The automotive sector needs to find ways to engage with customers outside renewal periods if it ever wants to build loyalty

Andrew Jackson, head of relationships and sales for CPP UK New Business, explains why he thinks the automotive sector is lagging behind other sectors when it comes to driving customer engagement and retention.

By Andrew Jackson, head of sales & relationships CPP UK new business

For a sector that invests so much into marketing their products and brand investment, with TV often being dominated by adverts for new cars or services to help sell, insure or buy a new car, it’s surprising to see how quickly this level of engagement with customers fades once a purchase has been made.

CPP Group donuts

“Buyers have never been so empowered. They can research and configure online, they can finance and insure without speaking to another human, so when it comes to dealer interaction, they’ve almost made their minds up and increasingly just want to transact.”

PCP within retail

Given the prevalence of PCP within retail, the whole experience is becoming commoditised and the customer is put into a spin cycle that finishes in 36 months’ time. The opportunity for long-term engagement is being washed away by the very mechanisms that are meant to reinforce it.

But outside of a dealer’s aftersales efforts, engagement drops off quickly and is in stark contrast to other sectors which are consistently looking to up the touchpoints, maintain the relationship and build an ongoing loyalty – even if the experience sometimes feels stilted.

The telecoms industry is a great example. Once a customer has signed up to a 24-month contract and has their shiny new phone, providers go to great lengths to continue to engage with users and understand their needs. Whether it’s O2’s Priority Club offer or SKY’s VIP loyalty scheme, the continued contact is more about keeping them front of mind than selling the next handset.

Driving loyalty & retention

Driving loyalty and retention doesn’t need to be complicated but it does rely on maintaining a presence in customers’ lives, whether that’s regular and consistent messaging to reinforce brand, moving into their mobile lives through an app that engages with them or solving an everyday problem that your customers have.

It’s approaching these challenges that led us to develop Smart Key Protection. With more than 72 million sets of car keys in circulation in the UK, and a quarter of people admitting having locked keys in their car, they are a great way to engage with your customers.

Not only this, but over 10,000 sets end up in the bin each year, costing UK consumers £180 million, with every motorist spending a few moments each day looking for their car keys, even if they’re not lost.

Smart Key Protection

Smart Key Protection is a branded, Bluetooth key fob and a mobile app to help motorists avoid losing their keys. It tracks the last known location of the keys and rewards people for returning ones they have found to their rightful owner. In the worst-case scenario and keys are lost, consumers can also access a 24/7 locksmith service through the app.

It’s a simple but effective solution. Customers engage with their car keys and their phones daily and linking the two is a perfect way to reinforce brand presence with a practical solution to solve a problem.

And embedding useful functionality within an app increases a brand’s opportunity to communicate, upsell and cross-sell useful aftersales products – whether that’s pushing service reminders or helping stay front-of-mind for routine maintenance.

The integral nature of the app being fundamental to the benefits of a product like Smart Key Protection provides dealers with another channel for increasing customer contact customers. It reinforces previous experiences and gives another opportunity to draw the user in the dealers’ fold.

There’s no silver bullet to driving engagement and optimising customer loyalty but at a time when market fragmentation seems to be accelerating, taking simple steps across your existing customer base is a great starting point.

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