COVID-19 forced companies and consumers to adapt rapidly to stressful circumstances. E-commerce became pivotal, and contactless service a necessity. The script for how we interact with each other has been fundamentally rewritten over the last months.
These learned behaviors aren’t going away any time soon. Even after restrictions lift, reports from early-opening states indicate that business isn’t returning to pre-coronavirus levels overnight. For dealerships that have made it through the shutdowns, deliberate action will ensure they survive the next stage.
Securing Brand Loyalty Post-COVID-19
Brand loyalty will be critical during this time. COVID-19 made many people question their values and rethink their priorities. Gaps in supply and safety requirements have also led them to try new brands for the first time, eroding previously strong ties.
This presents a challenge and opportunity for dealerships. Old loyalties might be less solid than they were at New Year’s. At the same time, there are many customers who might not have looked your way before, now primed for a change. Here are three suggestions that can help shore-up existing brand loyalty and net new lifetime followers.
Continue COVID-19 Services
Many dealerships instituted special COVID-19 services, such as contactless car delivery options, special hours for vulnerable clients, and expanded web-services. Though the need for these services may seem less as regulations ease, it would be prudent to keep them in place for a while longer.
As mentioned, data shows that foot traffic remains low in areas where businesses are opening up. Many people remain scared despite changes in government orders. Continuing to offer COVID-19 sensitive resources and services allows you to continue to access the population that remains sheltered in place past state and local openings.
Additionally, over the last few months, customers have become accustomed to a certain standard of interaction. Digital interactions bring a certain convenience with them that few will want to do away with entirely. Keeping COVID-19 services as an option could net you these customers’ loyalty as they too transition to the post-coronavirus reality.
Rethink Your Space
To make customers comfortable as they begin emerging from their homes, consider reconfiguring your space to make it more “post-corona friendly.” At the minimum, this would mean instituting a clear, transparent health plan at your dealership, outlining sanitizing practices.
More than this, however, consider how you can make your physical space–and the way customers navigate it–more open. Customers coming in will now automatically judge spaces by how much room they feel they have, and how easily they can conduct business with someone while maintaining a distance. If a space feels too confined or inhospitable under these new circumstances, you may have lost them.
Updating spaces for post-COVID-19 does not just mean slapping down tape to indicate a six-foot distance from a desk or putting up a plexiglass partition. Instead, dealerships should think creatively about moving business away from confining areas and making existing open areas as pleasant as possible to be in from a social-distancing context.
Understand Your New Customer
Finally, understand that customers have changed as people. They are more health-conscious than before, and many are experiencing profound personal changes. This event has shaken a lot of core beliefs in ourselves and our abilities to handle health and social crises, as well as devastating whole industries and careers.
Respect these changes by focusing more than ever on customer individuality. Customize experiences whenever possible, and engage on a personal level in an empathetic manner.
Did you enjoy this article from Chana Perton? Read other articles from her here.
Car Biz Today, the official resource of the retail automotive industry.
While you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for all the latest auto industry news from CBT News.
This has been a JBF Business Media production.