Building trust with service customers is an ongoing challenge, and dealers often overestimate how much customers actually trust them. A recent survey by MAX Digital reported that nearly 70 percent of dealers believe customers trust them, but in reality only 9 percent of consumers reported having a high level of trust in car salespeople.
Many car owners have negative perceptions of dealership service departments. Dealerships are often perceived as untrustworthy establishments that prey on unsuspecting customers with shady business practices. Customers are turning away from dealers and toward independent repair shops for their service needs. To stay competitive, dealers are working to break down the negative stereotypes and reward customers with a reliable, quality service experience. Here are a few tips for building trust with your service customers.
In 2015 NADA reported an annual turnover rate of 39% among service advisers. While service technicians often stay at one dealership for years, service advisors tend to leave quicker and more often. Service advisors are the face of your service department. They are the customer’s primary point of contact when their car is in the shop, and high quality service advisers help retain customers. If you replace your service staff frequently, you are missing opportunities to establish trust with longtime customers.
Take your time and go through a thorough vetting process when hiring service advisors. Don’t settle for employees with a long track record of short-term positions. Hiring quality service advisors will greatly improve the customer experience in your service department.
Let’s say you’re visiting a fancy steakhouse for dinner. You order the filet mignon, and the person sitting next to your orders the same. Upon receiving your check, you realize the person next to you was charged less for the same exact meal. You’d probably be pretty upset, right? Would you return to that restaurant again?
Unfortunately, this kind of treatment is often expected in dealerships. Allowing your pricing to change on a customer-to-customer basis calls into question the fairness and integrity of your business. A specific service will always require certain parts and take a certain amount of time to complete, so shouldn’t the cost stay the same? Listing your prices on a printed menu shows that you are transparent and fair to all customers. It alleviates the customer’s fear of being taken advantage of.
Service advisors are salespeople, and the upsell is an integral part of the service. However, you need to be willing to put the customer’s best interests first when it comes to recommending service. Don’t try to sell the customer on a service they don’t need. This is a major red flag, and you’ll likely lose that customer when they get a second opinion and realize they don’t need what you recommended. Service recommendations are only valuable if they are delivered in an accurate and appropriate fashion.
Your service advisors should aim to educate customers about preventative maintenance and timely services. Use pictures and videos to illustrate the repairs you recommend. Establish rapport by offering regular maintenance tips without being pushy. When you are honest with your recommendations, your customers will trust and respect you. In turn, they will be much more valuable to your business in the long run.
Building trust with your customer base is a long-term commitment, and you need to be willing to consider what your customers truly need and want. If you continuously betray your customers’ trust with shady business practices, they will take their money elsewhere. If you’re willing to raise the bar and offer reliable, high-quality service, you’ll have their loyalty for life.