Driver Loyalty Is Evolving
Gas prices are through the roof. The state of the environment is an ever-present concern. Vehicles are more expensive than ever, given an ongoing inventory shortage due to a stymied global supply chain. So what exactly is motivating customers to buy vehicles?
It’s an interesting dilemma, but the fact is, although actual vehicle sales have slumped, demand itself remains healthy. So maybe we should re-phrase the question: what exactly is motivating customers to buy your vehicle?
You shouldn’t be guessing at an answer. Amidst surging competition and a turbulent market, loyal customers have the potential to become harbingers of uninterrupted lifetime value. So, to focus your efforts, here are three trends influencing this complex industry:
Experiences Still Rule
According to a recent study from Meta, 80% of people who have a good purchase experience in the automotive industry are more likely to be loyal to the brand. And the number one reason why people stay loyal to dealerships? Customer service. That’s why a switch in your mindset could be a crucial step to retaining more customers: the product isn’t really the vehicle itself. The product is the totality of your brand, and from the first moment customers step through the dealership door, regardless of whether they ever purchase a vehicle or not, they are consuming your offering. Extra spending on staff training, showroom and floorplan design, brand maintenance across all touchpoints, and demographics research to dial-in sales tactics have the potential to pay off big. In fact, these areas of focus should be addressed first, before any rewards or incentive plans are implemented.
Rationalize Your Rewards
Perhaps more than any other industry, the rewards models that accompany automotive loyalty programs can significantly ease the burdens of vehicle ownership. So rather than amalgamate rewards bundles that have independent value but no overarching cohesion when considered in the context of the auto industry, think about the value your customers can get from rewards that help them with their vehicle costs. Gas rewards, maintenance plans, and vehicle accessories can help customers breathe a sigh of relief, and relief is a powerful emotion which can translate positively to your brand. While rewards like VIP experiences, concert tickets, or premium electronics may be valuable in some industries, they lack an acute connection with vehicle ownership, and may not serve customers with the tangible benefits they seek.
The FordPass program, an app-based loyalty platform, allows customers to earn complimentary maintenance rewards points when they lease a new Ford vehicle. The points can be used for multiple purposes, including discounts on buying their next Ford. And new customers get an instant bonus of 42,000 points, which can be used to purchase accessories and subsidize maintenance fees. Further perks include:
- Tiered Rewards – Earn 10 points for every $1 spent on service and maintenance with Ford.
- Roadside Assistance – 24/7 Roadside assistance is available virtually, and fuel delivery, flat tire, and other roadside services are available on a priority basis for program members.
- Connect & Control – FordPass keeps customers connected with complimentary remote features to start and stop their car.
Adopt an AI Attitude
There’s been a lot of press around the power of AI and its ability to analyze customer trends with uncannily human savvy. The technology is only getting better and better, and for the loyalty industry, AI promises a seismic shift in the way data is crunched and programs are designed. By leveraging these technologies, automotive brands can create personalized experiences that cater to individual preferences and desires. For example, by using AI-powered chatbots, customer service teams can provide real-time interactions in circumstances that would render human assistance impractical — such as offering instantaneous directions to complicated locations.
Toyota Ties It Together Through Tech
Toyota Motor Corporation uses AI technology to support its connected vehicle concept, known as “Connected Smart Mobility.” This involves dedicated machine learning and AI tools that transform its mobility service offerings. Through AI and deep learning algorithms, the company can identify users’ behaviors, offering customized recommendations that address highly-specific needs.
What Comes Next?
If you’re wondering about the technical evolution of AI and the specific abilities it will possess in the coming months and years, be prepared to be amazed. The pace is so rapid within this field that technologies introduced just a short while ago will soon be obsolete, replaced by more sophisticated, less expensive, widely available systems. But that doesn’t mean you should wait to see the next “big reveal” before deciding to incorporate AI into your automotive loyalty program. From AI-infused customer service chatbots, next-generation data analytics, fraud prevention and more, there are powerful platforms already in existence to make artificial intelligence very real for your automotive loyalty.