AutoPoint Blog

The Elements of Effortless Part II.

Posted by Hilary Biggart Thursday, May 26, 2016

Last week, we talked about a few elements of the effortless customer experience in a dealership. We covered the stark decrease in customer retention over time, especially after just a year or two, and we went over how to begin to counteract the loss through innovative tech tools in your titling and registration process and on your service drive.

This week, we’re going outside your physical store and into the digital realm. If the customer is in your store, then you have an obvious opportunity to engage them and provide a positive experience. But what can you do when they’re not there? How can you stay top-of-mind and connect with your customers no matter where they are?

This is where smartphones, marketing, and loyalty tools can really show positive effects.

Drive your marketing with data.

Marketing is the first defense against customer loss. Regular communications from you remind your customers what they need and connect with them at key moments to shorten the service interval. At least, that’s what marketing should do.

To get the most of your marketing, you’re going to need good data to back it up. Customers see hundreds of marketing messages every day—you need yours to stand out. The best way to do that is to provide highly relevant information in places where your customers will actually see your messages.

Marketing systems that pull data from your DMS and use customer segmentation and ultra-precise targeting have the best chance of connecting with your customers in effective ways. Data tells your marketing system what your customers need to hear. Do they need an oil change? Is it time for a 100,000 mile check-up? The data informs your message.

Once you have the right message, customer segmentation and targeting send communications at the right times and put them in places your customers visit most. Especially for online digital display ads, targeting keeps your voice above the noise. Customer segmentation helps you focus on your most profitable customers as well as retain less loyal customers who are in danger of being lost to the competition. Segmentation is how you know the difference. 

Stay top-of-mind with dealer-branded apps.

If you’ve been keeping up with our weekly tech series, you know by now that apps are important—especially if they offer your customers valuable features.

Dealer-branded mobile apps keep your dealership in constant connection with your customers, but only if they offer the right tools. One of the most important ones is an appointment scheduler. Have you ever tried to set up an appointment through your online scheduler? Have you had a good experience? Too few dealerships have mobile-ready appointment schedulers, and far fewer have app-based schedulers. This is no longer optional.

Loyalty programs are another huge component of your branded app. Loyalty programs have a proven record for increasing retention and engagement and apps are a valuable tool for keeping your customers up to date on how many points they have and how far they are from their next reward.

Deliver inspection results digitally.

Although separate from your general mobile app, customer-facing apps that deliver inspection results are also an essential digital tool. Customers increasingly prefer digital interactions over face-to-face ones. An app that delivers inspection results in an easy-to-understand way and through a digital format empowers customers to make better service decisions—and it increases your sold ASRs.

ASRs can make or break your service success, but first you have to offer them effectively. A digital app means your customers always see all their ASRs, and they have an easy, low-pressure option to approve the additional services they want. Service advisors don’t always have the same consistency.  

However, don’t think that an app removes your service advisors from the equation. These apps enhance the customer experience, but the service advisors is still your customer’s guide and resource for additional information. Your inspection results app should make it easy for the customer to contact the service advisor directly with questions or concerns.

When you want to increase loyalty and retention, an exceptional customer experience is your best differentiator. Create the seamless experience your customers want through every touch point in the vehicle cycle and you gain an essential edge over the competition. Get the effortless part right, and your customers will stay for life.


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