One challenge all businesses face is creating loyal customers. As business owners, we try to analyze our customers to figure out what methods we can use to build that base of customers which is so important to future growth. Without loyal customers, your efforts at customer acquisition quickly go from growing your business to replacing defecting customers.
James Kane is a behavioral scientist that has advised top businesses about customer loyalty. He studies the brain and what triggers loyalty in people. According to Mr. Kane, there are three triggers that influence loyalty in a person.
A Sense of Trust – According to Mr. Kane, “…trust is obtained by doing the things that people expect you to do anyway…” This is especially important for car dealerships. While people are hoping to be treated fairly and honestly, there is a stereotype that has instilled distrust in car dealerships. This is why it’s especially important to ensure that you treat every customer just as you would expect to be treated in a transaction where you are buying something from Nordstrom’s that costs $30k. You would expect to be treated in a professional manner and to be appreciated for your business. Make all your customers – sales, service and parts – feel appreciated for their patronage and live up to their expectations.
A Sense of Belonging – Businesses build a sense of belonging in their customers “by showing that a business empathizes with the worries that make customers lose sleep at night,” says Kane. Just like you, customers have a lot going on in their lives. They have bills to pay, have kids to take to soccer practice and work long, stressful days. The last thing they want is a business adding to those worries. Whether your service customers arrive for regular maintenance or come in because something is wrong, they want you to help alleviate their worries. Don’t add to them by failing to live up to any promises you’ve made or failing to solve their problem correctly. Your sales customers worry that they aren’t going to get a good deal and that they will spend too much time at your dealership. If they’re at your dealership, they’re obviously in market for a vehicle. Be an actual advisor and help them find a vehicle that fits their needs. Then facilitate an efficient transaction in a friendly manner that is mutually beneficial.
A Sense of Purpose – Show your customers a sense of purpose by operating in a manner that says, “We stand for something beyond just the exchange of money…” Don’t focus solely on what a customer brings to your business. Examine what you can give back to your customers. If you don’t already have one, create a mission statement and display it in your showroom and in your service waiting area. Show your customers that you are committed to them by sharing your organizational beliefs; (they should include customer-centric ideals). Ensure that your customers know that they are more than just dollar signs to you. Demonstrate how you appreciate their business and will do everything in your power to make sure they leave satisfied. Then live up to your promises.
In this industry, we use psychology all of the time without knowing it. We listen to a customer’s needs and help them down the path of the sale. We have sales processes designed to encourage the customer to buy… and buy now… and we have service processes designed to better assist our customers to make choices that keep their vehicles operating at optimum levels. Customer loyalty is imperative in our hyper-competitive industry. Many companies are advising businesses to shift their focus from customer acquisition to customer retention. Not only is it less expensive, but it also ensures that money spent on acquiring new customers is actually leading to growth, rather than the status quo.
What are some of the challenges that you face when trying to keep customers loyal?
How do you create a sense of trust and belonging with your customers?
In what ways do you demonstrate that you appreciate customers’ business?