For most people around the world, a car is a big-ticket item. It is the second most expensive thing they’ll own after a house. However, automotive shopping is quite a mind-boggling experience. From customers’ perspective, buying a car isn’t quite the same as checking into a hotel or dining at a restaurant. They don’t just wake up and buy a vehicle in the morning after having the thought occur to them during the night. Instead, the process involves thorough research on various aspects such as financing options, rebates, vehicle history reports, maintenance, insurance, and most importantly safety ratings. In fact, they (automotive shoppers) are believed to spend an average of 14 hours researching vehicles online before making a purchase decision, according to a 2014 study by J.D. Power. 75 percent of this time is spent looking for a trusted dealer, making price comparisons, reading reviews, visiting dealership sites, or using shopping tools like Autolist Cars.
Why the Automotive Industry Is Experiencing Trust Issues
Unfortunately, reliable car dealerships, service companies, and auto repair shops are at times not easy to find. Lapses in emissions, multiple restatements of fuel economy, and record calls have also created a climate of skepticism and distrust. Just a few years ago, Takata, a Japanese auto company faced a major credibility crisis after evasive and misleading statement about defective airbag inflators. The faulty airbags which are associated with a series of deaths and injuries have caused one of the major compulsory product recalls in the United States. By the end of 2019, the recall is expected to affect more than 65 million airbags. This will be one of the largest and of course, the most complex recalls in US history.
Between 2009 and 2010, yet another auto manufacturer, Toyota, experienced a major trust issue after hiding the industry regulators about the sudden unintended acceleration. Reportedly, the problem caused the deaths of approximately 19 consumers and a recall of more than 5 million cars worldwide. With such trust issues, any auto brand can go from boom to bust, more so in the current digital era. For this reason, auto manufacturers and dealerships need to develop a long-lasting customer engagement plan. They need to give high regard for consumer centricity and ensure a consistent quality of customer service. This will boost trust as the foundation of customer experience.
How to Boost Customer Engagement
According to a recent Trusted Automotive Brand Report, automakers and dealers have lots of work to do in the trust-earning department. For auto brands and dealers that understand this, they establish an emotional connection with consumers. Autolist Cars, for instance, is one dealership company that has adopted this trust-booting characteristic. They have a review collection and management system in place to capture and display Autolist.com reviews from their consumers. This has helped to build trust and confidence among buyers and sellers. As a result, they enjoy a higher return on assets, maintain better revenue performance, and create a consumer base that is more likely to recommend them. Here are four tips to improve customer engagement and provide a positive showroom experience for all your customers.
Deliver Quality Consistently
Apparently, the trust can’t be demanded. It must be earned. In most cases, excellent services coupled with dependability are some of the best ways of developing consumer trust. In fact, many people agree they would trust vehicles with a proven track record for safety. Thus, auto manufacturers need to deliver quality consistently by all means.
2. Gain Customer Insights
Auto shoppers often expect the automakers to anticipate their need and desires. Therefore, as an automaker or dealer, you need to take the time to know who your target audience is and understand their expectations. Talk to them. More importantly, listen to their voices. Study their spending priorities, needs, interests and so on. This will open the door to a consistent brand connection with auto shoppers.
3. Establish a Brand Identity
Also, take complete control of the brand together with its image. Deliver an authentic and relevant brand experience to your customers. Quality assurance and sheer transparency are good tactics for building a trusted brand. Automakers and dealerships should strive to be candid and open, not just with industry regulators, but with the public as well. The last thing an auto company should do is appear insincere or hide information from consumers. Before Toyota experienced the credibility crisis, it was ranked the 7th most trusted auto manufacturer in the United States. Insincerity severely damaged its image. Thankfully, the executives acknowledged the incident, apologized and took action. This helped to patch up the company’s tainted image and win back consumer trust. However, that took years.
4. Take Advantage of Social Media
Finally, with the social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, anyone can quickly spread the news of a crisis. For that reason, dealing with consumer problems immediately is critical. To begin with, capture and scrutinize your customers’ feedback channels. This will help you identify common issues across different dealerships which could be a sign of bigger underlying problems. Also, monitoring the channels helps you to get ahead of any negative commentary. Besides, make an effort to analyze all franchises’ feedback and remember to maintain a close relationship with partnered review sites. This will give you an idea of how customers perceive your brand, and work to improve or fix the drawbacks.