Reclaiming Control of Your Customer Sentiment

by Kristine on January 31, 2022

Consumers make 95% of their purchasing decisions based on emotion. Despite people fancying themselves as savvy and experienced shoppers, the majority of purchasing decisions are made by the subconscious mind. To capitalize on this, successful brands use marketing that appeals to emotions. This is especially true in the automotive industry, where the biggest trigger for buying a particular car is purely emotional. This emotion develops into a bond that can lead to a lifetime devotion to a specific car brand. 

You can reclaim control of your customer sentiment at local dealerships by focusing on the emotional connection of your customers. 

What Is Customer Sentiment? 

Your customer's sentiment is the set of emotions they feel towards your brand and business. This is different from the customer’s satisfaction. Sentiment is focused on the customer’s emotional feelings and response to the company. Satisfaction is about the customer’s immediate and concrete reaction to a recent interaction. 

Direct and Indirect Sentiment 

There are two types of sentiment that you need to pay attention to. Direct sentiment is when a customer feels strongly enough to reach out directly to convey their feelings. Indirect sentiment is when a customer turns to another platform to express themselves. The internet and social media are common places for this. 

Find Out Where You Stand 

The first step in reclaiming control of your customer’s sentiment is to assess how your brand is widely perceived. Once you understand how your brand is perceived, you can identify areas of improvement and processes that are working well. Start by asking these questions: 

  • Are we making our customers happy?
  • What do our customers think of us? 
  • How can we improve their opinion? 

Deciphering your customer’s emotions and feelings is about understanding tone and attitude. This can be slightly tricky because deciphering emotions does not directly translate into a numerical data set that has an easy mathematical solution. Pay attention to the specific vocabulary used to discern the writer’s positive or negative opinion. Words have connotations that can signal whether or not the person has positive or negative feelings. 

There are four phases a person moves through as they become more emotionally connected to a brand, beginning with no emotional connection at all. Then, they move to highly satisfied but still not fully connected. The third stage is perceived brand differentiation but still not fully connected to the brand. The fourth and final stage is full connection. 

Customers move through the four stages of emotional connection as the brand earns their trust. Companies do this by creating a personalized experience that’s tailored to the individual customer. Trust is also developed by incorporating specific emotions into the brand interactions. A customer will identify with the messaging from a company that features topics or issues they feel emotionally passionate about. This bonds the customer to the brand through emotionally meaningful interactions. 

Focus on Emotional Connection

There are key emotional motivators that drive people’s actions and decisions. These are desires to feel a particular way or experience a certain emotion. Tailor your experiences at your dealership to invoke emotions from these motivators:

  • Uniqueness
  • Security
  • Overall Well-being
  • Freedom
  • Thrill
  • Belonging
  • Protection of others and the environment 
  • Self-actualization
  • Success

Four-Step Process

Now that you understand customer sentiment and how to gauge customer sentiment at your local dealerships, it is time to put the information into action.  Follow this four-step plan to identify your fully connected customers, identify their key motivators, develop new connections, and measure performance. 

1. Target Connected Customers 

Analyze your current customer database to identify the most emotionally connected customers. These people return to the dealership year after year for all of their automotive needs. They may bring in their car for service significantly more than the average. They could spend substantially more than the average per visit. These are the people who are likely to be emotionally connected to your local dealership. 

2. Quantify Key Motivators 

Analyze current fully connected customers to discern which motivators impacted their purchasing decisions the most. The goal is to measure the strength of a customer’s emotional connection to determine which motivators are the most powerful. Create a customer profile that highlights the consistent qualities of the most emotionally connected customers. These people return year after year for all of their automotive needs. You will use this information to target potential customers who identify with the same motivators as your most emotionally connected customers. 

People are trusting you with something they are strongly emotionally attached to. You can connect with this emotion by instilling a sense of security when dropping their vehicle off with your service center. For others, their car represents their sense of freedom. Help them maintain that feeling by offering an easy-to-use shuttle service that reduces their waiting time at the dealership. 

3. Optimize Your Investment 

To maximize emotional investment, a dealership needs to look beyond marketing. The direct customer touchpoints have a stronger impact on emotional investment and lead to greater gains in ROI. Optimize the investment in emotional marketing by coordinating efforts across all avenues. For example, use marketing to promote a new easy to use shuttle service for the service department. Personalize this promotional marketing to those with similar motivators as your connected customers. This establishes communication. Then the service department can provide exemplary work while the shuttle service allows the customer to experience their emotional motivator. The result is the customer moves through the phases of connection sentiment to eventually become a fully connected customer. 

4. Measure and Develop 

Moving forward, include emotional connection metrics in your existing reporting efforts. Track the progression of customers through the emotional phases and the increase in fully connected customers. Measure the lifetime value of these customers and compare this to the required investment to obtain them. 

Reclaim Control of Customer Sentiment at Local Dealerships 

By taking control of your customers’ sentiment towards your dealership, you can better leverage your relationships to increase sales. Investing in emotionally focused marketing and optimizing your dealership operations can help your local dealership develop a deeper emotional connection with your best customers. Car dealership software can help you achieve this. 

Get started today by creating your account and starting your 30-day free trial for Quickride to better manage your dealership’s service center shuttle service.

Topics: customer experience, centralized shuttle management system