When it comes to customer loyalty programs, customers like to feel appreciated and recognized for their loyalty. And, if they are not, it doesn’t take much to turn them away from being loyal customers into brand advocates.
I recently came across an interesting story about an Uber customer who wrote an open letter concerning his experience with the company. He wasn’t just any old Uber customer. According to Uber’s leaderboard (yes, apparently they have one), he was the TOP customer in the world, as he had utilized Uber for more rides than anyone else.
In his letter, the customer shared that, while he still loved Uber’s service, he never felt special, recognized or even rewarded for being Uber’s top customer. He stated, “I’ve more rides in an Uber than anyone else on Earth. Has your company once thanked me for my undying loyalty? Not even once.” He went on to state that he feels as if Uber is “missing the boat when it comes to fostering great relationships with its customers…your faithful clients are your biggest potential evangelists…treating them with a special touch would turn them into brand advocates who would spread good cheer about the company on their social networks.”
According to this customer, when he tells friends that he is Uber’s top customer, they inevitably ask what perks he receives. However, he has none he can tell them about.
Let’s translate this into the automotive world. Think about that loyal, repeat customer. The one that has purchased the most vehicles, referred the most people and made the most repeat visits to your service department.
What if they were never thanked, recognized, or rewarded for their loyalty and support. I’m pretty sure that eventually that customer will go away. Sure, they may, if asked, still tell people that they’ve been doing business with you. But the real value lies in them proactively inserting themselves into conversations, encouraging their friends, relatives and networks to check you out first – whether that’s for sales or service.
Customers nowadays may be used to loyalty programs – and some retailers think that the mere fact that they are used to them makes them less valuable. But think about this for a minute: the loyalty program may be why they came to you in the first place. However, that experience quickly fades if you do not look after them and maintain an exceptional customer experience with each visit. If that customer is not acknowledged and appreciated for their loyalty, they may still leave satisfied, but don’t necessarily feel like their business is appreciated, valued or rewarded.
And that’s where loyalty programs come in.
Loyalty programs offer your dealership a way to recognize and reward those customers who have supported – and continue to support you — through sales, service or both.
Dealerships have no problem offering coupons and discounts for customer acquisition efforts — low price offers with disclaimers that state “for first time customers only.” How do you think that makes your loyal customers feel?
Loyalty programs can incentivize future visits, increase the volume of visits per customer and the amount of money spent per visit.
Consider the argument by Uber’s top customer: Even though he’s a loyal customer and continues to love the service, he wrote a letter and published it online simply to share with Uber how unappreciated he feels.
Lack of customer recognition and a less than exceptional customer experience will certainly fail to attract new customers or increase the loyalty and frequency of visit of existing customers. It only serves to show that no matter how often they spend money with you, they’ll continue to be treated like any other customer.
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.