More and more research is focusing on the importance of tapping into the customer lifecycle. The upshot is that customer lifecycle management is a critical customer retention approach that applies to all industries.

The Executive Connection explains it this way, “The sale doesn’t end when the customer leaves with a product, or the purchase has taken place; it’s what happens before, during and after the sales process that leaves a customer coming back for more.”

Solutions, such as personal microsites or online self-service, offer unique opportunities for managing the entire customer lifecycle in a way that can include information across disparate touch points — from the brand, the finance company and the dealer.

The technology exists and is available to implement a solution. Business rule engines combined with other enabling technologies can deliver well-timed, personally relevant information designed to drive customer behavior and satisfaction.

Our clients understand the value of customer lifecycle management as a strategy; yet they struggle with busting organizational silos to achieve the goal. The truth is that the biggest challenges with building a customer lifecycle communication plan are more cultural and political than technical.

If companies can overcome the internal barriers, customer retention research offers a rich trove of actionable insights. An added bonus — customers are more than willing to provide their own retention tips.

Below are insights from two different vehicle owner surveys. The data reveals what customers say makes a difference. This is the information they feel is relevant. It is the information that prompts them to buy again.

IHS/AutoAlert, Shorten the Trade Cycle to Sell More Vehicles, September 2015

  • 69 percent said it was “very important or somewhat important” for their dealership to contact them when they can upgrade their vehicle — if it does not impact their monthly payment.
  • 57 percent want to be notified at key ownership points, such as when the warranty is near expiration or when the trade-in value either declines or is at a premium level.
  • 49 percent said they were unaware that they could upgrade their vehicle before the lease or loan term is up.
  • 75 percent said they would be very likely or somewhat likely to trade in their vehicle today if their monthly payment remained about the same.

J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Customer Service Index Study

  • Satisfaction is substantially higher among customers who work with the same service advisor each time they visit the dealership.
  • 45 percent of customers say they are unaware that Internet scheduling is available.
  • Satisfaction is 46 points higher when a dealer offers a pre-paid maintenance contract.
  • Auto dealers that embrace technology deliver a more satisfying sales experience.

A personal microsite is designed to deliver the ultimate experience and can make these insights actionable. It is also quite easy to offer these items in a solution. Here a 3 types of information a personal microsite can include:

 1.  Proactive alerts from brands on behalf of dealers based on where customers are in the ownership cycle.

  • Incorporate dealer inventory, pre approvals and equity offers in all post purchase customer communications.
  • Include dealer service offers in customer communications.
  • Promote, in a prominent way, online appointment scheduling services.
  • Share a photo and information about the owner’s service advisor alongside service reminders.
  • Prompt customers, on behalf of the dealer, when critical services need to be completed to maintain their warranty, such as powertrain inspections.
  • Display warranty expiration notices that encourage customers to come in for one last check before the warranty ends and that encourage customers to consider a vehicle service contract.

2.  Financial information relevant to the next purchase.

  • Partner messages with the monthly payment amount, display images of the new vehicles in the dealer inventory that customers can buy for the same monthly payment. Include a call to action in the caption: Buy now and keep your payment the same!
  • Indicate when the customer is eligible for an upgrade.
  • Display their vehicle’s potential trade-in value.

3.  Consumer education tips on how to:

  • Prepare the vehicle so they can obtain the best trade-in price.
  • Avoid or minimize extra lease-end fees and charges.

We already know that customer retention increases when an automotive company integrates elements of dealership data. Automotive OEM’s that focus on the customer lifecycle can increase retention and loyalty. Today’s technology is ready to deliver the ownership experiences customers want and need.

Is your organization ready and willing to combine efforts across the silos?