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Building trust in the digital car buying process

“It takes an age to build, a second to break and forever to repair.” We’re not talking about head gaskets here, we’re talking about trust.

Most car dealerships would doubtless agree it’s a key component of the car buying journey. Yet as more and more of the sales process is conducted online, it raises the question of how dealerships can build that sense of trust in the digital age.

With digitisation replacing much of the human interaction in the car-buying process, it certainly appears to make relationships a lot harder to build.

But looked at from a different perspective, there are now more opportunities than ever to engage with customers across multiple channels – and every touchpoint represents a chance to foster trust and confidence between brand and buyer.

These ‘micro-moments’ are more than just a chance to make a sale. They’re the building blocks for a long-term bond that sees customers coming back to you time and again.

So, just how do you capitalise on the opportunities of the digital era, and create a successful trust-building strategy? Let’s look at a few key areas to explore…

Dealership showroom

Developing an omni-channel strategy

Like most modern-day sales processes, the car-buying journey now takes place across multiple channels, on multiple devices.

But it’s not enough to simply establish a presence across multiple platforms – you have to deliver a coherent and joined-up customer experience that allows buyers to move between channels in seamless fashion.

That’s what an ‘omni-channel’ approach is all about – the integration and consistency of customer touch-points, whether they’re browsing your website, researching on social media or visiting the dealership in person.

For instance, if a customer enquires about a vehicle via your website, is that enquiry or preference reflected in your future email marketing? Can your in-store reps access that (and other data) easily if the customer drops by the forecourt?

The more joined up your approach, the more the customer gets a sense of personalised service – a signal that they’re dealing with a proper outfit that they can trust. If your strategy beyond the forecourt is shaky, your customer’s trust in your brand will be too.

A worthy website

At the heart of an omni-channel strategy sits your website. In the modern world, many a bond is broken by a poorly performing website – so it simply has to be professional, easy-to-navigate and, above all, mobile friendly.

The content you provide online is key, too. The more detail you can provide about your vehicles the better – as any missing information could be seen as having something to hide.

This is particularly important for second-hand dealerships, who have historically had a challenge on their hands to build a trustworthy reputation. Uploading documents like V5 or service history records provide assurances for the customer, and gives them confidence in what they’re buying.

Building trust through video

They say the camera never lies – but in the modern age of photoshop and filters, images are arguably less trustworthy than they once were. In the automotive world at least, it’s the video camera that’s now the most trusted source of information.

If you’re already using video, you’ve made a huge step forward in the quest to gain customer trust. By bringing high-quality video content to potential buyers, you’ll allow them to get closer than ever to your vehicles without seeing them in person.

As well as showcasing your cars in the most honest, insightful format, video also helps build the bond between your sales team and the prospective buyer.

Research shows that despite increasing reliance on self-service, car-buyers of all ages still value face-to-face contact – so the presence of your staff in the videos could be key to customer confidence.

Social proof (and the importance of review sites)

Who is your best salesperson? In this day and age, it might just be the guy or girl you sold your last car to – and that’s not just because buyers naturally seek the opinions of friends and family on big-ticket items like cars.

The rise of social media means that happy customers can be increasingly influential even on people they’ve never met, effectively acting as online advocates for your dealership.

Indeed, more than 92% of consumers admit they read online reviews before committing to a purchase online – and 80% say they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

These incredibly high figures show just how important it is to engage customers post-sale, and to incorporate their feedback in your marketing and sales strategy.

Where the feedback is positive, it can be leveraged to win the trust of others – and where it’s not, constructive criticism can be key to raising your game.

Customer reviews

In summary…

Digitisation might have reduced your face-to-face time with the modern car buyer – but there’s still plenty of opportunities to win their trust. In fact, there’s more than ever.

Through a professional website, consistent, quality content and a smart social media presence, you can give your customer confidence at every turn.


This blog is part three of four in our “Understanding the Modern Day Buying Journey” series. To learn more download the full white paper here.

The guide includes exclusive research into the needs of the modern day buyer – helping you meet their expectations, and ultimately increase sales.


To read the previous blog, follow this link.
To read the first blog, follow this link.