5 Ways to Build Trust with Modern Car Shoppers

February 17, 2016

The way that people shop for cars has changed. You know that. In fact, you’ve likely had a well-researched consumer walk into your showroom, armed to the teeth with information about the exact model he or she wants based on specifications, reviews, videos, and more found online. But what you may not have known is the answer to this question …

How do you build trust with that consumer to earn his or her purchase?

The answer to this question is vital. DME Automotive conducted a study last year that found 68% of automotive shoppers visited two or fewer dealerships prior to making a purchase. Furthermore, 80% of its respondents stated that they visited 10 websites during their process.

So, if all of this data relates to digital, what does this mean for you … in the dealership?

You need to provide the best experience when they decide to visit.

When the average consumer walks onto the lot of your dealership, this means that he or she chose your business as one of two stops (perhaps only one) after hours of research and visiting 10 different dealership websites. And you need to capitalize on that opportunity by providing the absolute best customer experience.

Here are five methods to build customer trust that will create the best possible customer service experience and earn the purchase …

  • You need to be you.

It’s absolutely vital that you are authentic. When many people think of salesmen and saleswomen at an automobile dealership, they picture a big suit and a fake smile. Don’t put on the persona of being a friend to the shopper; just actually be a friend by putting forth who you genuinely are and fulfilling the remainder of these five methods.

  • You must possess product knowledge.

It’s quite likely that consumers know more than you about the specific vehicle he or she has chosen. That’s not fault of your own—that’s the new reality of the car buying process. Consumers have focused on a single model, or even trim level. You need to make sure that your dealership has an appropriate training program in place for new hires, as well as any additional resources that help you and your colleagues demonstrate genuine knowledge of the products (vehicles) you sell.

  • You want to have conversations, not sales pitches.

A major part of having a conversation with someone is listening. Shoppers have a specific perspective, anxiety, and need about the product/vehicle or buying process, so it’s important that you’re with open ears even more so than with an open mouth. And it may prove difficult because, let’s be honest, you’re excited about the brand and about making the sale or fulfilling a service. But it’s about the consumer, who wants to talk about the cars on your lot or the service specials for a current vehicle.

  • Your brand—the dealership you represent—must have consistency.

The messaging to the consumer must remain the same. Being consistent is a primary component to establishing a truth because shoppers who know they matter to you with every interaction will yield incredible growth toward earning trust. But consistency goes beyond how you and a shopper interact:

  • It’s about online presence, like web content and social media.
  • It includes branding with logos and slogans.
  • It applies to pricing and trade-in appraisals.
  • It’s about the quality of service from all departments.

People want to know that you’re fair and trustworthy, and this consistency goes a long way to creating that feeling.

  • You need to make customers’ lives easier.

Whether or not you realize it, you’re in the solutions business. If you listen well enough (think of our #3 presented above!), you’ll have a better understanding of how to help them discover the choice of vehicle that best suits their needs. In service, send out reminders for an oil change or other routine maintenance that quickly slips to the back of one’s mind. Or send personal messages about specials or new model arrivals. Do what you can to reduce their time in the dealership and reach the right decision, and the best decision, sooner rather than later.

These 5 Methods Are Harmonious and Cooperative

You can’t successfully build trust without the total sum of these methods.

  • You’ll never make a customer’s life easier without being yourself, having product knowledge, and engaging in a real conversation.
  • You won’t be able to converse with a shopper without product knowledge or consistency.

Focus on refining these skills, and you’ll experience significant improvements on the overall perception of your dealership and your brand (your own reputation).

For further insights about the automotive industry, we encourage you to check out our other blogs. But first, we want to hear from you:

What actions are you taking that have demonstrated trust building with your customers?