Four Tips for All-Star Customer Service
“Rus and his crew went the extra mile to make sure my car looked and felt brand new.”
“Rus is honest and fair.”
“From the first moment we called, which was after hours, Rus was a pleasure to work with.”
“He even removed a few scratches that weren’t related to my job.”
“When he found out I was a college student, he gave me $20 for gas.”
These are just a few excerpts of the customer reviews that Ginger Castro, office clerk at House of Miracles in Cupertino, Calif., included in her awards nomination for Rus Brown, co-owner and shop manager.
The shop, which began as a passion project in Brown’s father’s garage, officially opened its doors in 1981 and has seen three generations of the Brown family. Brown was a constant fixture in his father’s shop, but officially took on the role of manager in 1995. Brown and his brother took over the business in 2015. The family-owned-and-operated business has a reputation in the community for delivering exceptional customer service, and the reviews and lengths to which people drive to visit the shop are a testament to that.
Brown's father has since passed away and the brothers have kept his legacy alive by continuing to provide the highest quality repairs and going above and beyond to ensure customers are happy with their overall experience. Here are Brown’s four simple tips to delivering top-notch customer service.
Put People, Not Insurers, First.
“Insurers will come and go, but people stay.”
It’s this way of thinking that causes Brown to put his customers’ needs before insurers’ demands.
Rather than catering to insurers, Brown does everything he can to get the parts that the customers want. This method has paid off. Brown says that his retention rate is around 90 percent. Brown says that most of his customers come from referrals or have found him through reviews on sites like Yelp.
Even though Brown makes it clear that his customers’ needs come first, insurers still respect the work the shop does. Brown says he works on the personal vehicles of most of the insurance agents in his area.
Hear Their Stories.
Brown says that one of the most important keys for exceptional customer service is making sure the customers feel heard. Not only does it make them feel valued, it can also give you hints on how to handle customers. Brown says to ask about the accidents that bring customers in and listen to the details that they include. If they seem really shook up that someone yelled at them, Brown says he’ll approach those customers differently than he would for customers who seem to be holding more anger about the collision.
Small Gestures Pay Off.
In the case of giving money to the college student, Brown says that he does whatever he can to help out the kids in the community. Going the extra mile, like changing a tire for someone on the house or buffing out scratches unrelated to the accident, are ways that Brown and his crew go above and beyond for their customers. And it doesn’t go unnoticed.
“The other day, I had someone drive over a hundred miles to see me with a $9,000 job,” Brown says. “He said he came because he said I did such a nice job with his son the week before.”
Little things, like washing cars and offering to check the engine light for free, are easy things for the shop to do, and they pay off in the end when the customer writes a positive review or spreads the word about them.
Make it Personal.
When the shop first opened, the landscape of the collision repair industry was different. Family-owned shops were the standard, and pulling into the driveway and greeting the owner on a first-name basis was not uncommon. Now, with the rise of consolidation, many shops have lost their personal touches. Brown says it’s important to hold on to that.
“This is a traumatic experience for them,” Brown says. “They want to feel comfortable.”
By remaining true to his father’s shop’s core values, the shop has a customer base that extends for miles and has a well-earned, positive reputation within the Cupertino community.