AKRON — One sure way to attract millennials to your shop is to make tire shopping as convenient as possible, according to Tyler Brunatti, head of automotive services at Podium Corp. Inc., a business consultancy dedicated to helping retailers develop effective online customer communications strategies.
"What is the convenience economy?" Mr. Brunatti asked during the recent Tire Business Educates Live Online Conference & Expo. "And how does convenience drive customer loyalty?"
Today's consumers base their purchasing decisions on two factors, Mr. Brunatti said. The first is confidence in the products and services being offered, and the second, still more important, is convenience — the customer's preference for someone who is easy to work with over someone who is not.
In his own case, Mr. Brunatti said, he was looking for someone to clean out his gutters. Out of the four or five he contacted, the contractor he ended up choosing was the most expensive, but he also was the most convenient to communicate and work with.
"Customers are choosing your business out of convenience, and that's why you're going to win," he said.
The key traits of the convenience economy, according to Mr. Brunatti, are:
Consumers are in control. "Put yourself in the customer's shoes," he said. "Consumers are in control as to how they want to communicate, who they want to communicate with and what they know about the products and services you offer even before they talk to you."
Consumers' expectations are very high. "Because they have that information at their fingertips, they have this on-demand experience and expect you to have methods of communication in place. If you don't, they'll go elsewhere."
Consumers today expect transactions to be almost frictionless, Mr. Brunatti said. Amazon.com has led them to expect to buy goods and services with one click, to the point that they do all their Christmas shopping online.
They also expect quick and seamless delivery of products and a quality mobile experience, he said.
"Amazon has nailed this," he said. "That's why they're such a success.
"Everyone lives on their cell phone today," he said. "I have a laptop with me all the time, but most of my business is conducted over the phone. My point is that you have to create this quality mobile experience for your customers, because that's what they expect."
Providing this sort of convenience is imperative for today's shop owners, according to Mr. Brunatti, because it drives customer satisfaction.
"I never again want to go to a mall if I can shop from the convenience of my own couch," he said. "It's the same for your shop. Customers are more likely to schedule an appointment with you if they can do it by email."
Meeting the expectations of millennial customers is a sure way to win repeat customers, he said, offering several tips tire store owners can follow to get a leg up on their competitors:
Be easy to find online. Tire shops, like all other businesses, should make sure they make the most of search engine optimization (SEO). "Sixty-seven percent of clicks go to the top five listings," he said. "Make sure you're the one who shows up first." Uploading quality photos on your website, making sure your contact information is consistent across the Internet and collecting favorable online reviews are good ways of making sure you show up high on the SEO list.
Make sure it's easy for customers to connect with you. "Once customers do find you, 89 percent would like the option to message a business, but only 48 percent have that capability." Google Click-to-Message, Facebook Messenger, web chats, live chats, text messaging and Instagram are all message avenues customers often use.
Make it easy for customers to give you their money. "Mobile payments are more convenient, more secure and provide a better customer experience."
Create a seamless transaction in both your online and office experience. "If a customer has a great online experience, when the customer goes offline and is standing in front of you, you need to understand why they're there." It is imperative for you to keep your online inventory up to date, and also to keep a record of online interactions.
Set the expectations of your customers. "Help them understand what is going on with your business. Let them know how long it will take for service and the cost of the service. Send them service reminders via text. That functionality is available today, versus mail reminders that are usually just thrown away. I prefer and demand this convenience."
Lehi, Utah-based Podium describes itself as a leading review management platform that helps businesses collect and manage online reviews. Podium tracks review analytics and provides businesses the ability to boost their online reputation and SEO ranking.