Customer retention is typically much less expensive than customer acquisition. However, with the advent of the internet, consumers are changing.
Now, I’m not saying that your dealership should ditch retention and loyalty strategies – not by a longshot. You need both retention and acquisition to grow. But what if I told you there is a customer acquisition strategy that costs ZERO dollars? Interested? I thought so. The answer lies in online reviews.
Online reviews have become a prime source of information for consumers deciding which business to frequent, whether that’s a restaurant, nail salon or car dealer. Consumers trust other consumers – as long as the reviews are genuine and believable.
According to an article on Loyalty360.com, the problem with cultivating online reviews isn’t that consumers aren’t willing to leave them; but that businesses fail to ask. Those consumers that are happy with the business, had a satisfactory experience and plan to continue frequenting that business, just aren’t emotionally compelled on their own to leave a review… but they would if they were asked. In fact, 70% of consumers would leave a review if the business asked them, according to a survey by BrightLocal.com.
If you look at recent trends in the automotive industry, reviews have become more important than ever before – not just on the dealership level but on the salesperson level as well. Cars.com recently announced the launch of integrated salesperson-specific reviews on the dealership’s VDP pages hosted on their site. Consumers are now not only determining WHERE they want to purchase a vehicle but WHO they want to deal with at the dealership.
People want to do business with people they like and trust. If the customer has never been to your dealership, and never done business with you before, all they have to go on is the word-of-mouth by their friends, family and social networks, along with online reviews submitted by other customers.
Why aren’t dealerships asking customers for reviews as part of their sales AND service process?
The hesitation I’ve seen is due to the fact that they don’t want to inadvertently motivate someone who had a poor experience. If your dealership has a customer retention, loyalty and experience plan in place, and strives to provide that excellent service, I promise that the positives will outweigh the negatives by far.
Online reviews can be an excellent way to acquire new customers without expense. You’ve earned it. All you need do is ask.
Author: Michael Gorun
Michael Gorun is founder of Performance Loyalty Group, a technology-based owner retention and loyalty company. He has more than 25 years in operational service management positions for Ford, Nissan and General Motors. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.