The Impact of Social Media on Vehicle (and Dealership) Brand Loyalty
It’s All About Social Media
In the past, when someone was looking to buy a car they’d simply go to the dealership and talk with a salesperson. Or they’d subscribe to a service like Consumer Reports to try and get some “inside information.”
Following that, radio programs, television shows, magazines, and other automotive mediums cropped up and gave buyers more tools to make informed decisions. Then it was all about websites —both from the manufacturers and the dealerships.
According to a recent study conducted by Digital Air Strike that surveyed 2,000 car buyers and 2,000 service customers, 75 percent of car buyers and 68 percent of service customers said internet and social media research was their preferred medium when selecting a car dealership.
On top of that, 83 percent of service customers said online sites substantially helped them in their dealership selection process, and 50 percent of car buyers and 69 percent of service customers said they only visited one dealership before buying or servicing.
Your customers are on social media, so you probably should be too. And “being on social media” means so much more than posting pictures of cars and highlighting promotions. It’s about building your brand.
When we say brand, we mean YOUR brand. If you’re Miller Jones Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM, you need to focus your social media branding and marketing around “Miller Jones,” not “Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM.”
A great way to utilize social media is to tie it into your sales and service experiences, showing customers how you take care of them before, during, and after they purchase.
And when you have an effective Complimentary Maintenance Program in place, it’s even easier to sing those praises.
Here are some tips on how franchise auto dealers can take advantage of social media.
Turn Negatives Into Positives
It’s no secret: consumers are far more likely to complain on social media about bad experiences then they will be to praise and exult the good ones. This is a common behavior that you simply cannot change. But you can use it to your advantage.
When you take time to personally respond to negative reviews or comments on social media — and show that you’re actively taking steps to rectify the situation — not only will the customer be at ease and feel valued, other people who visit the site will see that you take customer service seriously. Never ignore negative comments and/or chalk them up to a bad day or an unreasonable customer. You may be in the right, but remember, the customer is always right (even when they’re wrong). If you don’t address negative comments, all people will see is bad reviews and a dealership that doesn’t care.
Tell Your Own Story
If you make your customers happy, they’ll keep coming back and they’ll refer you to your friends. Maybe they even will post their positive experiences to your social media pages. But if they don’t, there’s no reason you can’t do a little self-promotion.
Again, don’t just post about the great deals you’re offering. Engage with people and show them how you provide value. Here are some ideas:
- Do you have an amazing Complimentary Maintenance Program? Show people how they can benefit from it.
- Got a great customer loyalty program? Highlight the incentives customers can receive, even after their Complimentary Maintenance Plan expires.
- Do you have beautiful amenities, complimentary refreshments, free Wi-Fi access, and/or a designated play area for children? Show people what they look like and how they can take advantage.
- Got amazing salespeople and technicians? Post their profiles and/or videos of them in action so customers can see that you’re real people, not just another faceless dealership looking to make a sale.
Bottom line, customer experience is the lifeline of your business. The worst thing a dealership can do is institute a customer retention program —such as a Certified Maintenance® Complimentary Maintenance Program— and then provide poor customer experiences (such as service advisors taking too long to get their job done or being rude and unfriendly). If the customer drives away feeling like a burden, chances are they won’t return for their second or third maintenance visit, even if it is already paid for.
Not only that, they’ll be more than willing to post their negative experiences on social media. But if you do things the right way, you can take advantage of social media to delight, attract, and retain customers.
There are plenty of ways to promote your dealership and share your unique offerings with potential customers via social media outlets. In the followingvideo, we show how a Complimentary Maintenance Program can be paired with social media,email campaignsand existing advertising effortsto get the word out and drive customers down the road to retention. Learn how tobridge the gap between sales and service and give EVERY customer a reason to return to your dealership for service.Watch this video to find out how.