Running a Shop Sales+Marketing Customer Satisfaction Indexing (CSI) Customer Service

6 CSI Mistakes to Avoid in Your Shop

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Despite growing up in the industry, Nick Schoolcraft is no stranger to poor customer service. In fact, he readily retells one of the worst experiences he ever had as a customer: no “thank you” was delivered, he received little to no communication about the repair, and he wasn’t even aware of what repairs were being done on his vehicle.

By the end of the repair, Schoolcraft couldn’t even remember the name of the shop.

It goes without saying that the CSI survey he filled out on behalf of the shop was not positive.

It’s fitting, then, that Schoolcraft’s father is the late Steve Schoolcraft, founder of Phoenix Solutions Group, a marketing and strategy consultant company for the collision repair industry. Schoolcraft now serves as the president of the company and in the year since he took over, he says he has come to find it is critical for a shop to communicate with the customer and always ask for feedback.

Schoolcraft says there are varying definitions of CSI and what it means for a shop. While tracking the shop’s CSI score can enlighten an owner with a generic understanding of the customer’s experience, it does not show how the shop went above and beyond in its service or what is driving a shop’s growth and referral business. That is for you as the shop owner to figure out.

That’s why he believes it’s so important to ask the customer, “How can we focus on a better customer experience?”

“When we measure CSI, we are measuring our peers against each other,” Schoolcraft says. “It doesn’t help us define growth.”

That doesn’t mean that CSI can’t help your shop grow, however. Tim Paap, owner of Paap Auto Body in Coles County, Ill. says that his shop’s 100 percent CSI score is driven by processes within the shop.

Schoolcraft and Paap share the mistakes should avoid to not only achieve a higher CSI, but also overall high customer satisfaction.


Mistake No. 1: Staff does not see eye to eye.

In order to develop a shop culture focused around a purpose of serving the customer, the owner or manager needs to do more than just go out to the shop floor and ask employees how they feel about their jobs, Schoolcraft says. Instead, take time to make sure the staff communicates with each other and has an understanding of how important the delivery is to the customer.

Once a strategy is formed and ready to be incorporated into the business, Schoolcraft says the staff needs to meet daily or weekly to continuously go over reports from customers and the strategy.

Paap says when problems arise within his staff, he has a morning meeting with the team and goes over how each step in the repair can affect the customer’s overall impression.


Mistake No. 2: The customer is contacted too much.

Schoolcraft says there can be such a thing as too much communication between the customer and the shop.

“Put yourself in the customer’s mind,” he says. “You want to be informed and you want to be communicated with after the fact but you don’t want to be badgered.”

Communicate with the customer in stages, Schoolcraft says. One example would be to send the customer a handwritten thank-you note three months after the job and then follow up once more a year later. In the letter, write that the shop wants to let the customer know they are here for them and ask the customer to let the shop know if any additional service needs to be done.

Above all, the communication should not include advertisements, Schoolcraft says. Instead the shop should aim to demonstrate they know how the vehicle works, are in tune with the car and are available to fix their “craftsmanship” if needed.


Mistake No. 3: The shop neglects customer feedback.

Customer service that is tracked by CSI, but that really only gives the shop about 30 percent of the picture, Schoolcraft says.

He says a business needs to investigate why the customer chose the shop and how they came to the shop, versus merely focusing on how the customer felt about the experience.

While the goal should always be a 100 percent CSI score, the overall emphasis should be on ways to receive a significant volume of meaningful, impactful feedback.

Schoolcraft says he recommends asking a customer to fill out an online or in-person review so the shop staff can circle back around to having a way to contact them after the repair.

Paap says he tracks his shop’s CSI personally so he can determine if the shop needs to improve or not. And, he reaches out to the customer with heavier jobs at least every other day.


Mistake No. 4: The customer is overwhelmed with complex terms.

It is a bad idea for shop staff to overwhelm the customer when they first walk into the shop, Schoolcraft says.

Instead of explaining the repair process, he says staff should speak in plain language. For example, an employee can work on being empathetic and having a better understanding of their situation. Specifically, for blueprinting and the teardown process, the staff can explain the situation of tearing apart the car like peeling back the layers of an onion in order to gain the end result.


Mistake No.5: The shop does not create a lasting impression.

Approaching interactions with the customer in tactical and personal ways after the repair is important, Schoolcraft says.

Based on a study done by Phoenix Solutions Group, as people get further and further away from the time of the accident and the repair on their vehicle, a person’s memory of the shop decreases dramatically, he says. In fact, six months after the repair, 50 percent of customers forget the shop’s name.

“They might remember the repair and the general area but don’t remember the name,” he says.

A lasting impression can be a positive one if it starts within the repair, Schoolcraft and Paap agree. If there are delays early on or later, inform the customer immediately. Then, stay in touch after the repair albeit briefly.

“Quality means a customer base and that you don’t have vehicles coming back,” Paap says.


Mistake No. 6: Staff blame repair issues on other parties.

Not only is it beneficial for the shop to keep the customer updated on any unexpected delays, the way to approach the update is critical, Schoolcraft says.

He says the staff should focus on the outcome and not the problem.

No matter the reason, the shop needs to not place blame, Schoolcraft says.

“Say, ‘We are working on X for you, going to ensure X and speed up the process,’” Schoolcraft says.

He says that when people are in a stressful situation and dealing with adversity, people are more likely to remember how the resolution came about, instead of the outcome. The car will be late no matter what, so work on being compassionate and empathetic, Schoolcraft says.

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