Service quality will affect whether a customer turns around and recommends a dealership’s brand, according to the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Customer Service Index Study, released in March of 2018.
A dealership can use net promoter score to determine customer loyalty and predict business growth. When the dealership has a strong CSI score, the net promoter score will also be positively affected, according to the study. When customers like a service they came in for, they are more likely to tell friends and family about the service, thus creating more brand advocates. The vehicle brand advocates are then more likely to return to the dealership for repairs and common services like oil changes.
A dealership can try to reach out to an unhappy customer again and gain the business by attempting to salvage the initial reaction or make a good offer compared to the first one, but the very first step to marketing to customers that have rated the dealership’s customer service is to focus on the happy customers, says Erica Sietsma, senior vice president of product and consumer engagement for Digital Air Strike.
Sietsma has moved across the country five times to work in call tracking for the automotive industry, worked for the ninth-largest privately owned dealership, worked in customer service aspect of the industry and created retail softwares for dealerships.
She says there are many aspects of marketing that are not in the dealer’s control but a dealer needs to focus on what is in its immediate grasp.
Sietsma, who has been in the automotive marketing and customer service industry since 2002, explains the online technical challenges to marketing to customers who already rated the dealership and what avenues a dealership can take to target that business.
Gather the data from high ratings.
Before beginning any sort of marketing campaign, Sietsma says the dealership needs to gather the data from the customers who have already rated their service experience.
Happy customers are ones that at least rated the dealer four out of five stars, she says.
For example, gather types of data, including the way the customer prefers to be contacted by the dealership, whether that was through email, phone call or text messaging.
This can be done easily through a DMS, but if the dealership is gathering information to target happy customers from third-party reviews, it is a more manual process, she says. The customer can be identified through Facebook by “social cues” while those cues make it more difficult for this to be done for Google or Yelp.
Then, she says to find the demographic profile of the customers to help target the new advertisements. Demographics include location, gender, previous purchase, etc.
Sietsma says that this data can be taken from the dealership management system, or the “back-end” system, rather than the CRM, because some CRM systems have a fee for retrieving the specific data that the staff needs.
Create a specific, timely objective.
A crucial step in targeting customers that have already rated their service is to form an objective for the marketing campaign.
If the goal is to market to customers who rated the dealership highly for its service, then the campaign could be made up of targeted lists of those clients in which emails or postcards are sent or digital advertising to the custom audience list, Sietsma says.
And, a successful campaign will target that customer within the first 24 hours after they rated the business, she says.
“One of our services is called a quick-touch survey,” Sietsma says. “Part of that goes out directly from the DMS and, in most cases, we survey the customer within 24 hours.”
A poor practice to avoid is to get the advertisement to the customers after the vehicle has been delivered, which could happen at the end of the month, she says. This process is not very timely and response rates significantly drop the further away it gets from the service.
Create a campaign that is short and mobile.
Depending on the platform the customer prefers, the campaign needs to be kept short and to the point, Sietsma says.
To follow up with customers, make sure the campaign can be something a customer can follow or complete wherever he or she is.
“Can the consumer do what you want them to do with just one finger on their mobile phone while waiting in line at the drive-thru?” Sietsma asks. “If the answer to that is yes, then you’ve got a winning campaign.”
Any type of marketing message should also be as clear as possible, she says. One way to get feedback on where they want another service is through a second survey that is only four questions or less.
Sietsma recommends a manager set up a system of push notifications for alerts when a customer has rated the dealership less than three stars. She also says a push notification should be created for managers to see surveys where customers rated the dealership five stars but also wrote in feedback on areas in which the dealership could improve.
“If someone is really happy with your [sale] and they’re putting something in the feedback, then the feedback could be items that are actionable and easy for the dealership to fix,” she says.
At the end of the survey, managers can also give the customers the option to make their feedback public. Digital Air Strike has an option for customers to choose to make their feedback public and it will automatically direct push the feedback to Cars.com and Edmunds.com.
Comply with state laws before targeting the customer.
The marketing campaign can also include targeted advertisements to the customer. Platforms to send these ads to include Facebook, email and SMS (direct messaging via phone), Sietsma says. She cautions dealerships to make sure measures are taken to comply with state and federal laws before advertising to the consumer.
In the U.S., dealerships are required to get written permission to text the customer and the dealerships need to include a specific and clear “opt-out” option for the consumer either in the first text sent or at the bottom of an email, she says.