Buying a car is an emotional experience because it’s such a big-ticket item. For the average car buyer, it’s the second most expensive item they will own after their home. It’s also a long-term commitment that can last more than a decade. While consumers are spending less than 10 hours to build, price, and search inventories, it’s still a labor-intensive process with multiple opportunities to make or break trust across the buyer and owner journeys. Add to that the fact that the automotive industry as a whole has a spotty track record when it comes to trust. Locally, consumers often struggle to find reliable car dealerships, service companies, and auto repair shops. Globally, consumers have dealt with massive product recalls, lapses in emissions, and multiple restatements of fuel economy. It’s no wonder trust is so hard to come by in the auto industry. So how can the automotive industry get customer trust back on course?
The first step to building trust and creating openness in the customer relationship is to establish credibility. If customers do not feel valued throughout the purchase or service process, they will not trust what you are saying – plain and simple. This starts by listening – really listening – to the needs of the customer and their particular situation. It also includes demonstrating common courtesy and etiquette to the customer, whether they are purchasing from you for the first time or have been a lifelong, valued customer. Once trust is established, your customers will feel comfortable enough to divulge important details about the real motivations behind their reasons for contacting you. Perhaps their family is growing, and they need a larger, safer, and more reliable vehicle. Maybe they are having a mechanical issue but are unsure whether to have the dealership work on the problem. Or, they could be on a tight budget and need specific financing options. Once you have achieved disclosure, you can then make an accurate assessment of each customer’s true purchase or service needs.
Look for ways to reduce effort across every stage of the automotive buyer and owner journeys. During the buying process, this can include providing consumers with a fully immersive digital and mobile experience. Use photos and videos to showcase vehicle information, and make it easy to find pricing, reviews, and inventory online. During financing, allow consumers to complete certain steps online – even before they reach the dealership. After the sale, provide education to consumers regarding the ongoing maintenance and safety of their vehicles. Offer classes on how to change a tire or how to spot excessive wear and tear. Many OEM’s also provide detailed maintenance plans that are customized based on the owner’s vehicle and usage patterns. Remember, not all consumers speak automotive.
When consumers experience unexpected auto repairs or issues with the vehicle they just purchased, they understandably react in ways that demonstrate their frustration. Should they just pay the cost and go on their way? What happens if the recommended solution doesn’t fix the issue? What happens if they experience this issue again? These are all valid questions consumers ask themselves especially when digging into their finances to cover costs. These stressful situations are often charged with negative emotion, and more often than not, it’s your automotive staff who must try to defuse the tension and regain trust. One effective method is to communicate optimism by describing and explaining events, especially unfavorable occurrences, in ways that diminish their ability to negatively impact emotions. Consumers who express their concerns pessimistically are often looking for reassurance that the situation or problem is neither permanent nor pervasive. How your staff handles the situation will determine the customer’s perception of your brand. Make sure your team creates a positive and lasting impression by taking direct responsibility for handling the identified need, making language choices that serve to frame even negative situations optimistically, and discussing what can be done rather than what isn’t possible. It’s also helpful to show customers exactly what’s wrong with their vehicles or to have the recommended parts ready for their review. In short, be candid and open at each step of the automotive journey. When problems arise, take control of the situation and resolve issues immediately. By doing so, you’ll reduce the stress your customers feel, which increases their overall trust and engagement with your brand.
Creating a unique and authentic experience that is professional, personalized, and punctuated by moments of spontaneity can be difficult. At Startek, we help brands connect with their customers on a more meaningful level. This means helping those in the auto industry handle complex issues in ways that demonstrate certain habits to build customer trust. This requires the right training and coaching around proven communication skills so those in the auto industry can:
Through our omnichannel engagement solutions supported by the science of human communication, we can help organizations build trust and rapport with customers to grow loyalty. If you’re ready to shift your customer experience into high gear, visit our contact us page to learn more.
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