When it comes to running a successful carwash, customer satisfaction is key to long-term profitability. In this special Q&A, Professional Carwashing & Detailing sits down with Ryan Rose, director of business development for Clutch Holdings LLC, to discover why implementing customer engagement strategies is important and how car care businesses can ensure success.
PC&D: Why is it important for car care businesses to stay up to date and continually implement customer engagement strategies?
RR: Continually staying up to date on consumer preferences and behavior is important for delivering a successful brand experience and keeping customers loyal to your brand. Customer engagement strategies should begin with synthesizing customer data across different channels, including point-of-sale (POS), mobile, digital and social, with the end goal of understanding your customers and informing interactions and engagements.
Even for businesses that primarily handle customers in store, digital and social channels can provide a wealth of customer insight that is critical to successful customer engagement. Leveraging data on an ongoing basis enables brands to understand when, where and how customers interact with their brands, and equips businesses with the information needed to deliver relevant and targeted offers that reach the right customer at the right time.
PC&D: How can establishing loyalty programs and promotions help boost customer experience and in turn a business’ profits?
RR: Implementing a loyalty program not only increases a business’ ability to identify and understand its customers, but it also allows them to deliver a more personalized experience through frequent, targeted rewards, promotions and interactions.
Serving up relevant and valuable promotions on an ongoing basis, as part of a loyalty program, can ultimately build long-term brand loyalty which results in increased sales, more frequent visits and positive word-of-mouth marketing that can motivate new customers. In fact, brands can see revenue increases upward of 75 percent between loyalty members and nonloyalty members.
PC&D: Can you please share with our readers how personalizing customer communications, such as leveraging data and analytics, can help optimize the performance of loyalty programs and promotions?
RR: Over 78 percent of customers expect personalization from the brands they engage with. Delivering relevant experiences aligned with the customers’ interests and behaviors is no longer a luxury for businesses, but rather a consumer expectation.
The onus is now on the brand to consistently demonstrate value and relevancy to the customer at every touchpoint, be it through a loyalty program or promotions. Getting a handle on customer data enables businesses to develop a never-before-possible understanding of customer behavior, paths-to-purchases and preferences across different customer segments. These insights can then be incorporated into personalized interactions and offers to ensure that each consumer is being effectively engaged. In many cases, this means not simply focusing on discounts, but rather leveraging data to reveal what directly motivates customer interactions in order to guide marketing promotions, engagements and offerings. This can come in many different forms, including enhanced service levels, increased convenience, improved loyalty rewards or something entirely different.
PC&D: In your opinion, how do these personalized communications compare to traditional approaches, such as punch cards and BOGO sales? What are the pros and cons for both new-age and traditional customer engagement tactics?
RR: Discount-based, one-size-fits-all programs tend to attract price-sensitive consumers who are more committed to bargains than brand loyalty. While punch cards and BOGO sales can stimulate immediate purchases, they do not foster successful customer relationships that create long-term value. In addition, traditional blanket discount programs typically don’t collect customer data to help the brand better understand its customers’ behaviors and tendencies.
Beyond this, ensuring that your customers are getting value out of their engagements with your brand can go a long way in building brand loyalty and motivating positive brand feelings. In fact, Infosys reports that 74 percent of customers feel frustrated with content or offers that are not personalized. In attempt to avoid customer frustration and motivate positive interactions, many businesses, like automotive service leader Meineke, are embracing advanced customer technology which opens doors to more effectively understand and interact with customers.
PC&D: In addition to incorporating customized programs and promotions, how else can car care businesses enhance engagement and retain a strong customer base?
RR: Successful businesses continually listen to and learn from their customers to direct their business decisions and strategies. As simple as it sounds, directly asking customers about their experiences through POS systems, websites, surveys and social accounts can provide tremendous insight into what your brand is doing right and where it can improve.
Integrating simple feedback systems requires little resources and can greatly enhance strategies that engage customers and build brand loyalty.
PC&D: With more advancements in technology, what in your opinion can we expect to see regarding customer engagement strategies in the near future?
RR: Technological advances today are allowing businesses to get more sophisticated in identifying, understanding and segmenting customers. For example, customers can be segmented and engaged across a spectrum of dimensions like their visit frequency, the timing of their visit, their lifetime value, the type of vehicle they drive, the type of services they purchase, whether they engage the brand via social media and so much more.
As this technology continues to advance, so too will the ability to create even more personalized engagement and drive deeper customer loyalty. Brands who are embracing and incorporating this technology early have significant competitive advantages over other brands in the market, but we can expect these types of technologies to become more widespread in the near future.