Building trust is hard, losing it is easy


Building trustTrust is the emotion that propels customers to the side of the gap between hope and evidence, and between expectation, experience and fulfillment.

The manner in which the OEM, dealerships and service providers manage the trust emotional gap with their customers helps drive every other component of the service encounter.

The toughest thing about the power of trust is that it’s very difficult to build and very easy to destroy. Trust must always be treated as a fragile bond, as it can be shattered through a single mistake, malfunction, misunderstanding, or mishap.   


Building and bonding the brand image is the vital component of trust and the prerequisite for every customer. This starts with your OEM. Your brand must meet or exceed customers’ expectations for it with every individual interaction and experience.

Research from Gallup shows that brand trust has a profound impact on business outcomes. The highest performing companies in Gallup’s database delivers on their brand promise three-quarters of the time, according to their customers.

Emotional involvement in a brand can lead to brand advocacy, cult brand status, and eventually to the most powerful state as a relationship brand that drives the kind of retention and loyalty companies like Apple enjoy now.

Even when customers are choosing between products in a seemingly equal environment, the emotional connection they get from a brand promise helps to differentiate. The Reader’s Digest U.S. Trusted Brands survey reported that 79 per cent of participants said they opt for a “trusted” brand when choosing between items of equal quality and price.


Once customers build their trust with the brand image, the next step is to find the trustworthy dealership where they can buy their selection with confidence.

Generally speaking, customers hate surprises and fine print. Businesses which offer a clear promise and transparent marketing appeal to customers. Those who deliver on that promise through every touch point have a significant advantage over less focused and less trustworthy business.

A business that doesn’t meet its promises to customers is typically labeled as undependable, and thus, is an untrustworthy place to buy from.

Keeping promises matters to customers — it’s an agreement between the dealership and your customers, and it lives and dies by your reputation in the market place.

There are few vital contributing factors, such as customer testimonials and community activities, that are needed to establish trust with your customers to gain and maintain their high level of confidence with products and services at your dealership business. 

Customer trust, retention and loyalty is the result of having greater levels of customer engagement, which enables you to surpass your competitors.

Fully engaged customers have a strong emotional attachment to your dealership. They’ll go out of their way to locate a favoured product or service, and they won’t accept substitutes. As true brand ambassadors, they are your most valuable and profitable customers.

The challenge many dealerships have in engaging and building trust with their customers has more to do with their workplace than with the market place.

As a product or service advisor, you’re the face of your dealership. Your first impression counts, and you can bond or break your trust with your customers. It all starts with you.


Service providers play a vital role to establish trust between the dealership and its customers. They are the driving fuel and force behind business success, but only if they understand that promise and deliver on it consistently.

Studies show that in most cases people tend to trust word of mouth as the best marketing resource tool, compared to advertisements.

The essence of building trust is to emphasize the similarities between you and the customer. As a product or service advisor, you’re the face of your dealership. Your first impression counts, and you can bond or break your trust with your customers. It all starts with you.

A while back, I helped a woman sort out the preventive maintenance for her vehicle. When I asked her for the car key, she had trouble removing it from the tight key ring. I offered my help to remove the key to prevent her nails from breaking.

While the work was being done on her car, I called her back to obtain approval for additional work that needed to be done on her car. She approved the required work without giving it a second thought. At the time of service delivery I put back her key again in the ring. Two days later she sent some feedback about her service experience:

“My trust initiated and bonded with Shah when he removed the car key from my key ring to prevent me from breaking my nails. If he cared so much for my nails, I have no doubt; he took good care of my car as well. I’ve built up so much trust in his quality customer care and if he would have said, today sun is rising from west, I wouldn’t turn around to confirm, and as a result I could not decline his recommendations and I am very satisfied with his customer service.”

Most service providers have good intentions with their customers, but their actions can be disconnected from their dealership promise and what they should really be saying and doing.

For example, a service advisor may tell a customer that their vehicle will be ready in thirty minutes after an express lube when the wait will really be over an hour. Or, a product advisor may promise to deliver a vehicle to a customer by a specific date and then fail to communicate when those vehicles end up on the back order.

In both cases, these employees believed they were fulfilling their promise, but they ended up frustrating their customers. As a result they lost customer trust.

Work ethic must be practiced and maintained all the time. There is no such thing as a harmless lie.

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