Fixed Operations Follow-Up Translates To Increased Profits

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Harlene Doane - Also by this author

If your follow-up after the sale of a vehicle ends with a CSI survey, you are losing thousands of dollars per customer. Without customer interaction, your customers will go elsewhere for service and future sales. Customer interaction doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but it’s not free. There is always cost involved. It’s in the purchase and upkeep of the system, and it’s in labor cost to run or oversee it. However the cost involved is minimal when comparing it to increased customer interaction which directly translates to increased profits.

A great system, both process and software, will allow you to offer much more than service reminders. It should track any customer information that would result in additional maintenance work over the life of the vehicle or additional sales opportunities like lease or warranty expirations.

“Exactly the right personalized message at exactly the right time should be the most important aspect of any relationship program,” states Phillip Whalen, president of OnStation. “Every communication with your customer should have a personalized message driving a specific response attached to a specific special.”

“If your customer has purchased a new vehicle and you have captured, through training your staff well, their e-mail address, you have the ability to effectively and efficiently communicate with that customer for life,” said Whalen. Service reminders should be sent via e-mail with coupons that the customer can print and use. Seasonal maintenance specials can be sent with little dealership assistance and you should be able to target specific customers within your database.

How much sooner would an owner react if they received a personalized e-mail from your dealership regarding a manufacturers’ recall and how it affects their vehicle? A specific special tied to the recall might be a priority appointment time or a free transportation voucher.

How effective is this e-mail process? Recently a Bay Area dealer implemented a program offered by OnStation. It took a few days to populate several thousand missing e-mail addresses within their database, however the day after they went live and sent their first e-mail communication, they had 24 online appointments set. That is power and effectiveness of e-mail communication if done properly.

Thank you’s and CSI surveys should be completed as soon after the customer leaves the dealership as possible. A very inexpensive, non-confrontation method for this is a simple e-mail, fully automated and personalized. The survey is sent the same day the customer receives the service work, which is when they are most likely to be dissatisfied.

A great system will receive the response and flag any responses that fall outside of acceptable parameters for an immediate alert to the service manager. This enables the service manager to immediately address any concern, thereby increasing customer satisfaction.

Including the fixed operations side of your business in your customer relationship management program from the beginning or by adding it to an existing program is proven to increase customer retention, lower ad cost and increase profits for all departments.

Vol 2, Issue 7

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