Automotive dealers will always focus on reaching customers and completing sales. But for dealers who want customers to be happy and come back for repeat business, the completion of a sale shouldn't mark the end of a relationship – it’s only the start. After all, existing customers are much more likely than new customers to buy from you again.
Your customers want to hear from you after a sale. We’ve found that 62% of customers aren’t contacted after a purchase, yet still want some sort of communication. In the aftermath of a big purchase, customers want to feel confident about the value they’re getting. This means they still need service, support, information and more from the dealership. It stands to reason that connecting with customers after a sale can build true customer loyalty.
Strategies for Building Loyalty
By developing a strong post-purchase experience, your dealership can build a more loyal and dependable customer base. Here are three strategies to help shape that experience:
1. Send service reminders.
One of the best ways to help customers see the value of their automotive purchases is to keep them engaged through service. This is a vital part of the branded experience you offer your customers; about a third of consumers attribute their auto brand preferences to after-sales service, according to the Data and Marketing Assn.
Engaging customers with your service department begins at the point of purchase. According to a maintenance and repair study by Cox Automotive, customers are 2.3 times more likely to visit a service department within 12 months if they are introduced to services at the time of sale. Make sure your sales team works service perks into the sales conversation. But after the sale? Marketing comes into play.
Send carefully timed communications with reminders, promotions or deals for service and maintenance. You can use email, social media, mail or more – whichever your customer base prefers. Above all else, make sure your communications align: You don’t want to send messages saying “Buy a new BMW from us!” and “Get your new car’s oil changed” at the same time.
2. Ask customers to share their experiences.
After the sale, engage with your customers about their experiences during the purchase journey. Show them you care about what they went through and you value their time and opinions. By doing so, you’ll build trust and demonstrate transparency.
Make it a routine to follow up with customers and create feedback loops. The insights can help reduce churn and increase customer lifetime value and retention. While an exit survey may yield plenty of negative feedback, it also can provide suggestions for improving your product or service. Solicit feedback at multiple touchpoints by providing links in email signatures, social media profiles, on your website, through online invoices, etc. Even better, call customers to ask how the sale went.
It’s also valuable to ask customers to rate their experiences with you on social media or other review sites. Not only does this help you connect with customers in the post-purchase experience, but it also will pay dividends for future sales. After all, nearly 70% of car buyers use online reviews to make purchase decisions, according to the Data and Marketing Assn.
3. Keep in touch via social media.
Use social media platforms to keep in touch with customers and provide post-purchase care. The first step is to ask your customers to connect with your brand on social media before, during or after a sale. The second step is to make sure your social media content provides value through engaging, educational or relevant information.
Treat your social media as customer service – a place where your customers can reach out for support at any time of day. Make sure your customers can access you via direct message, posts or even chats. A word of warning, though: A fast response time is critical to gaining loyalty.
Instead of expecting buyers to drive off into the sunset and never return, many automotive dealers are noticing the value of loyal customers. With a targeted and enhanced post-purchase experience, dealers can make sure customer relationships last long after the sale – and for many sales to come.
Shelley Washburn is president of GSM, a marketing company specializing in digital and direct solutions for the automotive industry. Her 30 years in the automotive sector include management positions at Ford, Toyota and Lincoln-Mercury.