As customers have more choice than ever before, there’s now an even greater need to retain existing customers rather than just focusing on attracting new ones – meaning that maintaining customer satisfaction is essential.
Customer satisfaction is a vital component in building long-term loyalty with your customer base and increasing lifetime value (LTV). While receiving a 5-star rating on a single purchase from a customer is valuable, the key to increasing customer LTV (the value we can obtain from that customer relationship) is to ensure satisfaction throughout their entire journey. That 5-star rating may get you an attractive bonus in the short-term, but it has little long-term value if that person doesn’t come back to you when making their next purchase.
Even the slightest increase in customer satisfaction can greatly improve the customer LTV. By building a better customer experience and consistently exceeding expectations, you can increase satisfaction and keep customers coming back for many years to come. If customer satisfaction increases, so will the LTV of each of those customers.
It’s about measuring responses and acting on them, identifying what is or isn’t working and changing those things accordingly. Small things can make a big difference to the overall experience – for you and your customers.
LTV is currently underutilised in our industry, but when understood it can really help tell us about customer engagement levels. The only way to keep customers loyal is not just recognising how many times they visit, but improving satisfaction when they engage with you.
Customer satisfaction is highly recognised by manufacturers (OEMs) and is a necessity forced upon dealers. Dealers therefore often aim to get the highest level of satisfaction mainly to reap the rewards of an OEM bonus (or save being fined), rather than recognising its true value. But it’s more than just a tool to give you a juicy OEM bonus; it can really help to improve operations in your dealership and differentiate yourself from the competition.
There are many points at which you can measure customer satisfaction; from their first visit to your dealership to bringing their car in for a service. Surveys are a great way to monitor and manage satisfaction levels. Responses to questions should be carefully reviewed and those that fall short urgently addressed.
Surveys don’t necessarily have to be conducted after an event and they don’t need to be lengthy documents, either. They can be short and sweet, requiring the customer to answer just a few simple questions on a tablet or via SMS while they’re waiting to collect their vehicle.
This approach will appeal to many customers who don’t have the time or patience to answer long surveys. You should consider other added extras that will improve their experience with you, such as on-site valet parking – anything to keep their loyalty and stand out from your competitors.
As technology advances, cars are going to need less servicing and sales cycles will increasingly take place on digital platforms – giving dealers fewer opportunities to engage with consumers. This means maintaining high engagement levels is set to become even more of a challenge.
Remember that customer satisfaction isn’t just generated from good old face-to-face contact, but through every single point of engagement, including online to over the phone. The level of engagement you set with customers should be consistent across all channels – there’s no use shouting about your gold-star service if a customer is then going to have a poor call centre experience. A company culture needs to be established and maintained.
Communication should be delivered at the right time and in a relevant context for the buyer. Dealers must avoid adopting a heavy-handed approach to communication and make sure that every conversation or interaction has a purpose.
Personalisation is also key. Not just to certain demographics but to each individual. By delivering personalised messages at the right points in a customer’s buying journey, you’ll make them feel valued and respected – ensuring that they come to you first in the future. Use your CRM data to show how well you understand them and their needs.
With the modern consumer’s preference for leaving reviews – (and carefully reading other people’s reviews, particularly when making a big purchase) – it’s never been more important to make sure your customers are happy.
Both dealers and OEM’s need to work together to create customer loyalty and LTV and small, simple steps can be taken to make this happen. These can include checking your customers are happy after each visit, reminding them about service and MOT appointments with a text, or sending them special offers in email campaigns tailored just for them.
As customers spend less time in your dealership in the future, every interaction is an opportunity to wow them. So make every visit count, whether it’s physical or virtual. And dealers who are committed to delivering consistently high customer service will soon start to see a big impact in both customer LTV and loyalty.