One of the first industries to embrace the use of Social Media to build long lasting, profitable relationships with customers is the Motor Industry. Now for Social Media Managers and Consultants, the automotive businesses are a staple in our client portfolios. As a Social Media Manager and Consultant myself I find that consulting and training for Sales and Service staff is what i am increasingly hired for. This service is in extremely high demand and after consulting on Social Media for Lexus and Peugeot brands I have found some strategies that are extremely effective in saving time and effort for the service department and increasing sales and brand exposure in the sales departments.
Here are 5 of the Social Media Strategies that i found to deliver a fantastic ROI:
1. Use LinkedIn to promote Company Car and Van deals to Business users.
With LinkedIn approaching 130 million users there is no better medium to reach the “Business Vehicle Customer”. For Fleet sales departments knowing how to use LinkedIn to contact potential customers is one one the most valuable skills to possess. Gone are the days of cold calling, and phrases like “can i speak to the person who deals with your fleet?” or Who can i speak to about renewing your company vehicles?”
LinkedIn allows sales people to find and connect with the decision makers and people with influence within a business they are trying to sell to. Connecting with the (for example) MD of a Plumbing company with 10 vans on the road and engaging them before you call means the sal;es people only ever call “warm leads” This strategy increased the appointment rate in a Peugeot dealer I recently worked at by almost 31% over the period I was there.
2. Buzz Monitoring & Reputation Management- Don’t underestimate the power of Forums.
The best example I can give of the vital importance of this practice is from a Lexus Dealer I worked with. The screen shot below shows a Google search off “Lexus Liverpool” (the dealer I was working with at the time). In the top half of this search is the result “Lexus Liverpool – Terrible Service!”
This was a disgruntled customer who had posted in “Lexus Owners Club Forum”. The gengleman had simply been upset that his fuel seemed lower and his car had mechanics boot prints in the mats. It would have been a simple case of addressing the problem for the customer within the forum to let the rest of the members know that Lexus Liverpool cares about its customers. But they didn’t buzz monitor the mentions of their business so they didn’t know about the comment. When I showed the bosses the screen shot they freaked out!
3. Collect customer Facebook and Twitter info at Qualification.
As a Social Media Manager & Consultant it would be foolish of me not to have suggested that sales and Service staff at least ask for these details and permission to follow them and connect with them on LinkedIn. Staff are already required to get almost every other piece of contact information i.e. Name, address, home phone, work phone, email and in most cases credit card or bank details then why not connect with them on Twitter and Facebook.
This practice makes marketing an PR so much easier and cheaper for the dealership plus and social media platforms act as a back up database. The customer will also have a stronger affinity and loyalty to the business from being part of the community
4.Geo Location Keyword Search
Yes, OK I know I say this in lots of my “Top 5 Social Media Tips” but really this is a great technique for local dealerships. Regular keyword searches of the area on Twitter will find the dealership more customers. Not just searches like “New Car”, “Need a New Car” Loan for a Car” etc. But searches on phrases like “My stupid car”, “Hate My Car” “Car broke down” etc created some hot leads with simple replies like “Hey, did you know we can give you a great part exchange deal on the car you hate?” . Hootsuite as a great Geo-Location Keyword Search tool ad its free.
These are people in the local area who need to change their car!
5. Use Twitter to keep Customers updated.
By getting the customers Twitter name the service and sales department can keep customers informed on progress of new or used vehicle orders and also vehicles being serviced in the workshop. We found that over 40% of calls to a dealership that asked to be directed to the service department were enquiries about the progress of cars being serviced, “When will my car be ready?” etc
By updating the customer on Twitter (those that had Twitter accounts that is) the customer had no need to call. Consequently, they felt like they were receiving a special service and it also meant less of the Service advisers time is occupied.