Car manufacturers consistently invest vast sums of money to design, build and launch new models in the race to attract new buyers and grow market share.
In addition, they provide finance partners with subsidies to promote point-of-sale finance and underpin future residual values.
To minimise churn, drive loyalty and sustainably grow market share, customer retention is undoubtedly vital for manufacturers and financiers.
It’s widely accepted that people love cars; it’s just that they really don’t enjoy buying them. As such, the industry must consider adopting a push rather than pull approach when it comes to customer retention.
What do I mean by this? Typically, the dealer is at the sharp end of customer re-solicitation with their default method of contact most regularly an outbound telephone call.
There are several issues with this approach.
First, ensuring quality and continuity of outbound calls by hundreds of staff across an OEM network is a Herculean task.
Secondly, it is extremely difficult for a dealer to secure the full attention of a prospect during their working day; moreover, evening inbound sales calls are unwelcome among the vast majority when they are at home relaxing.
As a result, retention success is significantly restricted by this combination of approaches.
Today our world is digital and we take it with us wherever we go. It’s in our pockets in the form of a smartphone.
We no longer consider advertising vehicles for sale in the Sunday papers as a primary marketing activity, so why does the industry still default to outbound calls to drive sales?
Digital customer self-serve is the 21st century alternative to the traditional outbound call, with banking apps providing a perfect example of this sea change in customer acceptance.
Let’s not forget the first thing you must do before you can sell anything is to secure the customers attention and engagement.
By leveraging the reach of smartphone technologies, by providing a B2C/C2B interactive communications platform that can integrate with an existing, or new OEM/financier initiative, we can establish a push rather than pull approach.
A highly-compelling customer proposition becomes even more powerful when augmented by video, online help, interactive tools and a strong call to action; all delivered and accessed by smartphone at times that are convenient to the recipient.
If you clearly set out a stellar proposition and allow customers time to consider, including with friends and family, while ensuring continuous accessibility to brand, financier and a potential offer through the smartphone, then you are well on your way to truly delivering unparalleled customer service.
This process ensures that conversion from proposition to showroom appointment and sale will happen much more readily.
After all, the customer is always the best salesperson.
* Paul Bennett is the director of international business development for global automotive solutions provider Autofutura