Dealers can help build trust by protecting customer data


Automotive retailers are entering a new phase of consumer marketing in which successfully including customers’ choices in managing data privacy will pay long-term dividends.

Consumer concern about data privacy is high. A 2020 Consumer Reports study showed 75 percent of Americans are at least moderately concerned about their data privacy. According to a Pew Research study, just 9 percent of people believe they have “a lot of control” over the information, while 74 percent say, “it is very important to be in control.”

Dealers who provide transparency, choice and control for consumers and their data will help alleviate this anxiety. Ultimately, this will endear the customer to the dealership and will help develop stronger, trusting customer relationships.

It’s easy to forget the importance of long-term relationships in today’s transaction-based online environment where today’s sale matters most. Before the Internet, the first step in the sales process — the meet and greet handshake — helped create a relationship between the customer and the dealership. From there, trust was strengthened through interactions over time, leading to long-term sales and service customers.

With so much of the sales transaction going online today, personal customer interaction has been a casualty. The initial connection to a dealership might be a text or a chatbot. From a technology and efficiency standpoint, this is an effective strategy for automakers and dealers. However, a pure streamlined technology-only approach eliminates any relationship building in the early phases of the customer journey.

This equates to a missed opportunity for dealers to build trust with new customers. Why is this so important? According to a March study by commerce experience platform Salsify, nearly 90 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for something when it comes from a brand they trust.

Lacking trust, consumers are much more likely to turn dealers into commodities and make their decisions based on price alone.

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