Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Warning: Your dealership should be habit forming. Your customers should want to come back frequently and not want to leave. But forming those habits is going to take more than just having a Sales event.
Today your customers have more options than ever. They don’t need to go
Today your customers have more options than ever. They don’t need to go down to your lot to get unit specs, they don’t even have to leave their homes to buy. That means your store has to do more than sit and wait for customers, it has to be a habit that they can’t stay away from.
Customer Lifetime Value: Customer Study
In a recent study of over 150,000 Powersports customers ADP Lightspeed found that the average lifetime value of a customer was $14,000. Average customers bought units every two years, parts twice a year and service once a year. They’re yearly spending: $5,000.
Sounds pretty good, can we do better?
We divided the customers into fourths and focused on the top 25%. The top customers spent $29,000 in their lifetime, more than double the average. They’re yearly spending: $11,500.
Where did it come from? Not unit purchases. The top customers purchased units at about the same rate, once over two years. The difference was Parts and Service. They came in for parts and service almost twice as much as the average customer and spent 30% more per visit.
Now the question is: “how do I get more of those top 25%?”
Understanding the Customer Lifecycle
The first step to creating habitual customers is to understand their needs. Throughout a customer’s experiences they will have different needs. Parts, service, rental, storage and eventually a replacement unit. Focusing on building lifelong customers will give you the opportunity to take advantage of each of those needs.
But creating lifetime customers takes work and cooperation from every department. At every point of the customer lifecycle you need to be prepared. The focus needs to be taken away from one-time wins to long-term relationships at each step of the customer’s experience. Here’s how:
Most businesses focus on getting business in, keeping inventory turning and creating new customers. What they often miss is that the heavy focus on acquiring customers often loses customers after the initial sale.
When you focus on developing loyal/habitual customers the way you treat get new customers has to change. Two examples:
a. Limit Discounting – By pushing sales and discounts you may train them to only focus on costs, giving them reason to jump ship at the next best price.
b. Gather Customer Information – If you want to get the customer in often, you better know who they are. Data collection needs to be a priority.
Our industry is exciting. Your store should mirror that excitement. Your operations need to be organized and prepared to focus on the customers. It is difficult for your staff to focus excitement if they are busy tracking down a part that was supposed to be ordered last week.
Positive customer experiences don’t start with retail displays; they start with your back office. Without the right controls in place your business will squander its time in haphazard tasks instead of focusing on customers.
The goal of a complete customer lifecycle focus is to capture as much of their total spend as possible. So how do you turn a one-time purchase into a lifetime customer? Proactive needs fulfillment.
To create loyal customers you cannot wait for a customer to show up with a shopping list of needs, you need to anticipate their needs. If they bought a unit from you, you’ve won the first battle. Getting the initial purchase and collecting their information opens the door for the next purchase.
Set up reminders to contact customers at key preventative maintenance intervals and purchase anniversaries. Share information about customers across departments. After years of experience you can predict what a customer wants even before they know it. Contact them before they even had the need and make a customer for life.
You don’t want them to think of your store as just the place they buy stuff, you want it to be a habit. Encouraging those habits means making your store and staff the perfect fit for your customers.
Reward loyal customers. Follow-up with them. Show them how important they are to you. One way to keep them is to get them to bring their friends.
Many CSI surveys have put a lot of their focus to one key question: “Would you be willing to refer a friend?” The reason? If someone is willing to refer a friend you have succeeded. So ask your customers for referrals. If they are not willing then you still have work to do.
Every customer has a lifetime value that is far greater that any one-time purchase. Your goal is to extend your focus past the short-term purchase to the long-term relationship. Keep your customers addicted to your store.
Monday, January 7, 2013
On Friday, Windows Phone users supposedly found themselves unable to access Google Maps. But Google said it made no sudden change on its end to cause this. What happened? It seems likely many people simple noticed for the first time long-standing redirection that Google had in place for those not using Android or iOS devices.
Windows Phone User? No Google Maps For You!
To recap briefly, some Windows Phone users started reporting(as covered by The Verge) that they were unable to reach Google Maps using the Internet Explorer web browser on their phones. They got redirected instead to the Google home page.
Google initially suggested (as covered by Gizmodo) that this was because Internet Explorer on Windows Phone wasn’t a WebKit-based browser and so Google Maps wouldn’t work for it.
Google later added (as covered by The Next Web) that it was redirecting people on Windows Phone devices because of this incompatibility, but Google said this would soon change, since the latest version of Internet Explorer for Windows Phone was now apparently Google Maps-capable:
Google sent us the same statement that The Next Web received, which says:
We periodically test Google Maps compatibility with mobile browsers to make sure we deliver the best experience for those users.In our last test, IE mobile still did not offer a good maps experience with no ability to pan or zoom and perform basic map functionality. As a result, we chose to continue to redirect IE mobile users to Google.com where they could at least make local searches. The Firefox mobile browser did offer a somewhat better user experience and that’s why there is no redirect for those users.Recent improvements to IE mobile and Google Maps now deliver a better experience and we are currently working to remove the redirect. We will continue to test Google Maps compatibility with other mobile browsers to ensure the best possible experience for users.
I’ll revisit that statement in a moment, but first, several publications keep saying that Google Maps was never supported for Windows smartphone users. That’s not the case.
Google Used To Support Windows Mobile Devices
Consider this screenshot of the Google Maps For Mobile page from mid-2011:
That third device? That’s a Windows mobile device. Google even had specific instructions for those wanting to use Windows mobile devices to reach Google Maps:
Given the above, let’s put to rest what I keep reading, that Google Maps has never supported Windows phones. It clearly has, as far back as 2010 and at least officially through June 2012,according to the Internet Archive.
Windows Mobile Vs. Windows Phone
Ah, but are we talking Windows Mobile being supported but not Windows Phone? That’s a Windows Mobile device being shown (I used to use one of these regularly). Windows Mobile was the predecessor to Microsoft’s current Windows Phone mobile operating system.
It seems that it is Windows Mobile that this page was referring to. Google told me that the page was for its old Windows Mobile app that’s no longer supported.
Apparently, going to the m.google.com/maps URL would have triggered a request to download the app to a Windows Mobile device.
What if you went to the regular version of Google Maps in your Windows Mobile browser? Well, years ago Windows Mobile was my main phone, and I used Google Maps all the time. I seem to remember using it through my browser, not through an app.
Which Version Of IE For Windows Phone “Failed” & When?
As for Windows Phone, apparently this page was never updated to reflect whether Windows Phone was supported or not despite the release of that operating system in early 2010.
Windows Phone 7.5 shipped with Internet Explorer 9; Windows Phone 8 with Internet Explorer 10. Was it an issue with one or both of these browsers? That leads us back to this part of Google’s statement:
We periodically test Google Maps compatibility with mobile browsers to make sure we deliver the best experience for those users.In our last test, IE mobile still did not offer a good maps experience with no ability to pan or zoom and perform basic map functionality. As a result, we chose to continue to redirect IE mobile users to Google.com where they could at least make local searches.
The statement tells us that some version of IE was found lacking by Google at some point in the past, so Google put a redirect into place. Was it IE9 for mobile? IE10 for mobile? Some minor version of either of these? Google hasn’t said.
I asked Google when the test was done on IE, and when the redirect based on that failed test was put into place. Google said it couldn’t share when the test was done and that the redirect was in place for “some time.”
That doesn’t provide much clarity.
Why Didn’t Users Encounter The Redirect Before?
One odd thing is what long-time Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley pointed out on CNET:
In response to a query from me, a Google representative said the redirection for Windows Phone users seeking access to Google Maps via IE in the browser has “always” been in place. I cannot definitively prove this is wrong, but it seems to me that I’ve used Google Maps via IE on my Windows Phone at least once in the past year-plus.
Indeed, I’ve used various Windows Phone devices for about two years, and I’m virtually certain I’ve accessed Google Maps through my web browser on those phones without encountering a redirect.
Most puzzling, though, is that if the redirect has been out there for some time — let’s assume at least weeks, if not months — then why did all these Windows Phone users suddenly encounter problems?
Google’s not sure but tells me: “We did not make any changes in the last few days.” [NOTE:See my postscript below that explains how Google does seem correct, that this isn't a new change just one that's been recently noticed].
Looks Bad – More Windows Phone Support Would Help
However it happened, it’s very bad timing. It comes just after Google basically won the anti-trust investigation that the US Federal Trade Commission had ben conducting. It gives the impression that Google decided to cut-out those on Microsoft’s mobile platform perhaps to help hurt Microsoft’s already-weak mobile market share.
It also comes on the heels of Google being accused by Microsoft of blocking a YouTube app for Windows Phone.
One thing that would help would be if Google built an actual Google Maps app for Windows Phone, similar to the work it did to make one for Apple’s iOS operating system.