Times are changing, and so are consumer desires. What hasn’t changed are the fundamental business practices leading to customer loyalty for hundreds of years. Small shop owners in the early 1900’s kept customers coming back with friendly and familiar customer service. Today, customers seek convenience, above all. That is why businesses work harder to create customer loyalty.
Modern customer loyalty is cemented in convenience and experience. Customers don’t have the time to wait or reschedule their appointments. Nor do they appreciate unsolvable service issues, and they may simply head to the next dealer or independent.
An article in Automotive News shares that Audi has been able to post 96 straight months of increasing auto sales and soared from #18 in 2008, to its current position of #1. But it’s not due to great deals or superior vehicles. Instead, it is fundamental changes in business practices at the OEM level which allowing dealers to provide more efficient customer service. Key changes credited for this consistent increase in sales are overnighting parts and empowering dealerships to make decisions.
According to the text, Audi previously discouraged dealers from overnighting parts, but by changing their parts shipping policies, Audi dealers can turn around customer repairs with greater speed and efficiency. While overnight shipping is costlier, the benefits derived from increased customer satisfaction proved to be well worth it. Though the company had relevant concerns about giving its dealerships an open budget, after an initial spike in goodwill repairs, the program relaxed into stable business production, alleviating any hesitation.
Hold the Key to Loyalty
Now service managers can perform goodwill repairs without authorization from Audi. Customer issues can be addressed immediately, resulting in a trusting and continuous customer-dealer relationship.
By consistently providing convenient and friendly service, and proactively fixing problems, dealers can keep the customers coming in at a stable rate. Additionally, if you wisely work a well-run, equity accumulating program, sales will skyrocket without the expense of acquiring new sales customers. There’s nothing worse for your bottom line than regularly losing business due to lack of customer support and willingness to go above and beyond. Although dealership growth is important, there is more worth in addressing a problem for a loyal, repeat customer than in spending the money to acquire new customers.
Dealers should consider evaluating their service department on its convenience, and analyze its use of an existing OEM goodwill program. Is it being used regularly, or not at all? If the store’s manufacturer doesn’t provide a goodwill repair program, the dealer may consider opting for such a program. Lastly, training and encouraging staff to use their best judgement when approaching customer complaints gives loyalty a platform to build off of and succeed, producing more traffic for the dealership.