by Nathan Cooper, Product Marketing Manager

None of us likes to lose a customer. In my experience, it is always good to reflect on why you lost them and all too often, in my experience, we fail to ensure the customer knows how valuable, indeed indispensable, we are.

On learning that a customer is going elsewhere, the emotion is often disappointment, frustration, or anger. However, all is not lost; the critical question is, why did the customer leave? There is no place for emotion in this assessment.

On the B2B side, my experience is a customer leaving is due to price and/or the promise of some added value. Fascinatingly, on numerous occasions, when a customer goes elsewhere, they discover just how indispensable you were. It’s always handy at this point if you haven’t let emotion get the better of you and burn your bridges!

When it comes to car sales, the perception is often, “it’s different for us; we don’t speak to the customer often enough to know they might leave us.”

When it comes to losing a car buying customer, I’m convinced that it often comes down to losing them as an aftersales customer.

The Aftersales Conundrum

I recognise that it can be a long time between car sales. Like any relationship, ‘keeping the fires burning’ requires effort. All the evidence tells us aftersales lose a customer when the warranty expires. In turn this can increase the likelihood of losing them as a car buying customer.

The starting point to winning back customers, has to be making it hard for them to ever want to leave in the first place.

The warranty ‘tipping-point’ is such a prominent reality that it suggests customers feel compelled to stay with a dealer because of the warranty rather than choosing to do so. A starting point to retaining customers has to be considering the use of longer warranties in the initial purchase price of used vehicles where one does not apply. I suspect the cost of adding this would be rewarded in initial sales (customer confidence) and in the longer term relationship it would create.

More strategically, retaining and winning back aftersales customer should centre around two aspects:

  • Consistent TQM processes – people and digital
  • Excelling at every customer touchpoint
      • Take any friction out of the process
      • Optimise MOTs, send the car a birthday card
      • Have a senior manager as a greeter at the early morning drop off/and late PM collection points
      • Always leave a signed thank you card on the dashboard

I’ve added some potentially ‘quirky’ initiatives from my experiences as a customer. Very often, what makes a memorable experience are the small, thoughtful touches. In a world where differentiation and marginal gains matter, what could you do that little bit better to minimise the chance of a customer ever choosing another aftersales or sales supplier?