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This article is the third 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.

Now it’s time for the Wizard – service advisor – to approach me with recommendations.  We appreciate knowledge and confidence in a service advisor.  This is not an excuse for arrogance, condescension or dismissiveness. 

When I was young with a very tight budget, the front left brake on the minivan was grinding.  I took it in for brake pads.  I waited for a brake inspection.  When the inspection was completed, I was told that the rotor was cracked and needed to be replaced.  I really didn’t have the money for that so I told the service advisor to just put on new pads and I would wait on the repair.  He said he couldn’t do that because he didn’t want the pads coming back on warranty.  I said then just put it back together and I’d wait until I could afford it.  He said there were two ways to get the van out – let them replace the rotor and pads or to have it towed – my choice.

Knowing what I know now, the service advisor could not ethically do what I asked under MAP standards.  Knowing what I did then, I reluctantly had the repair done, was pissed about it and probably told 20 people about how I got ripped off and to never go to that place.  Was I to blame for being an ignorant consumer or was the service advisor to blame for not caring to take three minutes to help me understand the issue and feel good about what needed to be done?  From a bottom-line standpoint, I’m gonna say it was him.  His shop never got another dime of business from me. 

This service advisor missed a tremendous trust building opportunity.  He could have helped me understand that I actually had a dangerous situation that, for the safety of my family, needed to be properly repaired.  He could have expressed sympathy for the financial aspect while he helped me prioritize the transaction in my mind.  He could have become a Trusted Advisor.

Instead, I felt hijacked, belittled and disrespected.  I honestly thought that he had taken my car apart and was holding it hostage so that I would do what was best for HIM.  So if you’re going to do the right thing, do it the right way.  Bad news handled properly engenders trust.  And trust built under adversity is strong and will stand the test of time.

We coach our AutoNetTV customers on how to use their Lobby TV and/or Web Tools products at point of sale to build trust in their recommendations.  When you can pull up a segment on the TV or computer for the customer to watch, it deescalates the tension, reinforces the recommendation with third-party information and empowers the customer’s decision.  They may not be tickled pink at spending the money, but they are grateful that you are helping them take better care of their vehicle. 

Is trust an elusive commodity?  Not really.  Like I said in Part 1, 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, first as you market to them, and then as you serve them.  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 Lobby and point-of-sale video tools that educate and motivate people to take better care of their vehicles.