Saturday, 9 January 2010

Mazda get some Zoom Zoom from data

mazda3-mps-small Mazda’s customer dialogue service is reaping real results with a reported increase of 10% for first services – this at a time when having your car serviced is viewed by some as an unnecessary luxury with 15% of people indicating they had deferred their last service.

So what has Mazda done to buck this trend and actually increase the number of people coming back to them.  Well in part it’s through the use of a retention programme with a combination of tried and tested timely communications coupled with some interesting “sticky” features.

However the first real innovation in the Mazda programme was not communications or features – instead it was the more mundane requirement of data collection.

If there is one thing many car manufactures don’t have it’s up to date, clean customer data.  An outcome that arises from historically very manual processes – like paper log books – and a channel based sales network meaning that the manufacturer has little or no customer details.  Compounding this is that due to second hand car sales and customer movements, even the best dealer database struggles to stay up to date between the long buying cycles.

The solution then for Mazda was DSR or its Digital Service Record, described as “an innovative electronic service booklet, which replaces the traditional booklet that you used to get stamped following a vehicle service”.  More importantly though is that the “vehicle's service history is stored digitally on a central Mazda database”

It’s this centralised storage of vehicle (and customer) details which has allowed Mazda to build it’s retention programme

When DSR was first launched to dealers back in 2005 it was well received with dealers recognising the potential benefits for customers over and above the operational aspects of servicing a car.  One dealer in the UK was quoted at the time as saying

"It is an ideal asset for nurturing customer retention with its tracking capability. The critical time comes after a car is three years old. It will highlight for dealers how much business they retain or lose from the network and should help keep more customers within Mazda’s orbit."

Mazda are making good use of this database, using it to target customers due for a service with both service notification mailings as well as “missed service” reminders – all of which generate extra business for dealers.  They are also targeting customers of older cars to come back in to Mazda – generating additional footfall and opportunities.

All of this is only possible with good, up to date data and there is always a price for getting customers to provide it – the trick is doing this at the least cost and then extracting the most long term return.

A retail loyalty programme giving points for spend is essentially paying customers to swipe their card – to identify themselves on their transaction.  This data has then been paid for through the issuance of points – how you use this data to extract additional value is your return. 

What Mazda did was indentify an opportunity to collect data whilst providing a win-win for all stakeholders.  For the customer they have a secure, maintained service record, ensuring maximum future sales value – this in turn creates value for the dealer as customers will want to ensure this is maintained and so will return.

Whether you’re an automotive company, a restaurant or retailer, knowing who your customers are and what they do is an important first step in building a relationship with them – essentially creating a retention programme. 

Only when you have sight of this information can you create timely and relevant communications which maintain or change behaviour as Mazda have done.

The trick is to find the opportunities to collect this information at the lowest possible cost whilst gaining the greatest overall return.  Collecting data and not getting a return from it is just as bad as not making the investment to collect it in the first place.

Want to add a little Zoom Zoom into your customer relationships?  It might be worth thinking about what data you could collect and/or make work harder which is currently ignored, lost or only held locally?

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