A Look at the Customer Challenges and Innovations Across the Automotive Service Industry
When it comes to customer engagement and loyalty, much of the attention is squarely on traditional industries spanning the retail universe. However, as consumers become increasingly savvy on their paths to purchase, nearly every industry has leading brands that are looking at transformative methods to impact how they connect with and motivate their customers.
One industry where this is becoming increasingly important is the automotive services industry. Meineke, a national leader in the space, recently underwent an overhaul of their customer strategy and marketing technology in an effort to understand drivers beyond their vehicles.
As Artemio Garza, Chief Marketing Officer for Meineke explained, “Our goal remains to remove the stress and anxiety from the vehicle maintenance and repair process. This evolution in our customer relationship program will help do that and allow for greater personalization based on individual consumer and vehicle needs. It’s all about having the right technology in place, which Clutch has. We can analyze our data and act accordingly on a timely basis. Because it is not just about communicating with consumers about what they want to know, it is also about doing it at the right time.”
To further understand how marketing technology and customer data are driving the automotive services space we sat down with a cross section of industry experts.
- Ralph Yarusso, SVP of Operations and Business Development, Grease Monkey
- Ryan Rose, Director of Automotive Strategy, Clutch
What is your brand’s biggest strength with customer experience?
Tom Tracy: Monro understands that our customer’s vehicle is typically the second largest expense an individual may have. Our focus is to provide customers with preventative car care by assessing each car with our standard auto report card. This reduces the risk of unnecessary and costly events that could have been prevented.
Ralph Yarusso: Convenience is the top focus for Grease Monkey. Our stores are conveniently located and provide quick service where you don’t need an appointment. Drivers want it done right and done fast, so we focus on a less hassle, more hustle experience every time.
Robert Falconi: We stress ethics throughout Precision’s organization, which earns us high customer satisfaction scores. Auto repair has a bad reputation in some parts of the industry so we focus on ethics and customer service to stand out.
Ryan Rose (Clutch): Working with brands across the auto care sector, our team sees an array of customer strategies from brands, a few of which you can see here. What’s critical, no matter the approach, is that brands can analyze customer data across channels and align their strategies to customers’ behaviors and preferences.
What’s the most significant customer challenge your brand faces?
John Wiegand: For Precision, finding quality staff with the right customer-centric philosophy is challenging. The demand for skilled technicians and customer service representatives that are focused on the customer is higher than the supply today.
Tom Tracy: It’s often times a challenge to meet customer expectations. Our Monro stores focus on setting expectations with the customer and delivering on those expectations. We want to be able to have a thorough conversation with the customer to ensure we have reviewed our diagnosis, the costs, and timing involved to service the car in order to eliminate any surprises.
Ralph Yarusso: It comes down to having everyone singing the same song from the same hymnal and of course maintaining brand consistency throughout our system. Grease Monkey wants all of our franchises uniform and delivering the same customer experience. We hope to accomplish this with our new Certified Pit Crew Program that guarantees a specified time and displays the oil change countdown to the customer with monitors conveniently located in the waiting rooms. For every minute an oil change is over the guarantee, we give a dollar back to the customer.
Ryan Rose (Clutch): As you can see, meeting and exceeding customer expectations is critical. Nearly every auto service brand Clutch partners with talks about meeting this goal. It becomes infinitely easier to exceed the expectations of the customer and motivate their behavior when you can identify them and understand how they engage and feel about their experience with your brand.
How is technology impacting your brand’s customer experience?
Ralph Yarusso: Technology is enhancing Grease Monkey’s experience; our employees have tablets when they greet customers as they enter the location to streamline the arrival process. We also have digital menu boards that give tutorials on the services and products they need. Aside from this, we’re focused on extending the experience online and enhancing our social engagement.
Robert Falconi: Precision has made our website more mobile friendly with digital appointment setting. We’re enhancing our email engagement and have an online garage that displays the car’s service history and provides extensive information to the customer.
Tom Tracy: Technology is very important to Monro. Digital technology has allowed customers to make more sophisticated decisions on their car. Before choosing a shop, many customers search for services online, look at reviews, and book appointments. Customers no longer just go to the shop down the street.
Ryan Rose (Clutch): While many auto brands are embracing digital technology, the next natural step is incorporating personalization into their marketing. Nearly 80 percent of consumers expect personalized experiences with brands. This drives relevancy and motivates behavior, which helps earn genuine customer loyalty.
What role does data play in your marketing strategy?
Tom Tracy: Data is huge, but we know Monro, like many brands, have an opportunity to enhance what we’re doing. We have a significant amount of data on the vehicles we service, but want to improve our approach on how we look at the customers and households we serve. This will ensure we have the insights to retain and grow our customers with relevant communications.
Ralph Yarusso: We try to capture as much customer data as possible. We constantly study our KPIs and are proud of Grease Monkey’s increasing car count, average ticket and net sales. If it doesn’t get measured it doesn’t get done. We are committed to an intense focus on our business helping us understand our trends and reacting accordingly.
John Wiegand: Precision is getting more precise with our data usage. We try to ask what brought the customer in so we can optimize our acquisition marketing. We also target lapsed customers trying to get a return visit.
Ryan Rose (Clutch): Data-driven marketing is transformative to the brands we work with. Capturing the data is one thing, but synthesizing that data from their point-of-sale systems, online appoint sites, vehicle databases and even social accounts gives a complete customer view to deliver personalized engagements across email, online, social and even direct mail channels.
So, while many see retailers leading the charge with marketing technology to enhance customer experience, the automotive service industry has an array of brands that are pioneering the ways they connect with customers through data-driven strategies.
As these advancements across the industry continue, it’s these strategies and technologies that will enhance the convenience and quality for drivers nationwide and likely improve the perception of automotive service industry overall among consumers.