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Published by: nathan_carr8236 on Mar 14, 2012
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Walkaway’s Dave Stewart shares his thoughts on Customer Retention and Customer Loyalty.

My career has always been focused on what’s good for the end user, the cutomer who buys the vehicle from one of our dealers, and on every level in between. However, what really drives business today for dealerships in particular is Customer Retention and Customer Loyalty....two similar veins with two important outcomes for everyone. So the big question is what is it and how do we do it? Customer Retention is the ability to provide enough value to outweigh price and support the vertical by having consumers spend their money at your facility, time and time again.When customers are feeling value in their relationship they also see a future value in doing business with you as long as you continue to meet or exceed their needs. That future value is the core of retention.

David Stewart, V.P. Product Development.

Customer Loyalty is the ability for you to be able to convey to the customer that what you have done in the past has earned your present relationship with them, and that relationship has the potential for a future relationship and a transaction. So why all this preface, well the “theme” of NADA this year in my view had a lot to do with Customer Retention and Customer Loyalty. For years we have been trying to build products and programs that support this theme: “Return to the selling dealer for additional benefits”. If done right, it works like a charm, whether its a Vehicle Return Program, GAP, Vehicle Service Contracts, Vehicle Enhancement Products, Tire, Wheel, Dent, Nitrogen, Security.....the list goes on. Creating that Engaged Customer will lend itself to effectively growing your business and deliver long-term growth and profitability by creating unparalleled customer loyalty and retention. Engaged Customers will always perform for your business. They’ll buy more vehicles. They’ll tell their friends about you. They’ll stay in the relationship longer, and will remain loyal even when faced with unsatisfactory customer service or when vehicle quality expectations aren’t met. What’s more, they always cost less to market and communicate to, and are more profitable overall. With that in mind, it’s clear what the is important thing is continuing to provide value that outweighs the cost for the consumer. How do we make it easy for the customer to do business with us? What kind of credit or loyalty credit do they expect or appreciate? Answering these questions with effective communications is the key. You need to communicate, recognize and reward your customers’ business and loyalty. Communication can be via various methods. Whether its email, direct mail, the phone, web or social media, the message has to be about what the customer’s needs and wants are, and how you deliver to meet those expectations. It takes nearly a thousand dollars to earn a customer’s business, but how much does it take to retain it? How much does it take to earn new business from existing customers? If we offer further services to existing loyal customers we can keep them for life. Some of the most underutilized sources of new business is your very own data base of customers who either purchased vehicles or never came back for parts and service, or the ones that come back for certain work only. You can build loyalty by earning their’ business back, and eventually retain them for further sales. If they like you and do business with you, the chances are good they are going to refer you to their friends and family. Just do it right to begin with, and the opportunity that will be created will be well worth the initial investment. In my opinion, take advantage of the opportunity that exists today, your customers expect it, just make sure you under promise and over deliver and you could very well have engaged loyal customers, and retaining them.....for life.

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