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Guest opinion: top tips for building consumer trust in your business

Edmund King, AA president

That little five-letter word ‘trust’ is the essential ingredient of sustainable business success. Consumers need to trust that your brand will deliver on its promise in every interaction or they’ll simply vote with their wheels and look elsewhere.

It doesn’t matter if it’s industry or politics, a firm belief in the reliability of a product, service or what a politician might say is critical.

And when that trust is broken, consumers or civil society either withdraw from participation or protest at feeling mistreated.

Most of us will recall one of the biggest blunders in business history - the former chief executive of high street jewellery chain Ratners describing one of his products in 1991 as “total crap”.

Gerald Ratner went on to say at the Institute of Directors in London that his stores’ earrings were "cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich but probably wouldn't last as long”.

His ill-judged comments led to customers boycotting Ratners’ stores and accelerated the decline in Britain’s biggest jewellery group, wiping £500 million from its value almost overnight.

The same is true in politics. Whenever the AA asks drivers whether road pricing would be fairer than paying taxes by a combination of fuel duty and car tax, we get a balanced response with half in favour and half opposed.

However, when we then ask whether drivers would trust the Government to come up with a fair system of road pricing, the vast majority routinely disagree (86%).

This is one of the reasons why national road pricing is always at least 10 years away, and perhaps why it has been described as a ‘poll tax on wheels’.

Consumers simply won’t trust brands they can’t rely on.

They certainly won’t buy from you, let alone stay loyal and tell others positive things about your brand. That’s why focusing on your customers and delivering outstanding service is so important.

As dealers you will know all too well, the relationship with the customer is everything. They have to feel safe before they’ll buy a used car. They have to trust the product is reliable.

They want that value for money. If there are any problems or concerns they want to know that these will be resolved sympathetically and professionally.

Again if the customer is happy with the purchase, they’ll come back and above all be your greatest advocate.

Having an excellent product and providing an excellent service is what we all should want in business.

My advice is straightforward - it goes without saying don’t ‘do a Ratner' but above all don’t miss an opportunity to build trust and respect with your customers.

Author: Edmund King OBE, AA president (pictured)

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