man and woman looking at car
by CDK Global | 16 July 2021

The secret ingredient to winning back Service customers? Trust.

A 2020 study conducted by the CDK Research and Insights Team found that 74% of customers who opted to go outside of a dealership for service would consider visiting a dealership in the future. This is encouraging news for dealers, as it suggests there’s potential for customer behavior to change.

But what would it take to move shoppers to not only put dealerships into their consideration set, but to choose one for service? When asked about this, shoppers expressed hesitance — specifically about dealers’ ability to:

  • Provide “trustworthy” service
  • Offer a “fair” price

These factors are closely tied. 55% of shoppers say they don’t trust dealers, and give as their reasons their own beliefs that (1) dealers frequently upsell unrequired services, and (2) don’t keep shoppers informed or updated during the service process.

Such a high percentage of customers with strong feelings of distrust is a sizable concern. But now that we have identified specific reasons for this perception, dealers can begin to address them.

Evaluating how dealers upsell.

Are shoppers right — do dealers upsell unrequired services? To be fair, some probably do. But more often, dealers upsell without adequately communicating and gaining the understanding of their customers. In both cases, it leads to confusion, unsatisfying customer experiences and loss of trust.

Dealers hoping to rebuild shopper trust around this concern should keep these points in mind:

  • Avoid unnecessary upselling (obviously)
  • Prioritize the service needed today, and be forthcoming about services needed in the future; this is particularly important to younger demographics
  • If an upsell is needed or would be beneficial, take the time necessary to fully explain the procedure, cost and benefits — and make sure the customer fully understands prior to servicing

What makes service pricing feel fair?

Exactly what makes a price feel fair can be difficult to pin down, as it varies from customer to customer. Even within a single customer it’s a shifting target — changing according to whether the service is major or a minor repair.

When major services are required, customers take into account the dealership’s level of expertise, quality of work, and the expectation that OEM-certified parts will be used. This may incline them to be flexible on price.

Minor repairs, however, are treated with less flexibility on price. This is because customers don’t feel as great a need for expertise in managing minor repairs, and are more aware of standard prices for these services.

To rebuild shopper trust around this concern, dealers should consider:

  • Prices for major services don’t necessarily have to be the lowest to be deemed “good”
  • Transparency is essential for shoppers to feel more secure and in control of their major and minor service decisions; this is particularly true for younger demographic
  • Minor services are valuable for establishing trust — and if the dealer performs agreeably, they’re often stepping stones to more expensive, major work

Seeing customers as more than sales.

There’s one more way to help repair the trust concerns of shoppers. And it goes far beyond upsells and price transparency.

Customers need to feel dealers value them as more than just providers of income. Of course, they know they’re performing a monetary function. But trust isn’t rational, it’s deeply emotional. So dealers should make these a priority:

  • Get to know your customers and listen attentively
  • Find out their personal level of service knowledge
  • Determine the level of involvement they’d like in the Service experience

With this knowledge, dealers can provide each customer with the personal attention that leads to trust — resulting in Service experiences that meet their individual needs.

Missed Part One? Read it to learn two more reasons customers don’t return, and how you can overcome them.

Check out Part Three: we’ll look at what the data tells us about retaining Service customers after winning them back.

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