In almost every aspect of your dealership, you calculate ROI. Whether you’re looking at your ad spend, calculating labor costs or analyzing your digital marketing, the first, and last, thing you think about is ROI. How is my spending this money going to help me make more money? At times, we choose unwisely and discover that after the fact. Steps are then taken to rectify and adjust that money. However, ROI isn’t the only thing you should be considering.
“Return on Relationship™ (ROR), simply put, is the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship, whereas ROI is simple dollars and cents. ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations and sharing, and is used to define and educate companies, brands, and people about the importance of creating authentic connection, interaction, and engagement.”
According to Mashable, based on a study by Forrester Research, “70% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends, but only 10% trust advertising…” Engaging your customers and connecting with them on an emotional level through genuine interaction will, over time, generate loyalty. A referral can bring a sale and also give you the opportunity to generate a loyal customer.
Building ROR isn’t always easy and certainly isn’t quick. Unfortunately, there’s an inherent distrust that exists between consumers and car dealers. As I wrote in a previous blog, being different makes a difference. You have to prove yourself to the customer over time and be consistent in your actions. Not only do you have to prove yourself to your current customers – whether that’s in your service drive or the customer sitting in front of you buying a car – but you also have to prove yourself to potential customers. These are the customers that are browsing the Internet reading review sites. By being responsive to customer complaints and concerns, and doing so publicly on these sites, you will show these potential customers that you care and be one step closer to earning their business before you even knew there was business to earn.
Here are a few things you can start doing to build ROR in your dealership.
Be genuine – People can tell whether you are being patronizing or are genuinely sympathetic to their needs, wants or concerns. Pay attention to what a customer is telling you and respond in a genuine manner. Do whatever it takes to satisfy the customer no matter how difficult they may be to deal with.
Recognize Your Customers – This actually covers two types of recognition. The first being that you make an effort to get to know them. There’s nothing that impresses consumers more than walking into any business they frequent and being greeted by name. This simple thing instills a feeling of gratitude and makes a customer feel important. The second is the recognition that involves giving back to them to thank them for their business. This can be accomplished through special offers for frequent customers or through loyalty programs. There’s no better way to thank your customer for their business than by rewarding them.
Empower Your Employees – You can’t be everywhere at the same time. I’ve written about this before and shown how the most successful companies allow their employees to be problem solvers when an issue with a customer arises. Trust your employees to resolve the problem immediately rather than making them jump through hoops. Someone I know shared that in their dealership, nobody answers the phone with the standard “Hi, thank you for calling X dealership, this is Bob, How can I help you?” but rather they altered their greeting to say “Hi, thank you for calling X dealership, I can help you.” This simple transformation of a word track lets the customer know that they aren’t going to be transferred a million times to get their problem solved. The employee who answers that call is tasked with staying with the customer until either their problem is solved or they are connected with the appropriate person.
Building loyal customers is not unlike building a house. You need the right materials and a strong foundation. By doing it properly, you can weather any storm that comes your way.
Statistics show that a customer who has a good experience will tell 4 to 5 people. However, a customer who has a bad experience will tell more than 20. In addition, they will usually leave a negative review to go with that word of mouth to leave a permanent finger pointed at your dealership in a bad way.
Maintaining your online reputation is crucial to new customers and previous customers deciding whether to make you their choice. If you don’t manage complaints and deal with them effectively, you are losing what could be a loyal customer and preventing prospects from ever becoming loyal customers.
But maintaining that reputation doesn’t start online, it starts at your dealership with each and every customer.
Here are 6 Tips to Maintaining a Great Online Reputation:
1. Have someone assigned to monitoring your review sites.
It is important to know what is being said about you in the digital world. By knowing when a negative review is posted, you can have someone handle the complaint immediately, and hopefully have the customer revise their complaint into a compliment, (preferably BEFORE anyone sees the complaint).
2. Know How to Handle Complaints.
Everyone in your dealership should be able to “manage” their own complaints. If you are the only one equipped to handle complaints, this may monopolize your time, thus eliminating the time needed for planning, strategizing and development your department and your dealership.
3. Prevent Negative Reviews with Great Follow-Up.
A follow-up phone call should be made to each and every customer 24 hours after their purchase or service visit to make sure that they are completely satisfied. It is important that the person making these calls have the authority and knowledge to handle complaints and who to assign a customer to should they need to return. Having a minimum wage college student handle this for you may actually cause more miscommunication and dissatisfaction in the long run. Put someone in place that understands how a dealership runs and has a strict guideline for how to handle a complaint.
4. Give Great Customer Service.
I know this one should be a given, but I want to emphasize that great customer service includes knowledge, honesty, quality and sincerity. You can’t just put a smile on your face and expect people to worship you. You have to know your product so that you can answer their questions and gain their trust. Be sincere and let them know that you are there to help them, not rip them off. When you are not sincere, it shows and makes the customer leery.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Positive Review.
A lot of customers don’t even know that you have a review site or even think to post a review unless they are upset. Asking a satisfied customer to post a quick comment about why they love your dealership will give your online reputation a huge boost. Whoever you have making your follow-up calls could request this, or if you have a follow-up email created to go out to customers you could include a link in the email to make it easier for the customer. But it is important that if you include this in an email that you give the customer the option to voice a complaint. This can be a link that will allow them to submit a complaint to the General Manager. Otherwise, only having a link to POST a review could lead to more damage.
6. Know How to Handle a Negative Review.
When a negative review is posted, you need to do damage control and FAST. Before you contact the customer, do your research.
Who was the advisor and technician or salesperson?
What did they purchase or what service did they have done?
Will they need to return to the dealership?
How long have they been a customer?
When you contact the customer you should know and anticipate what they will say, want and need. Your ONLY goal should be to please that customer, not defend your dealership.
In conclusion, by preparing for complaints and negative reviews and knowing what to do to prevent negative reviews and unsatisfied customers, you will be able to proactively manage and build your online reputation to secure a life long supply of loyal customers.
We would like to know what strategies you have in place to build your online reputation and what you would recommend to our followers. What have you done to build your online reputation?