Courtney Eckerle

How Mr. Lube Canada Leveraged Data to Create a Personalized Customer Experience

May 15th, 2017

Canadian chain of automotive maintenance service centers Mr. Lube was challenged with customer retention and relationship management across the various touch points.

Before her session at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017, Andrea Shaikin, (Former) Director of Customer Experience and Engagement, Mr. Lube, sat down with me in the Media Center to discuss how her team approached the challenge.

Andrea said that the first and biggest issue (as it is with many marketers) was data.

“We had so much data. It was unbelievable. Transactional information going back 40 years, but we couldn’t use it for customer information. We didn’t actually know what people were doing [because] our unique identifier was the license plate, not the person,” she said.

The team had no clue how to meaningfully interpret the data to give people the information they needed at the actual time when they needed it. The team had to find a way to do that, without changing too many of the systems for the financial reporting purposes.

Step #1. Find a partner for support

The first thing Andrea did was find a partner to help support what the team was trying to do, and offer up some expertise and the infrastructure to make it happen.

“At first we tried a number of different things, including trying to build something in-house and it was exceptionally tough; we really didn’t have all that we needed in terms of our technology and our systems to support that,” she said.

Once they found a partner that was able to understand their needs, the team set to work in building up an existing system on top of the data that they had.

“Something that could hold all of the information like a repository, like a better filing cabinet and sort the information that we needed within that, instead of changing our existing system,” she said.

This helped the team with their internal buy-in, she said, because “people were very afraid of change, and they thought that if we made something new, we’d break the old thing. So this helped a lot.”

Step #2. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes

To interpret what data would be useful and what was only clutter, Andrea said it was important for her to put herself in the customer’s shoes.

“I’m actually a customer of Mr. Lube, so I understood that I wanted to be communicated with in certain ways,” she said. “That means that I had a bit of a view in to what kinds of information is important.”

Some of the transactional information wasn’t that important when communicating with a customer, she said. She had to think about what she, as a customer, would need to pick out the most important data. If they discovered they needed any additional data later, it would be easy to go back in and find it.

“We didn’t start huge; we started on a manageable scale and worked from there,” she said.

What customers receive now is a subtle change, Andrea said, but the difference is in the relevancy.

“What you receive now as a customer is relevant communication. You don’t just get a reminder after 90 days, you get an email based on  your actual cadence of visits,” she said.

Customers also won’t get an email based on a previous service visit, but based on a service they haven’t tried yet.

“There’s a lot more variability and relevance in communications. Not to mention the fact that they look much nicer than they used to they were very text-based, and they’re much more modern. In addition to having the data-driven, we actually did a creative upgrade at the same time,” she said.

Step #3. Track and learn from success metrics

Mr. Lube recently started sending emails based on that work and campaign procedures, but what they found was a large increase in open rates and clickthrough rates.

“Almost a 200% increase in open rates, and double digit clickthrough rates,” Andrea said. “Obviously it’s more engaging, because what’s being sent to the customer is more engaging based on their real behavior.”

Also, she said, the email campaigns are a lot cleaner with reduced bounce rates by about 20%.

“It’s just a result of being able to see into the data a little bit better. It makes it far easier to send a true communication to a true customer,” she said.

Going into the future, the hope is to build additional customer journeys, she added. For example, one for certain types of auto maintenance services, where additional services can be easily added as Mr. Lube adds them in.

“It’ll be something that they can scale over time. So, I think that’s something I would advise to anyone you don’t have to do it all at once in every case. Sometimes you need to start small and start from there,” she said.

Step #4. Understand that it’s a long journey

“It took a very long time. It took a long time to find the right partner and to find the right approach to sift through all the data, that took hours and hours, to build all the requirements and be able to actually get the program off the ground,” Andrea said.

That’s why it was so important, she added, to set up the expectations from the get-go that it was going to be an on-going process built up over time.

“It seems to be a really nice approach and has made everyone more comfortable with the change,” she said. “We weren’t that stressed out about the amount of time it would take, and when we found a couple of glitches and had to fix some of the previous work that we had done, we were prepared for that.”

The glitches the team ran into were mostly because they were dealing with a very old system that was built to handle point of sale transactions and financials.

“There were things underneath that we didn’t know were there. A few fields that couldn’t be exported, a few things that were hard-coded that we didn’t realize … things we thought we could adjust but we had to live with,” she said.

However, that’s just “part of the process,” she added. “I’ve never worked on a project where you didn’t run into at least one of those glitches. It’s just a matter of finding out how to deal with it.”

Divulging the details on how the team navigated the process with those bumps along the road was important for Andrea to share in her Summit presentation, she said.

“A lot of times you come to an event like a conference, and people tell you that they did this great job, but they don’t tell you how,” she said. “They don’t share with you that it was tough to do. You walk away thinking, ‘why can’t I do that?’ The fact is, you have to be honest about all the work that it takes.”

Follow-up webinar with Andrea

Andrea will be joining MarketingSherpa for a webinar (click here to register) to discuss these efforts more in-depth, held on May 24 from 2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. EDT.

She will be discussing:

  • How to determine what data is most important
  • How to transform that data into rich customer insights
  • How those insights can inform personalized messaging
  • How to leverage personalization across an entire purchase process

Using these tactics, Andrea will go over how Mr. Lube was able to achieve a 29% increase in open rate, a 222% increase in clickthrough rate, and a 20% decrease in bounce rate.

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Courtney Eckerle

About Courtney Eckerle

With a focus on aspirational, customer-first marketing, Courtney’s goal has been to produce clear, interesting and actionable external content for MarketingSherpa readers. This has included writing over 300 case studies, moderating live event interviews, and producing video content. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Mass Communications and Film Studies from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., and was a correspondent for USA Today College prior to joining MECLABS Institute.

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