What proportion of your customers could you class as true advocates for your business? During the most recent downturn in the new car market, a lot of emphasis was placed on retaining customers and building loyalty by improving service levels and offering greater value. Now could be the time to enlist those loyal customers in promoting your business and helping you to find buyers for the increasing number of new and used cars coming to the market.
You will know from their CSI survey returns that your customers have had a good experience, so how can you encourage them to become an advocate for your dealership?
Advocacy is the dark art of getting someone to recommend you to other people. The trick is to make them feel positive about your dealership and hope they spread the word; that the world has fallen in love with sharing content on Facebook and Twitter does make life easier in this regard.
It can start from the moment the customer has been handed the keys to their new car. With customer Wi-Fi now a feature in many showrooms and most franchised dealers operating social media accounts, it is a relatively easy win to ask delighted customers if they’ll pose for a photo and then encourage them to share their new car handover experience with their friends.
Such social media activity will pay dividends. According to Auto Trader market research director Nick King, research has shown that if a business has 59 ‘Likes’ on Facebook, it has a potential audience of 25,000, because each of the 59 has a wider network of friends.
Since March 1, Ridgeway Group’s dealerships have shared with its 6,000 Twitter followers dozens of pictures of handovers of 15-plate cars to their happy owners. Social media forms an integral part of the group’s marketing strategy, said group marketing manager Philip Deacon, and Ridgeway encourages customers to engage and spread the word about their experience.
Tim Smith, group strategy director for digital marketing company GForces, said in the past, customer advocacy was by word of mouth.
“The advent of digital has meant much of that has moved online, and a large part of it is social media. But it’s not just about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest – it’s anywhere there can be a two-way conversation.”
The growth in use of third-party consumer review websites such as Feefo, Reevoo, JudgeService and MotorCodes means dealers can easily encourage their customers to sing the praises of their dealership to hundreds of potential new customers.