I’ll say it until I’m out of breath: we need to talk about customer retention just as much as we talk about bringing in new business. There’s a wide variety of reasons why your customers might decide to start taking their business elsewhere. But at the end of the day it’s all about communication, setting expectations, sticking to the process. You have to make the most out of every customer interaction. That means treating them with genuine kindness, not shying away from suggested recommended maintenance, and impressing them with your professionalism.
We’ve laid out some of the common reasons why customers leave before, but I wanted to do an updated list this week to stress the importance of the topic. Customer retention has to one of, if not your biggest priority.
10 Reasons Why Your Customers Leave:
- NO PARTS, NO CALL – It can be a struggle to get certain parts in, I know it. But that process has to be handled with effective communication. You need to keep your customers updated on when those parts arrive and how long it’ll take to get their car back in working order. If they’re calling you looking for updates, you’re not communicating effectively.
- YOU’RE BOOKED OUT 3 WEEKS – If you can’t see a customer within the next week, they’re going to take their business elsewhere. More often than not, you simply just don’t have enough technicians to keep things moving. And you’re going to be stuck in this situation until you hire more. Double your recruiting efforts or the problem will only get worse.
- TECHNOLOGY OVERLOAD – Keep communication simple and use text messaging. If you’re reaching out over email, phone, AND text, you’re getting in your own way. I think just sticking to text messaging is always going to be your best best. It’s the preferred method of communication for the majority of customers, so cater to that preference.
- NOT SETTING THE NEXT APPOINTMENT – This is perhaps one of the most important recommendations I can give. You need to get the next appointment on the books before your customer leaves. Whether’s it’s six months out or a year, you need to get them on the books. You’ll help yourself out in so many ways.
- THE THREAT OF INDEPENDENTS – It’s important to remember that independent shops get all of their business from marketing. They go after it pretty aggressively, and you should too. In this day and age, we can’t just rest on our laurels and expect the current pipeline to stay steady forever. Plan for the future. Start getting those promos out there.
- WISHY WASHY WILLY – This silly name is what Christian calls advisors that tell customers what they need, but then pull back. If you can recommend maintenance, you should. It’s really just that simple. Don’t sell from your own wallet, as I always say. You never want to assume that a customer can’t pay for something. Remember that it’s always better to prevent issues ahead of time.
- EXPRESS TRAIN TO NOWHERE – As a general rule of thumb, don’t promise anything that you can’t fulfill. And by that principle, you just can’t advertise Express service if you can’t actually provide it. Express needs to actually mean Express. I know it can be tempting to provide Express as an attractive amenity, but you don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot.
- “WE THRIVE IN CHAOS.” – A lot of people think that chaos is just part of the business, and that they even thrive in that environment. That should never be the case. We need to stop promoting that ideology in the service drive. Think about it from the customer’s point of view. If your environment looks chaotic to them, they’re going to move on.
- YOU ONLY GET ONE AT BAT – This philosophy kind of encompasses the whole list. It’s a mentality more than anything. Most of the time, a car only comes in once a year for service, so you really only have one chance to impress them. Treat every customer interaction with that sense of vitality and urgency. That frame of mind is absolutely essential.
- MAKING TRANSACTIONS, NOT FRIENDS – Dealerships still see service as a necessary evil a lot of the time. They treat customers like cattle. I know that it can be tricky to stay focused on customer experience day in and day out. But that attention to detail is what truly separates good from great. And trust me, it makes the job a lot more fun.
It’s Time To Prioritize Customer Retention
There are plenty of other reasons why customers might leave you and never come back. But I think this list offers a pretty comprehensive rundown of the most common issues. At the end of the day, you need to be communicating consistently and effectively with your customers to increase retention. You also have to get ahead of the competition by marketing aggressively, and you need to treat every interaction with care. Most of the time, you really only get one chance to make a lasting impression.