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Judgment is a two-edged sword: nobody likes to be judged unfairly.  But we have to make judgment calls every day.  As business people, we want people to judge us as trustworthy.  That’s a prelude to some judgmental stuff I want to say in the spirit of building trust. 

I bought a 12 year old pickup for my boys.  Another 12 years later, it’s still in the family.  A 24 year old truck driven by teenage boys always has something going wrong with it.  I took it to a national franchise service center for an oil change a while ago.  When it was time to ring it up, the Service Advisor said that the technician found something wrong and that he would like to ask him to share it with me.  I said OK and he went into the shop to get the tech.  Now the Service Advisor was allowing me to peek behind the curtain – and this is what I saw: The tech was completely filthy – not “I have a dirty job” filthy, but I haven’t washed my uniform in two weeks filthy.  His shoulder length hair looked like his uniform had been washed more recently.  His ball cap covered his eyes as he stared at my shoes and mumbled something about a transfer case leak.  He made no attempt to explain what would be involved in setting it right or the benefits I would get from taking care of the repair.

So I figure the owner or the service manger had been to a seminar where they touted bringing out the tech to deliver a service recommendation.  I’m sure that’s a valid technique, but it was poorly executed.  The tech was clearly uncomfortable, and I was sympathetic, but the encounter undermined my confidence in the shop.  I tried the service center because we do business with its affiliated service brand.  It was my first visit there – and my last.  Judgmental?  Yeah, well there are plenty of places to get an oil change and I’ll go where I’m more comfortable.

How different would my experience have been if the tech had been better trained?  His appearance would have been less of a factor if he looked me in the eye and confidently made his recommendation – one that he had seen modeled and had roll-played.  Training in customer interaction and presentation skills enables every member of the team to help build customer trust in the operation.  Just a little training and practice would have made all the difference.

In contrast to this experience, we produced a series of training videos for a national quick lube chain.  With this training tool, their techs learn how their tiered program works, how to use the point-of-sale materials and how to present options to the customer.  They saw the right way to do it and can model their own customer interaction after the training.  How different is the customer experience with a marketing-trained tech than the one I had?  How much better would I have responded to a tech that demonstrated knowledge of his product, reinforced his message with POS material and showed confidence in his recommendation? 

Although I have preferences for the brands of oil I use, all things being equal, I really don’t have a preference for who installs it.  Therein lies the problem and the opportunity: all things are never equal and the factors that make a difference are within your control.

Is trust an elusive commodity?  Not really.  People want to trust you.  It’s up to you to remove obstacles to trust and help customers have as many trust building experiences as possible.  Once you have that trust, take care of it because you may not get the chance to win it back.


Lance Boldt is V.P. and Co-Founder of AutoNetTV Media, Inc., creators of point-of-sale video tools that educate and motivate people to take better care of their vehicles. AutoNetTV