Customer retention: You know it matters. In fact, for 64% of you, it’s already your top priority.1 And when it comes to the best way to achieve that goal, the facts are clear. Nothing has a bigger impact on customer retention than the ownership experience.
94% of dealership personnel state that the ownership experience is more important than the repair itself.2 Believe it or not, the experience matters even more than the actual car. A customer who expresses dissatisfaction with their vehicle but has an outstanding service experience has the exact same retention potential as one who loves their car but has an average service experience.3
When you give customers their preferred experience, they’re more likely to return for future service…and future vehicle purchases. But to create this experience, you need the right systems. Tools that deliver the convenience, efficiency and transparency your customers expect. And the best ones for the job are in the cloud.
If it’s hard to imagine the cloud working in your dealership, don’t worry — it can be tough to visualize. Fortunately, some dealerships already use the cloud to deliver a next-level ownership experience. Let’s take a look at what they’re achieving.
More Convenient Scheduling
Tully Williams, fixed operations director at Del Grande Dealer Group in San Jose, California, knows offering online scheduling options is essential. “Customers are looking for convenience and speed. They want to schedule appointments with a few clicks and know it went through, instead of filling out a form and hoping for the best,” he said. And he’s right…but most scheduling applications are hit-or-miss.
On average, 57% of email request forms go unanswered.4 No response, no confirmation, nothing. It’s impossible for customers to tell whether or not their request went through. And if scheduling appointments is inconvenient and confusing, they won’t do it. That leaves dealers relying on walk-ins, resulting in uneven loading, unfilled slots — and $135 lost for every hour of unused technician time.5
To improve his scheduling experience, Williams turned to the cloud. Tracking his shop capacity in real time, he displays available appointments online, so customers can easily select the best time for them. And since the cloud integrates with his marketing solutions, he can send his customers confirmations, raising the odds that those appointments will be kept.
John McSherry, general manager of Central Valley Nissan in Modesto, sees serious benefits from his cloud-based scheduling platform. “If we’re living off appointments instead of not knowing what’s coming in today,” he said, “we can be better prepared for the customer.” And that preparedness pays off — appointments increase one-year service retention by 12.4% over walk-ins.6
More Efficient Messaging
Your customers are happy to communicate with you … but they’re tired of receiving messages that don’t matter. Many dealers spend $2,000 a month or more on direct mail promotions that don’t apply to many of their customers.7 Or they send bulk, generic emails that only relate to a small segment of their base.
When messaging and service history are disconnected, you can’t tell which customers would benefit from which promotion. And the more you waste customers’ time, the less likely they are to come back.
When your messaging is in the cloud, you can match the right customer to the right offer at the right time, drawing on customer patterns and profiles to create segmented, targeted campaigns. Additionally, by using the cloud to view real-time shop capacity, you can identify and target open time slots. By using price elasticity to promote these slots to lapsed customers, dealership service departments can bring in lost souls and maximize shop capacity simultaneously.
Williams attributes his increased show rates to proper messaging: “We’ve been able to deliver targeted messages to our customers. Now we can communicate with customers one-to-one, and remind them when to come in.” This does more than cut down on waste — it provides value that brings customers back.
More Transparent Check-in
Before customers will return to your dealership, they need to trust you. And that means all the information you provide must be consistent and reliable. Unfortunately, at many dealerships, that’s not the case. When messaging and service menus live in separate systems instead of in the cloud, inconsistencies are common. An email may quote a different price, or a different procedure, than what advisors tell customers in the service lane — not the way to nurture trust.
Dennis Kraut, service manager of Central Valley Nissan, tackled this by bringing cloud-enabled tablets into the service drive. When pricing is in the cloud, it’s consistent across all channels. And because service advisors use tablets right at the vehicle, they can explain to customers what service is needed on the spot. This transparent, open communication goes a long way to nurture customer trust.
Bringing tablets into the service drive has a measurable impact on the ownership experience. As Kraut put it, “Your customers are comfortable using iPads and smartphones. A customer-friendly experience will leverage that technology.” Dealers who take his advice see results — tablets increase customer retention index scores by 72 points on average, and increase service retention during paid appointments by 11%.8
Customers on Cloud Nine
Research shows that consumer expectations for the service experience are rising rapidly. But Shaun Del Grande, president of Del Grande Dealer Group, knows that what they want isn’t complicated. “They want speed, convenience, transparency,” he said. “Overall, they want a quality experience when they bring their car in for service.” And when they receive it, their retention potential skyrockets.
Are you prepared to deliver? Few dealers are — only 17% believe their existing systems provide an outstanding ownership experience.9 If you don’t have the tools to provide the convenience, efficiency and transparency customers want, it’s time to find tools that do.
It’s time to turn to the cloud.
1. [Xtime Market Research: 2016]↩
3. [OEM data, based on >500,000 customer responses]↩
4. [Xtime Market Research]↩
5. [NADA Data 2014]↩
6. [Xtime Dealership Analysis]↩
8. [J.D. Power / McGraw Hill Financial: November 2015]↩
9. [Xtime Market Research: 2016]↩
Author: Jim Roche
As Senior Vice President of Marketing & Managed Services, Jim Roche is responsible for brand positioning and driving marketing’s strategic impact on business. Jim brings over 30 years of automotive high-tech leadership experience. Previously, Jim was founder and Chief Executive Officer of AutoPoint, where he was the visionary and driving force behind the development of the industry’s first multichannel marketing platform, its adoption by hundreds of dealers and its subsequent acquisition by SRS. While at SRS, AutoPoint experienced rapid growth; Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe acquired SRS in 2013.