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Put Yourself in the Customer’s Shoes

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My wife had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of a fender bender recently. Nothing major, just a light front-end hit from someone backing into her in a parking ramp.

But our vehicle, a 2008 Subaru Tribeca, was damaged enough to warrant the services of a collision repair facility. You’d think, as the editor of a collision repair magazine serving shops spanning the country, that I’d have some go-to places, but this was actually the first significant accident in our family (and it wasn’t really all that significant), and so it was the first time I needed to find a shop as a customer.

Based on the experiences of some of my colleagues, I chose Latuff Brothers in St. Paul, even though Progressive, the insurance company covering the repair, strongly suggested going to one of their preferred facilities. (As a side note, listening to the insurance representative teeter on the line between steering and recommending was an eye-opening experience).

I’m glad I stuck with the shop, as it ended up being one of the best, hassle-free customer experiences I’ve ever had with any business. From the warm greeting (full disclosure: I didn’t mention my job to the receptionist and I’m pretty sure she didn’t know who I was), to the thorough estimate (done by estimator Robert Latuff, who did know who I was), to the high-quality repair done exactly when the shop said it would be, it was a no-frills experience that left me 100-percent satisfied and ready to return should I ever need another repair.

We’ve written about a wide variety of sales, marketing and customer service strategies over the years here at FenderBender. There’s a feature focused on one such tactic in this very issue—“Lights, Camera, Action!” which looks at a shop’s use of TV commercials. All of the strategies we cover have merit and have proven to be successful in real shops. But there’s a lot to be said for simply honing in on perfecting your repair process and meeting (or exceeding) customers’ needs.

I went to Latuff Brothers because of a referral. I received that referral for the same reason I will now gladly refer other customers to the shop—they treat people well, are honest, set clear expectations, and meet or exceed those expectations.

My vehicle was not only repaired on time, but it was well-detailed and looked better than it did before the accident.  From my walk in the customer’s shoes, providing a solid experience like that should be the base of any marketing strategy.  

And I guess I have a go-to place now if anyone asks.

Jake Weyer
jweyer@fenderbender.com

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