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This article is one of a three part series on building trust with customers.  Part 1 deals with how you can build trust before your customer even arrives at your facility.  Part 2 addresses how a professional environment enhances trust.  Part 3 talks about how the interaction with the service advisor impacts the trust a client has in your business.

Who can you trust?  That’s a hard question.  In business, we all want the answer to be ME.  As we were forming AutoNetTV, one of the issues that kept coming up in our market research was trust.  Trust, or some variant, was among the top 3 concerns of every service center owner, service department manager or service advisor we interviewed.  Things like: Professional Image, Reputation, Standing in the Community, Credibility – sound familiar? 

These all attest to the gap in the public’s perception of the automotive service and repair industry and the reality we strive towards every day.  In fact, the feelings were so strong within our focus group, we decided to make bridging the trust gap the central theme of all we do and produce at AutoNetTV.  Here are some of the things we’ve learned.

First of all, you’re starting out behind the 8 ball.  Right or wrong, a first-time customer is not going to walk through your door full of trust in you.  There are just too many cultural biases that have to be overcome before trust happens.  But it’s critically important to keep in mind that the customer desperately wants to trust you.  Modern automotive technology is getting dangerously close to wizardry and the typical consumer has very little practical understanding of how it all works and what’s involved in fixing it or keeping it running smoothly.  We get anxious when we know we are putting ourselves at the mercy of someone with superior knowledge and skill.  All we know is that an RO can very easily become a budget buster and we hope we’re not being taken advantage of; but we’ve been culturally conditioned to suspect that we are.  Help your customer trust you.

So join me on a trip to petition the Great Wizard (Service Advisor) of OZ.   For somewhere around 80% of consumers, the trip to your center begins online.  The Yellow Brick Road is the worldwide web and if you’re not there or can’t be found you may never get the chance to build trust.  We’re seeing more and more smart marketers using social media to point to their websites.  I recently Googled an independent service center that’s been using Facebook and Twitter for some time and got 24,700 hits – pieces of content on the web that point back to his shop.  That’s a lot of ways to find the guy – ‘nough said. 

I see a lot of automotive websites every week.  Aesthetics aside, the most common mistake I see is that sites are all “Me, me, me, us, us, us.”  The hope is that if you know more about us, you’ll trust us to care for your vehicles.  But trust is built and your website needs to have trust building content.  Content that educates the customer so that he or she better understands the problem they are having and feels prepared when they come in to talk with you is the kind of content that empowers automotive decision making.  Trust in you has already taken a big step forward before they even cross your threshold.  Is your website a go-to resource for the community?  If it is, you’ll be ahead of your competition.  That’s the objective of the web videos and articles we provide in our Web Tools product – consumer friendly education content that comes weekly and is easy to share.

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