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Motor retail is lagging behind other sectors in customer engagement - a guest opinion

Andrew Jackson, head of relationships and sales, CPP UK

For a sector that invests so much into marketing their products and brand investment, with TV often being dominated by adverts for new cars or services to help sell, insure or buy a new car, it’s surprising to see how quickly this level of engagement with customers fades once a purchase has been made.

Buyers have never been so empowered. They can research and configure online, they can finance and insure without speaking to another human, so when it comes to dealer interaction, they’ve almost made their minds up and increasingly just want to transact.

Given the prevalence of PCP within retail, the whole experience is becoming commoditised and the customer is put into a spin cycle that finishes in 36 months’ time. The opportunity for long-term engagement is being washed away by the very mechanisms that are meant to reinforce it.

But outside of a dealer’s aftersales efforts, engagement drops off quickly and is in stark contrast to other sectors which are consistently looking to up the touchpoints, maintain the relationship and build an ongoing loyalty – even if the experience sometimes feels stilted.

The telecoms industry is a great example. Once a customer has signed up to a 24-month contract and has their shiny new phone, providers go to great lengths to continue to engage with users and understand their needs. Whether it’s O2’s Priority Club offer or Sky’s VIP loyalty scheme, the continued contact is more about keeping them front of mind than selling the next handset.

Driving loyalty and retention doesn’t need to be complicated but it does rely on maintaining a presence in customers’ lives, whether that’s regular and consistent messaging to reinforce brand, moving into their mobile lives through an app that engages with them or solving an everyday problem that your customers have, such as our Smart Key Protection, a branded Bluetooth key fob and mobile app to help your customers avoid losing their keys.

Embedding useful functionality within an app increases a brand’s opportunity to communicate, upsell and cross-sell useful aftersales products – whether that’s pushing service reminders or helping stay front-of-mind for routine maintenance.

Keeping an app fundamental to the benefits of a product provides dealers with another channel for increasing customer contact customers. It reinforces previous experiences and gives another opportunity to draw the user in the dealers’ fold.

There’s no silver bullet to driving engagement and optimising customer loyalty but at a time when market fragmentation seems to be accelerating, taking simple steps across your existing customer base is a great starting point.

Author: Andrew Jackson, head of relationships and sales, CPP UK

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