Running a Shop Shop Customers Customer Service

Interact Properly with Customers

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No shop wants to deal with a comeback customer. There are few things worse than someone who returns to the shop with a complaint about a repair, especially if that complaint is valid.

If you’re committed to satisfying the customer, such situations eat up valuable time and money. And even if you fix the issue, there’s no guarantee you’re going to retain that customer, or win their referrals. How you interact with the customer—in addition to how you go about making things right—can make all the difference.

Last month, for the first time in my few experiences as a collision repair customer, I was the comeback guy. I had a crack in my deck lid repaired a while back and noticed that I could see sand marks on the repaired area—sand-scratch swelling, the shop told me later. As a customer (and this was a customer-pay job), it’s a terrible feeling to shell out hundreds of dollars for a repair, only to have it come back needing further work.

Plus, I had a good relationship with the shop, and being the non-confrontational person that I am, I dreaded taking the car back.

But from the moment I called, the shop assured me that they wanted to make it right. They took the car in, explained how the flaw happened, repaired it at no additional charge and told me how glad they were that I came back. In handling the situation, the shop used several of the communication methods outlined in this month’s customer service story, “Show You Care.” Tactics such as educating me about how the flaw occurred, showing concern, listening, using a friendly tone, etc.

I can tell you that even though the repair wasn’t perfect the first time around, I left with a sense that the shop truly cared about my vehicle, my satisfaction, and maintaining me as a customer. The deck lid looks great now and I will use the shop again if I ever have the need.

How does your shop handle comeback customers? Hopefully you don’t have many, but I’d be interested to hear about your tactics for satisfying and retaining those individuals when a problem does come up.

The story I mentioned is one in a great Strategy section lineup put together by staffers Andrew Johnson and Bryce Evans. In addition to the steps for communicating with empathy, you’ll find an article on utilizing cost-accounting features in your management system and another on creating an incentive-based pay plan for estimators. In the latter, you can read about three shops with different incentive plans that have helped drive sales.

Our main feature this month is on a couple of shop operators in their 20s who overcame a mountain of obstacles to grow a century-old shop. We take a look at the industry’s youth at least once each year and this duo is more proof that the industry’s future looks strong.

As always, share your feedback and your own stories by getting in touch with me, or making a post on or our Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+ pages.

Jake Weyer

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