In a bid to boost customer loyalty at its Nissan brand, this summer Nissan North America Inc. will launch an incentive plan that will pay dealers cash to attract repeat business.
Nissan is unhappy that it trails Toyota and Honda in customer retention and is trying to sweeten the Nissan experience.
Al Castignetti, Nissan Division vice president, says the program will try to push dealers beyond looking at customer satisfaction measurements to focus on retention and customer referrals.
"The endgame is customer loyalty," Castignetti says. "In the past, we've seen that you can be a very satisfied customer but still not be an advocate of the brand. What we want is for customers to recommend us and sing a dealer's praises."
Castignetti declined to reveal how dealers will accomplish that. He said the program mechanics are being worked out. Some Nissan dealers will begin a pilot version of the campaign July 1, followed by a nationwide rollout in October.
He declined to say how much Nissan North America intends to spend on the program.
The campaign is part of a multifront effort to keep Nissan customers coming back for new sales and more service work.
Nissan recently told dealers that it is changing its standard practice on vehicle battery warranties to be more customer-friendly. Instead of prorating the warranty value of a battery depending on its age -- as has been traditional industry practice -- Nissan plans to cover the entire cost of the battery for three years or 36,000 miles, says Miami dealer Chris Assmar, chairman of the Nissan National Dealer Advisory Board.
The brand also has doubled warranty coverage on its continuously variable transmissions to 10 years/120,000 miles.
In addition, in recent months, Nissan empowered dealers to make more on-the-spot warranty rulings rather than tell customers that the manufacturer must determine whether a repair is covered.
It is all part of the same push for customer good will, says Allen Childs, Nissan North America vice president for parts and service.
" 'I'll have to get back to you tomorrow' or 'We'll cover that cost for you' -- the difference in those two responses is significant when it comes to building customer loyalty," Childs says. "If we can keep customers coming back for service, they're more likely to return for their next car."