In the auto service industry repeat business is paramount to success. The higher the customer retention rate the greater long term success will be. Therefore ongoing relationship management is critical. To assume everything is OK because there are no apparent problems is a sure way to allow business to deteriorate. Efforts at improving customer relations should be ongoing. In simple terms the customer lifecycle evolves from marketing to sales to service and support. Tightly related to the customer lifecycle is the customer perspective. A customer can evolve from prospect to customer to loyal partner to advocate. The customer perspective is directly affected by their experience with the service provider. So continuously seeking to improve the customer’s experience will result in a greater number of loyal partners and advocates. Doing nothing will have the opposite effect.
The Customer Lifecycle
Although after the first time a customer is acquired their relationship is primarily one of service and support the lifecycle is repeated in a microcosm each time there is an engagement. So focusing on the stages of the lifecycle and understanding the customer perspective at each stage is the key to providing premium service. Marketing efforts directed at existing customers should add to the relationship not detract from or interfere with it. Sales efforts should do the same. And the best way to determine this is to stay in tune with the customer. This can be done directly or indirectly. It’s sometimes very easy to interpret a customer’s reaction to marketing or sales efforts. Sometimes it’s not so easy. The key point is that feedback is important. Understanding the customer point of view will allow the right image to be built.
The Customer Perspective
A loyal customer is extremely valuable. A customer advocate is priceless. Not only will a customer advocate continue to give you their business, they’ll also encourage other people to use your services. Nothing instills credibility like a recommendation from a trusted friend. A person will become a loyal customer if all expectations are met, service is reliable and perceived value is in line with price. A customer will become an advocate if they’re able to influence the quality of service they receive in a positive way. If the issues they feel are the most important are addressed in a way that satisfies the customer they will sense a connection to the business. And these are the people that can be the most influential in persuading others in a positive way. Understanding the customer perspective and taking advantage of the signals provided will lead to the best possible relationships.
The Reflection is Your Image
A company’s image is reflected in its customer’s perception. The experience of the customer defines what a business is. Staying in tune with the customer and understanding their point of view will build stronger and more positive relationships. Acting on the messages received from customers will ensure growth and success.