Everyone has heard the credo “a penny saved is a penny earned.” Of course, the automotive industry is concerned with a lot more than pennies. But a simple tweak to this proverb can unlock thousands of dollars in ROI: “A customer retained is a customer earned.”
Below we will look at the benefits of establishing a great first impression, the importance of retaining car buyers through service appointments and adopting technologies to help scale a quality customer experience from end-to-end.
A Customer Retained Is a Customer Earned
All too often, the auto industry pursues new customers as if that’s all there is. But the earnings garnered from one sale are limited. What’s better is creating a customer for life, and one way to do this is to turn car buyers into service customers. This process starts with the very first interaction a customer has with your dealership, such as an inquiry about a vehicle in your lot.
Automotive sales are driven by positive customer experiences in which car shoppers are given plenty of care and attention. For instance, a present and polite salesperson knows how to guide a customer around the showroom floor without being pushy. Since today’s consumers value immediate gratification, dealers need to create lasting first impressions irrespective of which channel the lead first comes from including walk-ins, call-ins and internet leads.
Then again, dealers are often inundated with leads ranging from sales-ready prospects to digital window shoppers. To quickly and effectively parse through inquiries, dealers are adopting artificial intelligence (AI) to augment human teams.
AI-driven technologies help sales teams by touching every incoming lead via email or text message to ask whether the shopper is interested in booking a test drive. If the intent is confirmed, the AI-powered sales solution passes the lead over to a salesperson right away. This ensures that every shopper receives a personal touch at scale while allowing salespeople to give their full attention to offering a great experience and closing deals.
On average, a consumer will purchase six vehicles in their lifetime; an average that is presently dropping. Knowing this, it’s crucial to build a customer-retention strategy that keeps customers coming back for service appointments.
In between automotive purchases, dealerships do well to re-engage customers for repairs and tune-ups. Automotive services are incredibly lucrative, generating profit margins of 60-70%. When you consider that newer vehicles typically involve two service appointments per year while vehicles over seven years old double the number of service appointments, you realize how much revenue is generated while keeping your business top of mind.
This is easier said than done, of course. Many drivers drag their feet when it comes to service appointments. And service departments rarely have the capacity necessary to nudge customers multiple times to come in for services. Again, the solution is to augment your workforce with AI.
Look for service AI assistant that is polite, prompt and, most importantly, persistent. Even if car owners initially shirk service appointments, an AI-powered intelligent virtual assistant will continue to follow up with would-be service customers until it’s an opportune time for them to bring their auto in for service; no matter if it takes a dozen attempts or several months.
There are various customer relationship management (CRM) and outreach tools to ensure your business stays relevant and present in people’s minds. The key is to instill and nurture customer loyalty from the first touch to vehicle purchase and throughout the lifetime of that vehicle.
By investing in a positive end-to-end customer experience, you generate greater returns from each car buyer and establish lifelong relationships with your shoppers.