Finally the customer relationship side of this industry is getting the attention it deserves. It took a recession to make it happen, but there’s great learning that comes from it: the importance of strong customer retention.
If you don’t already have a valuable, efficient, and consistent customer retention program in place, you’re leaving customers (and money) on the table. Not to mention, your manufacturer is leaving parts sales and future customers on the table as well.
We’ve seen it all before…dealers think they’ll save money, so they bring their retention efforts in-house with an ad hoc mail, call, or email program. Dealers cut expenses by simply blasting customers occasionally with generic email offerings, leaving any thought of data analytics and targeting (and its economic benefits) behind. Remember, your CRM program has to be smart, targeted, measurable, and relevant. Your customers are savvy and their needs are changing, they want to be talked to individually, not en-masse. To keep them you must treat them right, respect their needs and desires, but that’s another article.
For now, let’s talk about the seven questions you should ask yourself about your current program. If it doesn’t include these components, rethink it.
1. Are you relevant? Even the best communication is useless if it’s delivered to the wrong customer at the wrong time, or with the wrong content. How strong are your CRM’s data analytics?
2. Do you use your given powers? The highest performing customer communications are those that leverage the power of a strong brand. Are you using your brand equity? Are you tying in with national and regional promotions? If you’re fortunate enough have it, tie your dealer communications in with your manufacturer’s communications.
3. Does your CRM provider have a proven track record? If you’re considering a new CRM company, what is their scorecard, how many dealers are currently on their program, how is it working? Check references, you’ll be thankful later.
4. Is there field representation? What kind of ongoing service assistance does your CRM program provide? Will you get monthly consultative visits, someone to tell you what’s working, what’s not—what to fine tune? Someone to walk you through your results, or help you understand your regional market?
5. Are you using what you’re paying for? Know exactly what you’re paying for. Are you paying a bundled monthly price, yet you never use some components? Why pay a per user fee in months when your activity drops?
6. Is the proof in the pudding? Look for results; get response reporting; let the program prove it’s working. Question the way your ROI and response rates are calculated, a good CRM program will be able to verify its value.
7. Are you tied up in a contract? Watch for long-term contracts, have an out, don’t get stuck in a program that makes it difficult for you to cancel. If a program works, it should stand on its own effectiveness, or you don’t need it.
Once you’re satisfied that you’ve addressed these seven questions regarding your current CRM program, you’ve got a good start to a comprehensive customer retention program. It’s an important effort, one that is sure to pay solid dividends over next few years while we wait for sales to take the spotlight again.
Stan Megerdichian is a co-founder of Peak Performance and a pioneer in Customer Relationship Management and one- to-one marketing. For more information call 800-888-0024.
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