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Match Customer Expectations & Win Customer Loyalty in 3 Easy Steps

Bridging The Gap Between Customer Expectations & Experience is Key for Successful Customer Retention

As customers around the world feel the strain of rising costs, it’s getting harder and harder for dealerships to meet their needs. That’s because businesses are feeling the heat too.

Inflation has increased in all parts of the world, especially in the U.S. To top it off, dealerships are struggling to hire new people in the face of a global talent shortage that’s affecting 69% of employers. These issues are forcing businesses to raise costs, limit promotions, and do more with less.

The result? A major gap between customer expectations and experience. Consider these conflicting realities:

  • While consumers seek out price breaks to help them through a financially challenging time, prices are going up as dealerships try to recoup revenue lost during the pandemic.
  • As demand for service and customer expectations both continue to rise, the industry struggles to maintain adequate staffing levels, resulting in negative impacts to CX.

The expectation-experience gap

Analysis from ibex’s voice of customer (VOC) engine, IntelliQ, shows customers aren’t happy about this situation. Pricing concerns and staff shortages represent a higher percentage of all negative sentiment impacting CX in 2021.

When it comes to customers feeling the negative impact of staff shortages, our data shows that the frequency of customers talking about this subject spiked early on during the pandemic (146% of average), normalized soon after, but increased again in 2021 (110% of average globally, and 135% in the U.S.).

  • “It took over 3 weeks to get an appointment when it concerns warranty issues… If you don't have enough technicians, that should not affect the customer. The inside of my driver’s door was very dirty when I got my car back.”

  • “More customers than service consultants.”

Our VOC analysis also shows that the percentage of negative sentiment around pricing has risen each month since March 2020. As of July 2021, pricing concerns represent 60% of all negative sentiment compared to the previous average of 40%. That 20% increase is a major factor in the current expectation-experience gap.

  • “I did engine oil change regularly. But the price raised too much from less than $70 to more than $90. I understand the raising of the price, but it is too much raising. It is not reasonable. I do not want to do oil change there anymore.”

How to keep customers happy

So, what does this mean for business? Because customers are feeling the pinch, many are likely to churn in the near future if you don’t act quickly.

While it’s tough for business, the truth is, customers don’t care if your dealership is suffering right now. They expect you to be laser-focused on their needs, keep their spending limits top of mind, and help them weather the storm—particularly when it comes to unexpected repairs.

If you can show up for them in their hour of need—and while their wallets are tight—you can make a lasting impression that wins long-term loyalty. On the other hand, if you can’t meet their needs, customers won’t hesitate to find an alternate option for their next visit.

How can you keep customers satisfied as their expectations shift in the opposite direction of your business needs? Let’s look at three strategies you’ll want to consider as you navigate this challenging time.

1. Offer discounts in exchange for long-term loyalty

Start off by asking the customer about their current situation and actively listening to their concerns. Not everyone will be feeling financial stress right now. But for those that are, you’ll want to consider tailoring your pricing or strategy to help them feel cared for.

Pinching customers while they’re struggling isn’t a good look for your brand. It’s like hitting them while they’re down—and it feels that way too.

If you want to win their business into the future, resist the urge to maximize profits today and instead offer customers discounts—even small ones. It could be as simple as 50% off a future oil change or a free accessory to sweeten the deal.

customer loyalty

A little price break can go a long way to show you appreciate them and their business. Particularly as most other businesses pass down increased costs to customers, providing minor relief during a financially stressful time is a golden opportunity to rise above the competition.

While crafting small, deliberate gestures to show you care may not translate to huge cost savings for the customer, ultimately, it improves the experience by making them feel valued. And, ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.

According to Gartner, 64% of consumers find experience more important than price. And, on the flipside, one in three (32%) say they’ll walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience.

2. Go digital for better CX

As staff shortages continue to plague dealerships, CX-focused digital solutions can ease the burden, freeing employees up to focus on higher-level requests and even helping them deliver better CX.

Not only do digital solutions allow you to handle increased demand with less resources, but they also meet customer expectations for self-service options. 62% of consumers say they’re now more likely to complete steps of the automotive purchase process online due to COVID-19.

When implementing new digital solutions, a thoughtful, people-first approach produces the best results. Rarely does digital transformation follow a simple “set it and forget it” rule. Consider how technology can empower and supports your people and business, rather than the other way around.

3. Dial into their needs so you can deliver

Finally, you can’t truly know what your customers want or need if you’re not in tune with their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and experiences.

How are you tracking what customers say about you? Analyzing sentiment in customer feedback is the best way to understand their needs and cycle improvements back through your business.

Consider the following mechanisms for monitoring direct and indirect feedback and how they can fit into your existing strategy:

  • CX surveys
  • VOC analysis that includes voice and text
  • Social listening that monitors multiple channels and review sites

customer loyalty


Rise above during a tough time

With so many pressures facing your business today, it can be tempting to make decisions based on the immediate bottom line. But customer retention doesn’t work that way. Investing in your customers’ satisfaction now will win you their loyalty for years to come. While the short term may be challenging, you’ll want them on your side in the brighter days ahead.

Discover how ibex can help boost engagement through RefleCX, our digital solution that listens across multiple social channels to analyze customer feedback and sentiment, so you can deliver the best CX possible.


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