Don’t Be Customer Focused, Be Relationship Focused

customerfocusedJust because a customer visits your shop more than once doesn’t necessarily mean they’re “loyal.” The American Marketing Association (AMA) calls these “Predisposed Customers.” They are predisposed to return based on a previous visit, but because these customers not “loyal” they could also be lured away to another auto repair shop with a better offer.

The problem with being merely “customer focused” is that it is generally a one-way relationship – as in give, give, give. This can leave your staff feeling burned out. A “relationship focus” on the other hand includes a reciprocating relationship – giving and receiving. This can be as simple as showing appreciation to your customer for their business. And thank them when they take the time to help your business by leaving a review after their visit. A simple thank you goes a long way. With a relationship focus, you build engagement — a mutual bond — with your customer, that leads to 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 shop.

Loyal = These customers not only trust you, but also: 1) feel like they belong to your repair family, and 2) feel a common purpose during their visit.

For loyalty to happen, your customers’ brains seek three things (in this sequence):

  1. Trust — Before I can do business, I must trust your competence and honesty. Trust supports a transactional relationship, but isn’t enough by itself to drive loyalty.
  2. Sense of belonging — You make me feel included, you understand who I am and my challenges. You and I are alike and therefore you’re a proxy for my decision making.
  3. Communicate a sense of common purpose — You make me feel like I’m making a difference in my life and the life of others. This can be related to family, community, cause, religion, etc. There is a purpose beyond the exchange of money for services.

Tips for being relationship focused:


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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.