Beat the believability crisis

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Three ways to maintain credibility and retain your fixed ops customers

When we’re making decisions to purchase, no matter how great or small, it’s in our nature to discover and investigate every fact we can. We crave trust and we search for resources that can give us the facts we want. But, as we’ve seen “facts” can become dubious, since facts by themselves don’t have trust built in. Today, we turn to our network, those around us, to help us figure out what is truly believable.

Car dealerships have an added trust challenge because of the stereotype that’s been present for decades. Reinforced by lots of noise from the media, people start below the zero trust point. They become defensive even when there’s no evidence to support mistrust. What can dealers and their Fixed Ops departments do to maintain credibility with their customer with so much commotion going on?

Connect with your local customer using new media methods to demonstrate your trustworthiness. Older schools of thought advocate “reaching the masses” to prove credibility. Today, we reach one while the masses watch.

In the past, we could only connect periodically with our customer, but thanks to social media and the online community you have at your fingertips, it’s possible to remain engaged and build trust with your customer during the life of their vehicle.

Here are three useful tips to help keep and build your hard-earned credibility with customers. When it costs seven times as much to obtain a new customer than it does to retain a current one, it makes sense to focus your efforts on your happy, loyal, repeat customers.

1. Be where your customer is. I recently talked with the owner of three dealerships who has a negative opinion about Facebook. He tells a horror story about how a friend of a friend’s wife hooked up with her high-school boyfriend on Facebook and eventually divorced his friend’s friend. I get that it’s a scary place for those intermittent users, but those stories are distractions. Please don’t wear your disdain for social media like a badge. Today, that’s like bragging that you can’t read.

Don’t waste valuable time and energy when you can be interacting with your customer on a regular basis. Facebook is where your customer is, and that’s where you need to be marketing your department. Tie Facebook in with your current marketing. Put the power of social marketing to work for you.

2. Deliver consistent valuable information. The web is moving away from being built around “facts” and is being rebuilt around people and their knowledge. Brands are people too and the knowledge you have can be shared with potential customers. Help them buy from you!

Maintain an active blog with high-quality optimized content. Make sure to involve your staff because richer, compelling content comes from people and the people that work for you are the best chance you have of delivering what your customer would like to know about, right now.

Ask your service writers and parts personnel to name at least three frequently asked questions they’re asked by customers. Create a blog post answering each one of those questions. You could even do a video answer coming from your lead technician or shop foreman. Establish your store as the likable expert in what you want your customer to know most about you and your products. Customer interaction with your blog is a great way to become remarkable.

3. Your online reputation starts as an inside job. You’re on social media even if you think you aren’t. There are lots of conversations going on about your Fixed Ops department right now. There always has been. The difference is that technology has made it much easier for customers to connect with each other and share their experiences.

Therefore you need to develop a proactive internal strategy to manage your online reputation.

Vehicle repair decisions are made in an instant by what’s contained there on Yelp and Google+Local. It’s important to capture a steady stream of quality reviews from your happy, loyal customers.

Designating one employee to oversee things is a great start. Listening and monitoring is only one component though and the proactive part is a deeper endeavour. The basis of your strategy is a well-designed internal process involving your front-line personnel and your commitment and effort will match your results. The key is creating a culture where your staff know how to recognize opportunities and how to ask for those golden online referrals.

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