Aust & NZ
23rd Aug 2021

Five Strategies to Retain Customers in Your Service Department

Is your dealership putting focus on your biggest asset – Customers?

Retaining customers has to be a key aspect of your business in order to build a thriving dealership. As you’d expect, converting leads to customers is equally important – but during times when generating new leads can be challenging, re-focusing your efforts to retaining customers should be your ultimate business goal.

You can’t rely on customers to remember to book in their next service, take their car in to your dealership, and leave without the thought of ever coming back. Do not underestimate the power of a loyal customer base. Think about it, losing a customer also means that you’ve wasted the resources used to convert them in the first place.

Below are some customer retention strategies for your service department that you can consider:

#1 Offer customer service surprises

When it comes to nurturing your customers, think about the non-traditional benefits that you can offer to enhance the overall service experience. If you want to build trust, loyalty, and ensure repeat customers, you need to go beyond the expected service offering. We’re not talking about those post-service car washes that most dealerships already provide.

We’re talking about that surprise discount or gift that is memorable and will leave them saying, ‘Wow, I’ll definitely be back for my next service’. Showing sincere appreciation is one of the easiest ways to build a closer relationship with your customers.

#2 Exceed customer expectations

A certain level of personalisation is an expectation these days. The power of data-driven personalisation allows you to go beyond just greeting customers by their name. When data is used accurately, you can utilise customer profiles to send service reminders, birthday wishes, provide updates on new vehicles etc.

Don’t over promise if you know that you can’t deliver. Customers can be aggressive when disappointed. However, when customer expectations are exceeded, they then become advocates for your brand. Reward your most profitable customers by creating a VIP program so they feel appreciated.

#3 Use automation to re-engage customers

Automation is allowing some of your business processes and routines to be handled automatically. In our last blog post, we discussed the importance of marketing automation. Automation will set you at a faster pace compared to your competitors. Looking at your lapsed service campaigns, are you actively getting in touch with your customers prior to their next car service?

Through automation, you can manage your customer contacts, drip feed education emails, schedule promotional emails, text messages, and event notifications. Automating these simple outreach tasks can help your team save time, so you can stay on top of managing new customers and customer retention strategies.

#4 Leverage on Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) surveys

There are so many reasons that your customers love your business. It can be the friendly staff and the great service, or the easy access to information and support. Hearing from your customers directly to know how they feel about your dealership and the service provided is a great way to cement the bond that already exists. In essence, it can help you develop engaging customer content for customer retention.

The group of customers who complain can also be your greatest marketing asset. That’s because your complaints reveal what you should improve at your service department and what to ignore. A customer complains because they are willing to stay and if you resolve complaints in their favour, research shows that 70% of the time, they will return.

#5 Create a community and customer advocacy program

Finally, the quickest way to encourage advocacy is to leverage on the power of building a community. This can be through website discussion boards and forums, or pivoting your social media strategy to build your advocates on a public social platform. A form of social proof can help retain your customers, providing them the opportunity to discuss important topics, ask questions, and promote your services.

Generally, frequent communication to your customers through various channels will help eliminate post-service doubts, improve trust levels, and persuade the customer to come back again. However, having an additional platform that encourages peer-to-peer discussion and reviews will further build customers’ confidence to trust your brand. Word-of-mouth can spread much faster than relying purely on one-way communication from your business to the customers.

In summary…

Dealerships can’t survive on customer acquisition alone. You need to find a balance between customer retention and generating new customers. Our recommended customer retention strategies tailored to the service department have been implemented by some of the largest dealership groups across Australia and New Zealand. These proven results can be very rewarding, not only in retaining current customers, but inviting fresh new faces into your dealership.

Of course, none of these strategies are guaranteed to yield overnight results. So, be patient as you implement and make sure you have systems in place to reach your customers consistently and measure the success of your customer retention strategies.

If you’d like to discuss any of these strategies further, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us and let us know if these strategies worked for you.