3 Ways to Build ‘Relationship-Focused’ Customer Service to Boost Loyalty & Profits

Just because a customer visits your shop more than once doesn’t necessarily mean they’re truly “loyal.” Tough words for any shop owner to hear indeed, but let me explain why I say this. In general marketing terms, most customers are “Predisposed Customers,” meaning they are predisposed to return based on the outcome of a previous visit. But since these customers are not necessarily “loyal” they could also be lured away to another competitor who provides them a better offer or possible better experience.

If you’re like most shops around town, you probably consider customer service in the automotive industry to be “customer focused” but not necessarily “relationship focused.” Customer-focused is generally considered one-way relationship – where one side just gives and gives. This can ultimately leave your staff feeling burnt out.

A “relationship focus” approach, on the other hand, is a reciprocating two-way relationship where both parties give and receive accordingly. This can be as simple as allowing your customers to show appreciation by asking them for feedback on their service experience(s). Or thanking them when they take the time to help your business by leaving a review after their visit. The old adage “A simple thank you can go a long way” is prudent in this case. With a relationship focus, you build engagement — a mutual bond — with your customer, that leads to true loyalty.

So, in a nutshell, the difference between predisposed and loyal customers is as follows:

Predisposed = Based on a purely transactional business relationship, these customers are “leaning” toward returning to your repair shop.

Loyal = These customers not only trust you, but also feel like they are contributing to and belong to your repair “family” and feel a common purpose during their visit(s).

For loyalty to happen, the customers’ brain seeks these three things and in this sequence:

  1. Trust — Before they can do business with your shop, they must trust your competence and honesty. Trust helps supports a transactional relationship, but it isn’t enough by itself to drive loyalty.
  2. Sense of Belonging — You make the customer feel included, that they feel you understand who they are and their challenges. The customer determines that you and they are alike and therefore you’re a proxy for their decision making.
  3. Communicate a Sense of Common Purpose — You make them feel like you’re making a difference in their life and the lives of others. This can be related to family, community, cause, religion and more. There is a purpose beyond just the simple exchange of money for services.

Here are some great tips for providing the best automotive customer experience possible:

Always remember building your customer relationships isn’t going to happen overnight, but it can start today! Mitchell 1’s Social CRM auto repair marketing team is always here to help you and provide industry proven tips and recommendations to help your repair shop succeed!

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About the Author

Brian Warfield

Brian Warfield is a Senior Product Manager for the Mitchell 1 SocialCRM product line. He has been in the automotive software business for over 20 years and has earned a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati Business College.