take steps to address the problem at its source.

You should also ensure your dealership’s omnichannel marketing strategy consistently reflects the dealership’s core brand messaging.

Your dealership’s customers expect you to know them, so always use personalised communications. Sending an email or a text message with the recipient’s first name in the salutation will go a long way to ensuring it is read.

Communicate with your customers about regular maintenance appointments, service specials and updating them on new vehicle releases. Consider using a regular cadence of communications via online and offline channels – you can never be sure when a customer might ‘re-awaken’ and be in the market for a new vehicle.

Another way to embed a long-term service relationship is to embrace connectivity. The technology already exists for service departments to receive notifications about repair needs not from vehicle owners, but from the vehicles themselves. It’s not inconceivable that vehicles will soon be able to drive themselves to a dealership for a service.

As vehicles become smarter and as we edge towards a world of fully autonomous cars, consider how your dealership can streamline the touchpoints it has with your customers.

(General information used for this article4)

  1. Customer Acquisition Retention
  2. Accenture ‘Global Auto Consumer Study’
  3. The statistics provided here are sourced from an Allianz survey conducted in 2020 on customers’ car-buying journeys and their experience of purchasing insurance. (Sample size – Qualitative: 21 in-depth interviews conducted / Quantitative: 4000+ survey responses.)
  4. General information used for this article:

This article has been prepared by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL234708 (“Allianz”). Information contained in this article is accurate as at 1 September 2021 and may be subject to change. In some cases, information has been provided to us by third parties and while that information is believed to be accurate and reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed in any way.

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