Get your customers selling for you

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“The goal of social media is to turn your customers into a volunteer marketing army.”
– Jay Baer, author, The NOW Revolution

The most-profitable new customers come from referrals by your existing customers. Your job with social media is to get your customers talking about you, and engaging with your parts and service experience.

Managing social media well does wonders for your online reputation too. When you turn your customers into a volunteer marketing army, you can keep a steady stream of word-of-mouth referrals coming into your store.

Let’s talk about something that isn’t new: customer retention. On average, it costs about seven times more to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one. Most fixed ops departments maintain a valuable customer database and many don’t use it to its full potential. These customers have bought from you before, some many times over. What better group to start with in recruiting your army?

Even though fixed ops departments are brick and mortar establishments, fixed ops managers are recognizing that social commerce has a substantial affect on their sales. Thanks to social media and online ratings sites, customers are connected and they share experiences like never before. Parts and service managers must now use social media to grow and interact with their customers. Get those customers talking about what it’s like doing business with you.

THE PROOF IS IN YOUR PROCESS
What percentage of your overall marketing budget is dedicated to customer retention strategies?

In a recent post from The Social CMO, Steve Olenski spotlights a recent survey that said 60 per cent of responding businesses dedicate less than 20 per cent of their budget to customer retention. The way people buy and service cars has changed more in the past three years than in the prior 50 and actions must be taken as a consequence of that change. It’s a dance between you, your customer and the technology that facilitates your communication.

Start with internal communication. Examine how your current process welcomes a customer to engage with you — online or offline. What would an ideal process look like in your department? You need to develop:

• Trained front-line personnel consistently aware of opportunities to engage your customer;
• Employees immersed in the proper language of asking for online “referrals;”
• Programs to motivate, recognize and reward employees for achieving marketing and online ratings goals; and
• Customer appreciation as part of your culture.

WELCOME EMPLOYEE PARTICIPATION
What percentage of your employees are focused on driving customer retention?

With the rise of social customers, who have no problem expressing their opinions online, it’s even more important now to make sure your employees are trained and up to speed. Social media is part marketing, part advertising, a dash of PR and good size helping of customer service. Writing content, listening, engaging and executing the strategies around all of these components requires a kingpin — a “Community Manager.”  That employee will be the liaison between you, your customer and your staff.

Enlist front line staff. They are the ones who talk to your customers every day. Heck, some of your staff are probably already becoming online influencers in their own right. Seek out the ones who have a true passion for it and leverage that. Provide education to fill in the missing pieces to the puzzle. Social media marketing is driven by awesome content and your staff has access to it everyday through your customer’s contributions.

Integrate your social media with training. Every team member on the front lines is a representative of your brand.  Build your team as though they have the potential and opportunity to nurture the customer base you’re trying to build —because they do! It’s about recognition: appreciate your staff and your customers for their contributions. It keeps them connected, enthusiastic and vocal.

ENGAGE WITH YOUR FANS
Now here’s where the rubber meets the road. Building your volunteer marketing army requires attention paid to every transaction, indeed every interaction, that happens with your customer and honouring it with appreciation. You want them to want to talk about you.

Your fixed ops operation already has an integral foundation for building customer retention and satisfaction and now is the time to build on it. Use social media to attract your repeat customers. Engage them in conversations. Ask for their contributions. You have the power — now it’s time to exercise it.

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