The aftersales process is critical to all industries, and we have many resources here to help you understand how to make the most of this often neglected but pivotal point in the customer journey: Retain.me focuses on the point of consumption when the customer receives their retail order, Premcom automates a referral and reward program for a leading mortgage company, and Opéra de Montréal engages single-ticket holders five minutes after a performance ends with a membership acquisition campaign. This guest post from UK-based AlphaGraphics NE focuses on the automobile industry and how omnichannel communications can help increase profits after the initial car sale has been completed. The post originally appeared on the AlphaGraphics Automotive Blog. It is republished here with permission.
The automotive aftersales process
The automotive aftersales industry is worth an estimated £99bn in the UK – so getting your aftersales process to be as slick as it possibly can be is crucial.
The average car dealership will hold a whole host of information on-file about is customers. This information might include purchase history, name, address, DOB, finance information and service history – but are dealerships really leveraging all of the information they possibly can to deliver the best aftersales service?
Advanced on-board computing systems have already begun innovating the aftersales process, but mostly to optimise aftersales care – such as servicing, rather than generating warm leads for the sales team.
Onboard computers are increasingly being used to provide dealerships with data about a vehicle’s status ahead of a service – allowing the service department to prepare in advance of the vehicle being booked in, but how else could this level of data be used to improve levels of repeat purchase?
Service improvements are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how data insights can assist with the innovation of the aftersales process.
How can data be used to improve the aftersales process for lead generation?
A combination of in-dealership data, marketing data and data from onboard computers could tell the dealership the following and more:
- Owner demographic
- Owner location / home address / preferred dealer address
- Owner approximate new car budget
- Purchase history (price points and previous frequency of new / used car ownership)
- Approximate trade-in date
- Notes about makes and models of potential interest.
- Vehicle status and condition
- Average mileage
- Fuel consumption
- Driving style.
- Interaction with your brand across channels (are they an ambassador? Or would they shop around?)
- Preferred marketing methods (brochures, website, social media, email)
- Other interests (hobbies and interests)
By combining the above information, the aftersales process can be personalised to perfection.
Aftersales is often carried out effectively by dealerships immediately post-sale, with plenty of customer interaction. However, interaction levels fade over time, leading to customers becoming ‘cold’ close to trade-in time.
Take this working example below which has been made using a combination of in-dealership, on-board computer and marketing data and illustrates how an aftersales process can be used to re-engage a customer ahead of a potential trade in:
Customer A is a male in his 20s, with an annual income ~£30,000. He buys a new car and trades-in every 3yrs. His current car is a compact, he does ~2,000 miles / month and spends approximately £80 each week on fuel. He lives in the outskirts of the city centre and within 10 miles of his preferred dealership. He is a Facebook fan of Renault, Volkswagen and Audi (not brand-loyal), subscribed to the email database and to receive print brochures. Interests include business / networking and golf. His car has been owned for 2 years, is due in for service and your service team are aware of any issues in advance. Knowing the car will be in overnight while parts are ordered.
So, what next? Armed with data, the aftersales process could be:
- Automated text message is sent to confirm service appointment.
- In-dealership team find out how customer is feeling about the car when in the dealership.
- In-dealership team offer the customer the latest model to drive while his car is in for the overnight service. This means he can test drive the latest model for himself and will reveal any pain points / potential interest to trade-in.
- Automated text message is sent to confirm vehicle is ready to collect.
- In-dealership team follow-up with call post-service to find out how the customer got on with the loaned vehicle and gather feedback.
- Automated email and print invitation triggered by dealership team and is sent to customer inviting them to upcoming event (e.g. test drive day or charity golf game).
- Personalised brochure included with event invitation with compact upgrade suggestions of known interest to customer – e.g. loaned model, a diesel and hybrid model to see if there is appetite for a hybrid model with the customer doing so many miles.
- On the day of the event, text message reminder is sent to the customer including details of dedicated in-dealership team member to assist the client on the day (allows sales team to build rapport).
- In-dealership team gather information on the day.
- Re-marketing ads and Facebook promotional campaigns launched to target attending customers online.
- Follow-up thank-you email and note sent from dedicated in-dealership contact (further building sales team rapport).
In the above example, the customer received emails, text-messages, phone calls, printed communications, digital marketing and face-to-face interaction. All of these communications were sent at the appropriate points and are known to be preferred methods of communication for the customer. Each communication also contained a level of personalisation – from understanding how the customer uses his vehicle to demonstrating an awareness of his hobbies and interests.
Thinking of the aftersales process as both an aftersales process and pre-sales process is a trick many dealerships are missing. Using cross-channel data and personalising the experience can pay dividends in terms of repeat customers.