Building Customer Trust

How To Build Trust With Customers

It’s a common misconception that a customer’s number one priority in buying a car is price. We’ve seen time and time again that this is not the case. The cost of a vehicle typically ranks at 4 or 5 on the list. The average customer values trust and convenience above anything else when buying and servicing a car. If a customer has a seamless and pleasant experience when it comes to something like getting their oil changed at a dealership, they are much more likely to come back. Trust is currency and it’s the only way a dealer can consistently retain customers. 

Make a Good First Impression

The best way to build that trust is by making a good first impression. Second chances are hard to come by in the automotive industry, so it’s crucial for dealers to get things right on their first try. The average customer only shops between 1.4 and 1.7 dealerships before buying a car. Gone are the days of browsing 4-5 different dealerships before making a decision. An unfortunate reality is that only a third of a typical dealership’s customers will return to get their car serviced. That has everything to do with first impressions. It means being able to answer a customer’s questions on the spot and providing them with all the information they need to make an informed decision, not just handing them a pamphlet and sending them on their way.

Convenience and Communication

The line is hard and fast for consumers: if buying a car or getting it serviced from a dealership is a hassle of any kind, it is not a good business decision. Covid shed light on the gaps in the automotive industry. Before the pandemic, roughly 90 percent of inbound service calls were to schedule appointments. In a post-Covid world, that number dropped to 70 percent and now a whopping 30 percent of calls are customers inquiring about the status of their car. Dealers have unintentionally created one of their biggest problems and it’s on them to solve it. 

If a customer can’t trust a dealership to be communicative and deliver the result they promised, that customer will very likely take their business elsewhere. Communication is not just sending an email or a text and calling it a day. That is simply checking a box, ticking another item off of a to-do list without actually accomplishing the task at hand. Communication is a live conversation, a back-and-forth where a customer can have their questions answered in a timely fashion. Taking a few hours to get back to a customer might as well be a few weeks because by then, it’s very likely that they’ve moved on. Dealers must strike while the iron is hot. 

Communication isn’t only important when a customer is buying a car. It’s equally as vital when it comes to servicing a vehicle. If someone drops their car off at a dealership to be serviced and they have to call to get a status update, only to be put on hold for thirty minutes or passed around to different departments, it is all but guaranteed that they will not be a repeat customer. There is no excuse for poor communication in the digital age. Dealers have all sorts of text message notification services at their disposal to alert customers of the status of their vehicles every step of the way. 

Transparency = Trust

According to NADA, 56 percent of cars that go through a service lane at a dealership are under-serviced. Dealers are rightfully concerned with overselling a customer, they don’t want to seem like they’re pushing unnecessary products or services on someone. But the reality is that customers would rather know every issue or potential issue with their vehicle and then make the decision themselves. They can’t make that decision if dealers don’t give them all of the proper information. If a customer drives off in their car thinking everything is fine, and then a week later something goes wrong, they’ll wonder why the service department at the dealer didn’t catch the problem. And now suddenly what should’ve been one trip to get the car fixed has turned into two or three. When dealers are transparent with their consumers, it builds trust and ultimately a long-lasting partnership.