By Kathi Kruse
There’s no denying the influence Social Media has had on how we communicate.
With the ease of our communication, customer loyalty has become a hot topic. Although, it seems to sometimes get lost in the daily operations of a business. Many businesses don’t focus on their current customer until the customer complains….or you’ve had a bad month. Then, your sales staff starts looking deeper into the relationships they have with customers and realize they don’t have much to fall back on. However, it’s never too late to start.
As the saying goes, “It’s a lot cheaper to keep a customer than to acquire a new one.” The capital you earn with your customer is in the appreciation and relationship-building. That happens long before the purchase and in today’s open and connected world, it’s a must-do if you want to compete.
Recent data from R.L. Polk & Co states that the longer an owner keeps a vehicle, the more likely they are to replace it with a product from a competing brand. Yikes, that is not good news! The decline in loyalty, though gradual with each passing year, means that many automakers and dealers will need to work harder to retain customers.
Social Media allows you the platform, the technology, to provide a home for that community. It’s up to you to foster it. At one time or another in our lives, we’ve all been part of an awesome community. Whether it was a baseball team in high school, a sorority in college, or maybe even just a regular golf game. We crave that sense of connectedness and if your store can provide a place to gather, boom, you win!
It starts with making the cultural and organizational changes needed to establish loyalty as the centerpiece to your long-term success. It’s not about viewing the customer from a “how much money have they spent with us” mentality but from a holistic perspective centered on “how well we align with the experience the customer values and expects”.
Next, institute ways in which you can attract your repeat customers to your online community. Here are a few tips to get you started:
• Notify them in every way possible.
• Actively search for and provide ways to reward loyalty.
• Get your staff on board and include them in your community.
• Create a Facebook Page for an “Owner’s Club” and offer attractive loyalty discounts.
• Hold events like Service Clinics where your customer gets up close and personal with their favorite technician. (Don’t forget to take pictures and videos!)
• If you’re the owner or GM (or any other manager), spend time interacting with the group, it’s “exclusive”.
• Make people feel like they’re part of something bigger.
Social Media gives you a huge opportunity to retain customers and define the difference between you and the guy down the street. Take advantage of it now, before your competitor figures out how to do it.