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

In the Wizard of OZ, when Dorothy and the gang get to the gates of the Emerald City, they don’t have an easy time of getting down to business – the gatekeeper saw his job as keeping people out – not welcoming them in.  Personally, when I take my vehicles in for service, I appreciate being greeted right away, in the parking lot, at the door or as soon as I step in.  A friendly contact is important to trust building: I feel acknowledged immediately and, more importantly, I’m not left to myself and my percolating fears.  I then gauge professional image with a quick glance around the room.  I like to see neat and orderly: it tells me that the business is run according to procedures and that there is some discipline (I won’t be paying for a lot of mistakes). 

Clean is a must: when the chairs are dirty and greasy, I wonder how my car is going to come back.  I even like seeing a menu board with prices on it: it helps ease worries about the cost: even if some of the services are more than I thought they would be, at least I know. And I get a sense of how the shop values its work.  Signs or cartoons like “We guarantee fast service – no matter how long it takes” send a very negative impression of how my business will be valued.  These are simple things that remove roadblocks to trust.

I know I’m going to be doing some kind of waiting: waiting to talk with the service advisor, waiting for an inspection, waiting for a service or repair, waiting for a ride, waiting to settle payment.  This is a tremendous opportunity for the service center to seize control of the waiting experience in a way that fosters trust.  Since AutoNetTV’s core product is a Lobby TV program designed to do just that, let me explain the concepts we use to enhance the waiting experience. 

In Part 1 we touched on the anxiety that your customer is feeling.  It’s a given.  So the waiting area should be relaxing.  TV is great for relaxing, but you need to be careful.  A lot of daytime programming isn’t family friendly.  The news can be upsetting and a bad economic report may get people thinking about spending less on their vehicle.  Probably worst of all is competitors’ commercials right in your house.  “Why is brand X advertising a brake job for $45 dollars less than you’re charging me?”  So our programming cuts out all of those things that weaken customer trust and adds in segments that build the industry and show the economic, safety and performance benefits of the services you offer.

Any of the point-of-sale material you have on the walls, floor or counter should foster trust.  Material that contains a lot of industry jargon, is too technical or salsy will actually add to a customer’s anxiety and undermines trust.  Select material that simply focuses on benefits.

Here’s an idea: Take your mom out to lunch and then bring her by the service center.  Gather her impressions of the parking lot, the waiting area, furnishings, decor, displays, the bathroom, etc.  See if there’s anything that makes her uncomfortable in any way.  If there is, get her ideas on what she would do to fix it.  Now, do what your mother says.

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