Developing customer trust starts by focusing on website content and features. Auto repair shop websites need to make a personal connection and communicate trustworthiness to viewers. Building a feeling of trust should be the overriding website design objective.
Selling The Invisible
People like to see, touch and try before they buy. With bricks and mortar stores shoppers want to look around, check out the merchandise, and then look the employees in the eye to gauge their trustworthiness. Its all about what they experience and the resulting feelings. Perception and body language are used to judge the business and the employees. On the web, however, people have difficulty developing the necessary trust 'feeling'. Companies are viewed with suspicion until they can connect with prospects and prove themselves.
Long term, loyal auto repair customers are looking for more than just solutions to their problems. They want to feel someone is on their side and working together to solve their problems – they want a trusting business relationship. To communicate this you need to sell 'benefits' not services. Customers don't want just services; they want what the services provide. Purchase dynamics have changed and customers view good service as achieving outcomes together rather than just buying.
Your goal for an effective auto repair shop website is to instill potential customers with confidence. Prospects want to be sure they won't be disappointed by doing business with you. Trust should be the overriding guide with every website feature and design aspect.
Since trust is such an important marketing component, building trust online is crucial in gaining competitive edge. Here is list of auto service shop website features and design elements that will help generate a feeling of trust:
- Make a personal connection with an informative About Us page.
- Provide employee photos and biographies which allow potential customers to 'meet' the people behind the business. This should be more than just their work role. Include some personal history, education, work experience and special skills, and personal interests or hobbies. Give something that people can relate to and make an emotional connection.
- And don't forget developing the business's character. A history of the company's development can provide confidence that the company has a solid reputation and will stand behind their work into the future. Show a time-line of improvement and growth both in facilities and technology. Pictures with descriptions are a great way to grab peoples interest and make your point. Develop a feeling that you will be there for them.
Testimonials From Real People
Include first and last names! Testimonials need to be about proving credibility. And don't write fake reviews! Nothing worse than perfectly composed scripts that reek phoniness.
To dramatically step up credibility of your website testimonials link them to reviews taken from your social networking profiles on Yelp, InsiderPages, Yahoo & Google Local, etc. These third party reviews provide valuable unbiased evidence for trustworthiness. Studies show that three out of four US adult web users now use social networking websites to connect with each other and almost 50% read these ratings and reviews on a regular basis!
I predict that social media will quickly replace testimonials and traditional personal recommendations from family and friends. People are learning to trust the social voice of large numbers of strangers. They see that the uncontrollable, and therefore unbiased, opinion of crowds of relative strangers is trustworthy. The social voice of the masses will dictate who wins in the marketplace. Start developing your social reputation and a record of social trustworthiness before it is necessity of doing business.
Key Person Access
Phone numbers and email addresses of key company people should be available without having to ask. If people want to speak to the boss they shouldn't have to ask who it is and how to connect with them. Provide confidence that if customers have a problem they are able to get quick, direct access to decision makers.
Customer Centric Content
Engaging, informative content is one of the best methods of building auto repair shop website popularity. But your website should be focused on meeting your CUSTOMER'S needs. A customer focused website is not a place for technical jargon or information that is of no interest to your customer. If in doubt ask yourself if the material in question 'benefits' the customer. Does it directly help them? If not, it doesn't belong there. Get yourself a personal website for your personal interests... and link to it from your personal profile.
Clearly Stated Policies
Guarantees, refunds, operating hours, questions, complaints, etcetera should all be written in plain language and predominately displayed. Also, information on how your estimates are generated can be beneficial. Any information which prevents misunderstandings can go a long way to solving many trust problems before they start.
Integrity & Service
Remember that your off-line business actions must support your online trust building efforts if you hope to retain the trust expectations people have gained from your website. Don't make statements on your website that are not practiced on a daily basis. If your website offers integrity and a focus on superior customer service then that is what customers should receive. To really impress your customers understate and over-deliver on service. Especially if you want trusting long term customers who are pleased to recommend you.
Every aspect of your website should focus on your customers and developing their trust and confidence in you. An effective trust instilling auto repair shop website is just an extension of great customer service.
 The Growth of Social Technology Adoption, October 20, 2008, Josh Bernoff, Forrester Research, Inc.