Honda’s brand experience builds its own recovery.


J.D. Power and Associates’ “2008 Customer Retention Study” puts Honda on top with a 64.7% return buyer score. I’m not surprised.

A few months ago I purchased my first Honda – a dealer loaner Accord with 13,500 miles. Everything about the experience has been right. The salesperson was knowledgeable and helpful without being overbearing and pushy. He talked about the car, about Honda engineering, about real (not superficial) improvements. The dealership was clean and welcoming, the personnel friendly and efficient. I love my car. Had my first oil change and warranty service done. Again, friendly, efficient, fast. Got a follow up call – the interviewer said it would be a 3 minute call and it was. So I agreed to take the online survey – also quick and to the point.

My guess is that more than 64.7% of Honda’s customers get this same level of service and satisfaction. Sure, Honda has seen a sales slump just like everyone else, but when customers start heading back into dealerships, Honda is positioned to capitalize.

Go to any website about marketing and you’re sure to find an article on how it is more effective to market to current and past customers for new business than to new ones. The only problem is that if you wait until times are tough, you’re up against everyone else who is trying to do the same thing. It’s like getting off the interstate during a traffic jam to try the local roads.

On the other hand, if you deliver an exceptional experience to your customers on a daily basis they will be along for the ride when you need them – like being in the HOV lane (to carry the driving metaphor a little farther.)

Would you get a 64.7% return buyer score from your customers? If not, start building a bullet-proof customer experience from the bottom, up. Sound like a lot of work? It is. But think of it as long-term protection.

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