Retention & LoyaltyReviews

Retention & Loyalty
Interview with Assurant Global Automotive: Customer Experience Tech

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As Bob Hooey said, "if you are not taking care of your customers, your competitor will." With so many dealership options and value offerings a potential customer can turn to, the differentiator factor will ultimately be "The Customer Experience." This experience is not only up and till the transaction takes place but continues to be built on each customer engagement point for the lifetime of that vehicle. It is known that it is 5x easier to retain a customer than acquire a new one. Why not deliver on this lifetime CX opportunity by adding extra value to the post-purchase experience? Being tech-smart on how your dealership will deliver the benefits of added value and take care of the customer could give your dealership a competitive edge. Assurant Global Automotive has recently launched a mobile app that will help dealers and clients connect with their customers, deliver a more personalized car ownership experience, grow their revenue, and retain more loyal customers. The Dealer Marketing Magazine team had the opportunity to chat with Martin Jenns, Senior Vice President of Global Transformation at Assurant Global Automotive to see the new Pocket Geek Auto (PGA) app in action. What inspired Assurant Global Automotive to create Pocket Geek Auto (PGA)? We've always had deep conversations with our dealer partners and there was one consistent theme that stood out – increasing the value of core dealer products and services to consumers. There was an opportunity to help dealers grow consumer loyalty, improve the customer experience, and drive value for dealer offerings like maintenance, protection plans and service, and from that, Pocket Geek Auto was born. Pocket Geek Auto is part of the Pocket Geek family of products offered in Assurant's other core businesses like mobile and home, where we help consumers manage and protect their mobile device performance, content, and maintenance throughout its lifecycle. In the auto industry, the post-purchase lifecycle management of a customer is very manual, labor intensive, and fragmented. Pocket Geek Auto serves as a necessary relationship tool between the dealer and consumer that streamlines and improves the customer experience. Take banking for example. Do you remember the last time you physically visited your local branch? Likely not, as most financial institutions have created apps where you can easily manage your account and seamlessly deposit and transfer money through the click of a button. We've taken a similar approach with Pocket Geek Auto. Customer Experience in automotive has been a trending topic and focus for dealerships as they build new strategies post-pandemic. Your focus on the post-purchase experience is certainly interesting and is a crucial point to ensure your customer is retained for the long run. How does the overall objective for the Pocket Geek Auto app support this idea? It's all about creating a better post-purchase experience. For dealers, our objective is to help build customer loyalty, strengthen core offerings, and drive service revenue. We're also helping dealers become more transparent and direct in their engagement with customers to drive customer satisfaction. For consumers, we're focused on creating a personalized car ownership experience that extends beyond the vehicle purchase. We want to help dealers ensure that consumers have a hassle-free car care experience and can connect with their dealer efficiently today and down the road. Can you tell us a little about Pocket Geek Auto's key features? It is a mobile app designed to help keep dealers connected to their customers over the lifetime of the vehicle ownership. Through the app, dealers can communicate with their customers by sending maintenance reminders, safety recalls, deals, and price match offers, and other information. Pocket Geek Auto also offers a paperless feature called Digital Glovebox, which has the capability to store vehicle-related documents regarding ownership and vehicle coverage for multiple vehicles. Other key features of the app include on-demand technical support for in-car technology and we will be introducing a simplified claims process that allows customers to report a protection policy directly through the app. How can Pocket Geek Auto be accessed? Is it free for dealers and consumers? Anyone can download Pocket Geek Auto for free to their iOS or Android mobile device and connect it to their vehicle but there are enhanced benefits when a consumer downloads in conjunction with a Pocket Geek Auto dealer or partner. There is no cost to the consumer or the dealer. For our dealer and other distribution channel partners, it is a value-add product that can serve as the primary method of communication to the end consumer via a white labeled version specific to their business. Consumers will typically download the dealer white labeled app at the time of vehicle purchase while they are still in the dealership. Our dealers and partners will receive access to expert technical support for their customers, assistance with administrative details, and even customer insights and analysis straight through a convenient portal. Superior end-to-end customer experience is a major driving force in building brand loyalty, which is essential to retain customers for the possibility of repurchasing. Are there customized options available to complement your brand and business processes? What else makes Pocket Geek Auto unique to dealers? PGA's offering is unlike anything we have seen in the industry to date. The app's technology and open API pulls in over 20 integration points and complements OEM apps already in use with different dealer specific features. Dealers also have full control of branding, imagery, and offers digitally delivered to their consumers through the app, including reporting features that allow for real-time analysis of consumer interactions. Our clients continue to look to us for innovative ways to solve today's business problems and we will be continuously adding new features to the app based on the feedback we hear from dealers and their customers. We leveraged our learnings across the Pocket Geek family of apps, specifically Pocket Geek Mobile, to bring an enhanced experience for today's digitally driven consumer.
Behavior Prediction Tech Can Improve Stores' Marketing ROI

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A dealership owes its existence to retaining as many of its existing customers as it can and replacing those who defect with new customers. That is plain to anyone who has ever spent any time around the car business … or pretty much any business for that matter. Keeping the customers satisfied is a business goal so transcendent that it has been memorialized in song. Yet keeping loyal customers loyal is a more challenging task for a dealership than it is for other types of retailers. Those who run coffee shops or delis or even clothing stores might see their customers several times a month or even several times a week. But a car dealership might not see a loyal customer for months or maybe even years at a time. You've heard of long-distance relationships? For auto dealers, the relationship might better be termed "time-distant." And like a long-distance personal relationship, it can be hard to maintain. With any luck, your store retains the sales customer as a service customer after the sale, so that is one way of maintaining positive contact. But in these days when the titillating impulse to try something new is ever-present, providing good service experiences might not be enough to persuade them to purchase from you again, especially if that customer has moved across town, or if he or she drove crosstown to buy from you in the first place. So the game boils down to keeping as many of your sales customers as is humanly possible, giving service customers the impetus to become sales customers, and gaining incremental business by enticing people you've had no contact with at all to visit your store and buy a car from you. Just like hitting a baseball or catching a trout on a dry fly, the basic concept is easy to grasp. Executing it is the hard part. One thing you could do — one thing that a great many auto retailers resort to — is using mass media to put and keep their names in front of potential customers. TV, radio, and online ads enable you to reach many people at once with a concise message about what you do…and with luck, what you do that is different from the things all your fellow dealers do. But mass media can lack two key ingredients — relevancy and personalization. And without relevancy and personalization, the expensive messages are nothing but clutter. They bounce right off the potential prospect if, indeed, the prospect pays any attention to them in the first place. On the other hand, big data plus the data you already have on hand in your DMS and CRM systems can enable you to create compelling, personalized messages to your customers and potential customers. When you think about it, your DMS knows a hell of a lot about each and every sales and lease customer you've ever had. That data can be used predictively to suggest to you — and to your customer — when they might be ready to transact with you again. The difficulty is data-mining it. This is where behavioral targeting technology like that pioneered by a company called automotiveMastermind comes in. Its behavior prediction technology helps dealers anticipate individuals' automobile-buying intentions with an amazing degree of precision. This enables the automated creation of micro-targeted communications to current customers and prospects alike. Far from being one-size-fits-all, these communications are tailored to each individual and are delivered only to them. "When you combine the DMS data that we have from the dealer on their customers with IHS Markit data, we've got over 1,000 points of data on these customers," Ian Grace, automotiveMastermind's senior manager of partner performance, told us. "That allows us to understand better who's going to buy and, more importantly, why they're going to buy. So that then we can empower the dealer with that information to make a proactive phone call or outreach to the customer." In fact, the outreach itself might provide the impetus to begin the shopping process and to buy. For example, an email might remind the prospect that she is driving at a pace that could take her beyond the mileage limits of her lease. Or it could warn a customer that his vehicle is about to go out of warranty. "Ultimately, what we're here to do is to let the dealer know what their customers' potential pain points or pleasure points are," Grace said. "Are you [the customer] in a bad spot? Or could we get you into a better spot? That's ultimately what's at the core of our technology. That's what we're letting the dealer know, and that's what our marketing is saying [to the consumer.] So we're here to ultimately help you." This just in — helping customers actually works. More to the point, providing customers with reasons to transact that are unique to them and speak to their individual circumstances are keys to marketing effectiveness and favorable marketing/advertising return on investment. Stores like Audi Princeton and Lexus of Warwick that rely on behavior prediction technology have found it has boosted their loyalty rates while at the same time gaining them sales from their service-only customers and from conquests of likely buyers in their areas. Mastermind dealer partner Lexus of Towson's first-month direct mail campaign based on the analysis of thousands of data points that enabled it to close 20 deals at a 63% close rate, up from the store's typical 35-40% rate. The ability to predict when customers are going to buy and what customers are going to buy offers magical pieces of information that dealers can leverage to their advantage. But they can only use that leverage if they are able to deliver compelling, personalized information in a timely manner. And that's where technology must come to bear, technology that can have very salubrious effects. "We've got some dealer partners that are such strong partners with Mastermind and truly believe it at such a core sort of cultural level for their store, that it's one of the questions that they ask in their interview," Grace said. "Have you ever heard of automotiveMastermind? Have you worked with automotiveMastermind at a previous dealer? And if they say yes, then that's a feather in that potential hire's cap."
Tracking Online Reputation: You're Still Counting The Wrong Thing

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There is no denying that generating new reviews, week in and week out, is a critical component to a dealer’s business process, but a common misconception is that review count then, should be an important number to monitor. Well, it is and it isn’t. Review count should be tracked, but only to measure one thing: does my review solicitation process work? However, the volume of reviews is not a measure of customer satisfaction at all, and more importantly, it does not tell you how your online reviews are impacting your business. For that, we need to look at your average ratings, and we need to look at these average ratings in a manner that most businesses out there are ignoring: by recency and relativity. Scores vs review volume Let’s start with the recency factor and for that, we need to back up and discuss why we track scores vs review volume. When businesses started paying attention to reviews, volume was more important. A business might have 50 to 100 reviews on Google and their competition had 5 or 10 reviews. Having a larger volume of lent credibility. That is a much less common scenario today. Also, review volume has grown substantially across the board, where instead of dealers having hundreds of reviews they now have thousands. This is why your average rating is so important. No prospective buyer will read all 827 of your reviews to see what your customer service is like, the average rating tells the story. Focusing on continued review growth also has become less important because the credibility from 827 reviews vs 881 reviews is likely the same in the consumer's eye. A “lot of reviews” is still a lot of reviews in either scenario. So once you have a good volume of reviews (across all review sites), the focus should be on improving your average rating. The metric to track for this is the average rating of your recent reviews. Many dealers focus on their lifetime average, but once you get a lot of reviews, that lifetime average changes slowly, and so lifetime score doesn’t tell you how effective you are at currently improving your score. It also tells you very little about the current state of your customer experience. A good number to track would be a rolling 90-day average score of your reviews. This tracks how the customer experience is trending now, so you can find problems sooner rather than later, but also tracks how your current reputation management efforts are impacting your lifetime score, either increasing it or decreasing it. Your 90-day score is an actionable number you can use to make decisions. Relativity and reputation The other metric to track with reviews is even more important. I referred to it earlier as relativity, because reputation is a very relative concept. A dealer checks his Google score and sees a 4.2 average rating and might be happy that this meets their “goal”. The reality though is that looking at just that 4.2 number tells this dealership almost nothing about how their reputation is doing and the impact that scores are having on your business. If all the other dealerships in their market average between 4.5 – 4.8 on Google, your score is the worst in your market and almost certainly costing you sales. However, if all other dealers range between 3.5-3.8, then your 4.2 is by far the best and you are sure to be stealing business from the competition. So when we talk relativity in the review score, we mean tracking your score against the competition. That is what car buyers are looking at and if that is an important metric for them, it has to be important to you. Car buyers are more likely to decide on the model(s) they want to purchase first and then decide where they are going to purchase as the following step. Competitive review scores then are the metric they use to aid in that decision. There are vendors/tools out there that can provide you a competitive analysis of your review scores, but an easy way to track this on your own is with Google maps.  How does your dealership stack up? To see how you stack up, first go to Google maps and search your city. Then after it displays your city, click on “Nearby”. Once you do this, the city disappears from the top search box so you can enter the second part of your search. Enter your brand and “dealers”. (ie Toyota Dealers) and click the search button. Now Google displays all those brand dealers in your market along with their review count and score. See how you stack up. If you do not have any competition of your own brand in your market, use “auto dealers” instead and see how you compare to all of the choices a consumer has. Now that you see how your score relates to the competition, this should be your number 1 goal…increase your average scores so you are #1 in your market. That will make you the first dealership to visit or buy from for many shoppers. By tracking both recency and relativity of your review scores, you will ensure that reviews are helping to drive success for the dealership.
Downey Nissan Boosts Social Media Interactions 627% With Vboost Viral Videos

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Newport Beach, CA — September 10, 2018 — In the six-month period from February through July 2018, Downey Nissan , California’s #1 volume Nissan dealer, experienced a viral lift of 627 percent in their social media marketing program, attributed to videos sent out by  Vboost, an automotive viral marketing company. The viral lift was measured by the amount of interactions, views and shares that Downey Nissan’s social media postings received from their customers, as well as from their customers’ friends and families. “For many people, a vehicle is the most expensive purchase they’re going to make, so what better way to share the memory than a video or photo that you can post online,” said Rebeca Galvan, Downey Nissan’s BDC/Marketing Director. “Word of mouth from your customers is the best advertising you can get.” Downey Nissan’s salespeople use the social media app to take photos of customers when they take delivery of their vehicle. The technology instantly creates a short video set to upbeat, licensed music that is sent to the customer via text or email. This allows the customer to share the videos from their personal pages on a variety of platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google and WhatsApp. The email also encourages customers to write a review and provides links to Downey’s preferred review sites. During the six-month period, videos of Downey Nissan’s customers generated 4,856 video views and 2,894 shares across social media platforms. “This is a great marketing tool that builds customer rapport and interaction, and our salespeople love it because it’s fun and interactive,” said Galvan. Galvan has been working with Vboost for nearly two years since she joined Downey Nissan in late 2016. Her primary marketing challenge is that the dealership is located in a very competitive market. “There are 11 other Nissan dealers in our area,” she said. She chose to try the technology because she believed it might help differentiate Downey Nissan from the competition. Managing Partner Rinaldi Halim believes it’s a marketing strategy that accomplishes this goal. “Dealerships don’t always have the best reputation, so our job is to educate the customer that we are different, and we care about their experience,” said Halim. “Social media is a great strategy for doing this. When our customers post pictures of themselves with their new cars, it generates a lot of feedback from their online networks, which extends our reach and builds our reputation in the community.” Downey Nissan is currently the number one volume Nissan dealer in California and has won the Global Award of Acceptance from Nissan every year for the last four years. The dealership has received a 9 out of 10 scores in every single category, which is a huge accomplishment considering only 50 dealerships in the world receive the award. Managing Partner Rinaldi Halim acknowledges, “There are many different factors involved in this award and marketing is just one, but we love what Vboost adds to our marketing program.” Downey Nissan also uses videos in their lead follow-up process. When an Internet lead comes into the CRM, a short video is automatically created with a photo of the vehicle that the customer inquired about, along with a video of a sales manager giving a short introduction to the dealership. The email is automatically sent out to the prospect and has been very effective at generating responses. “We get a lot of car shoppers calling and thanking us for the video,” said Galvan. “They say some stores don’t even bother to respond to them, and because we send out a video they think we went above and beyond to do something special for them. That opens the door to a conversation.” The videos sent out after customers leave also helps to increase the number of reviews that they write, thanks to the links that are embedded into the emails. “I honestly didn’t realize it would help us with reviews, which are very important to us,” said Galvan. “The communication that goes out gets opened 95% of the time and reminds the customer to review the dealership.” Downey Nissan also shares Vboost videos of their happy customers on large screens that are set up in the showroom and service department. When customers share their photos and videos on social media platforms and post them with the hashtag #DowneyNissan, the posts and pictures appear on the screens. Galvan recently chose to implement Vboost Live, a new feature that integrates customer photos and videos with Downey Nissan’s website, creating hundreds of new pages of searchable content that helps to increase organic search results. “This has turned out to be a really cool feature that the salespeople love because it helps them to build their personal brands,” said Galvan. “If you type in a salesperson’s name, all of the photos and videos that salesperson has taken over the years show up in the search results, along with the salesperson’s picture and phone number.” Another side benefit is the number of website visits that the viral videos generate. In the six-month period from February through July, videos shared on social media resulted in 902 website visits. “This is huge for us, because we spend a lot of time and money trying to get eyeballs to our websites, and these videos perform well for that purpose,” said Galvan. For more information, watch this Vboost overview video for additional information and to schedule a demonstration call: 800-799-3130 or visit www.Vboost.com About Vboost Based in Newport Beach, CA, Vboost, Inc. is the first proactive process to create positive viral marketing in the retail automotive space. It involves a streamlined process via a mobile application and three unique technologies which collect customer photos at the time of vehicle delivery, convert them to custom music videos and then send them directly to the customer via email or text. By delivering these branded messages to customers during their emotional highpoint, most customers are compelled to upload and share these videos with family and friends via Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, email and other social media platforms. Best of all, results from each viral marketing campaign are being monitored, quantified and reported back to the dealers. Media Contact Sara Callahan, Carter West Public Relations,  www.carterwestpr.com ,  scallahan@carterwestpr.com , 727-288-2159 (office), 949-742-0477 (cell)
Kelley Blue Book Joins the Vin-UP Automotive Service Vehicle Equity Program

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Asbury Park, NJ — June 19, 2018 Automotive dealer service customers can now be instantly informed of a vehicle’s value, thanks to service valets and advisors being equipped with Vin-UP™ portable scanners and printers, handing the owner a “Vin-UP Offer Ticket” as they exit their vehicle.The ticket displays the latest Kelley Blue Book Trade-In Value of that vehicle. Dealers have the option of offering incentives to that customer and discuss the sale of their car, allowing stores to substantially increase their stock of quality pre-owned inventory.“Your strongest ‘leads’ drive in and out of the service lane every day, and the Vin-UP program gives the service customer an excellent starting point to consider selling their vehicle,” says Bruno Lucarelli, president of U.S. Vin-UP Distributor Mobility Sales Solutions. “Other service lane equity programs ‘lead with the sale,’ which we now know is confirming a customer’s worst fears about entering a dealership. The Vin-UP approach ‘leads with the offer,’ a business model more indicative of the ‘Amazon experience’ providing valuable information upfront to customers that creates a more informed and customer-centric decision. Vin-UP starts the ‘sales conversation’ better than any other program available, and offering trusted Kelley Blue Book Trade-In Values adds to the customer’s comfort level.”“With up-to-date and data-driven trade-in value information readily available, buyers and sellers can make a more confident decision about a vehicle,” said Damon Bennett, senior director of syndication for Kelley Blue Book. “Both parties also come to the table with the same information, helping facilitate the negotiation with ease, using valuations backed by more than 90 years of experience.”Customer retention is the key to success, and service customers driving aging vehicles are the most likely to defect to other brands. Vin-UP allows Dealers to target vehicles up to 20 years old for instant purchase. Vin-UP is available as a monthly web-based portal subscription that includes all hardware. About Mobility Sales Solutions Founded by Bruno Lucarelli, a Veteran of Autotrader, Edmunds.com, and ebay Motors, Mobility Sales Solutions is the exclusive U.S. Representative of the Vin-UP™ Service Vehicle Acquisition Program. Contact sales@mssauto.com About Kelley Blue Book Founded in 1926, Kelley Blue Book , The Trusted Resource, is the vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry. Each week, the company provides market-reflective values on its top-rated website KBB.com , including its famous Blue Book. Trade-In Values and Kelley Blue Book Price Advisor tool, which provides a range for what consumers can reasonably expect to pay for a vehicle in their area. Car owners looking to sell immediately can also get a redeemable, transaction-ready offer with Kelley Blue BookSM Instant Cash Offer. The company also provides vehicle pricing and values through various products and services available to car dealers, auto manufacturers, finance and insurance companies, and governmental agencies. Kelley Blue Book launched its first international consumer-facing site in 2017. Kelley Blue Book is a Cox Automotive brand. Media Contact For more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact Bruno Lucarelli at sales@mssauto.com .
Toyota, Subaru, Honda Score Highest Brand Loyalty, Edmunds Report Reveals

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Santa Monica, CA — March 6, 2018 — Automakers that leverage emotional design, offer a wide array of SUVs, and have a solid history of reliability hold the keys to keeping customers brand-loyal, according to the new 2018 Edmunds Trade-In Loyalty Report. The report leverages insights gleaned from more than 13.9 million vehicle transactions between 2007 to 2017 to explore what drives customer loyalty at both the segment and the brand level. Edmunds defined loyalty as the percentage of vehicles traded in to purchase a new vehicle that was the same segment, manufacturer, brand or model. "There's been a dramatic shift in the last 10 years in the tastes of car buyers, and with auto sales on the decline, maintaining customer loyalty has arguably never been more important," said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds. "Trade-in customers are a critical group for automakers to keep in the brand family, as in theory they should be among the easiest to retain." This in-depth report uncovers the reasons why consumers have made such a dramatic pivot away from passenger cars in favor of SUVs, and the significant impact that's had on loyalty. It also identifies which companies are doing the best at keeping trade-in customers in the brand family, and what they're doing right. Key findings include: Toyota, Subaru, and Honda have the highest levels of customer loyalty in the mainstream segment. According to the report, the storied reputation Toyota and Honda have for quality and reliability have helped ensure that buyers who value vehicle longevity keep coming back to the brand. Even though this reputation was built on the backs of passenger cars, it has successfully bled over and boosted loyalty for their SUV offerings as well. Subaru owes its success primarily to offering the right products at the right time: thanks to making a quick pivot to a lineup bolstered by desirable SUVs, the brand has seen its loyalty leap from 45% in 2007 to 61% in 2017. Lexus, Audi and Land Rover lead in luxury loyalty at a time when high-end buyers are more fickle than ever. While luxury loyalty has historically always been lower than for mainstream brands, Edmunds reports that it's been dropping steadily for the last three years — and in 2017 hit 37%, the lowest since 2009. Similar to its twin brand on the mainstream side, Lexus earned the luxury loyalty crown by appealing to practical buyers who embrace the brand's reputation for comfort and reliability. Audi came in second place by leveraging the opposite strategy and focusing on appealing to buyer emotions with distinct designs and a focus on performance. Similar to Subaru on the mainstream side, Land Rover's SUV-heavy lineup is perfectly in line with current consumer tastes, and the brand doesn't have the baggage of displaced former passenger car owners weighing them down. The Great Recession was the driving force behind shoppers shifting so dramatically away from passenger cars to SUVs, and completely changed the loyalty landscape. In the years during and following the Great Recession, CAFE mandates, dramatic swings in fuel prices and the economic climate converged, forcing automakers to change how they approached the SUV segment. In 10 years SUVs went from a segment of boxy gas guzzlers to efficient car-like family haulers, forever transforming the automotive market. In 2017, SUVs dethroned trucks in buyer loyalty for the first time , and passenger vehicle loyalty hit a low not seen since 2009. Edmunds analysts predict that by the end of 2018, passenger car loyalty could drop so low that it would match the loyalty level for SUVs during the Cash for Clunkers period, a drop of 15% in just 10 years. "We're heading into one of the most transformative periods in the automotive industry, and instability in the short term could severely jeopardize automaker success further down the line," said Caldwell. "Sales are cooling off from record highs, and the abundance of offerings on the market has created a new reality where nameplate loyalty no longer holds the same weight. It's going to be a delicate balance for automakers as they face the immediate challenge of keeping customers in the fold while also anticipating the demands of the future." To read the full report, visit the Edmunds Industry Center . About Edmunds Edmunds is the leading car information and shopping platform, helping millions of visitors each month find their perfect car. The company also hosts a 20-year-old forums community that connects members to other car shoppers and enthusiasts. The company is regarded as one of America's best workplaces by Fortune and Great Place to Work. Edmunds is based in Santa Monica, California, and has a satellite office in downtown Detroit, Michigan. Media Contact Talia James, Edmunds, 310-309-4900,  PR@edmunds.com