Auto buyers consider many factors, both logical and emotional, when they’re determining whether or not they will purchase a vehicle. Outside of the car itself, the most critical factor is their relationship with the dealership they’re purchasing from.
The customer-dealer relationship should just be beginning when customers drive off the lot in their new car. The dealerships that truly win and bring back repeat customers are the ones that extend the relationship with their customers through a personalized approach.
Today, personalization begins and ends with mobile devices. According to a study by Accenture, 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history. Furthermore, Websitebuilder.org found that 37% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a mobile-optimized site.
Yet, despite overwhelming evidence of the importance of mobile and connecting with consumers on a personal level, some dealership service departments still lag behind.
Service departments that aren’t making use of mobile marketing to build or extend the relationship with their customers should take a step back and examine how shoppers typically browse when looking for products or service providers.
Whereas consumers might have gone to their desktops for research in the past, mobile is currently the more popular method for research and has been for the past two years, according to Google. It’s also an always-available option compared to a desktop that requires a consumer to be at home.
The real question dealers need to ask themselves: “Why would we limit our opportunities to connect with customers by ignoring the channel where they are most active?”
Outside of getting consumers into the dealership, service departments often don’t take advantage of how mobile marketing can improve parts and service sales, as well as customer satisfaction.
There’s a huge opportunity to build deeper personal relationships with customers through mobile, and it is that personal service that can make customers feel heard—and be the difference between a repeat customer and a one-time customer.
For example, customers who receive personal messages about their cars every few months will keep the dealership top of mind, and are more likely to be back for service. All dealership service departments have the capability to engage with consumers in this fashion, but not all of them take the steps necessary to do so.
Another important component to consider is that the service site needs to have a true online service scheduler that links directly to an online calendar—not requiring human intervention unless the customer desires it.
Mobile design and execution are critical here. If this aspect of a dealership’s website is not mobile-optimized, it risks losing customers completely if they get frustrated while trying to set and confirm an appointment.
Consumers are accustomed to living in a mobile-friendly world, so the more seamlessly dealers can integrate into that world, the more success they’ll enjoy.
Finally, text messaging has been overlooked by most dealership service departments as the best process to secure customers’ approval of cost estimates and let them know when their vehicle is ready to pick up.
Of course, venturing into text as a communication link requires securing customer approval at the time of the service write-up. The majority of customers, however, not only feel comfortable communicating with service departments via text, but prefer it because they know they’ll see the message quickly and easily, and are more inclined to respond more quickly as well.
Brands are connecting with consumers on a more personal level than ever before, and it’s paying big dividends. The longer dealership service departments ignore the mobile channel, the more out of sync they will be with the customers they’re serving.
There are tremendous opportunities and benefits to connecting with customers regularly and personally, so it’s time for dealership service departments that don’t connect personally to move out of the past and into the present with the rest of the auto industry. Otherwise, their customers will leave them for dealers that do.
Don Scheich has worked in automotive marketing for 46 years, including stints with Monroe Auto Equipment and BBDO Detroit, where he oversaw the Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler Credit, and Mopar businesses. Don joined Latcha + Associates in 2009, and he currently provides strategic insight for the agency’s accounts.0
Latest posts by Don Scheich
- Why Mobile Marketing Is a Must in the Service Department - September 20, 2017