A Smile Goes a Long Way

March 1, 2016
Deanna Werner discusses how her positive attitude makes the entire repair experience less stressful

No matter how busy it is, how angry a customer becomes, how tough it gets, Deanna Werner says she strives to keep a smile on her face.

And with the negativity and contention that can occur at a body shop, that’s no easy task. But Werner, customer service representative for Lefler Collision and Glass in Evansville, Ind., knows that she is the basis for the entire customer experience: If a customer starts off upset with her, then that negative energy will work its way through the entire repair process.

“Her ability to stay positive and cheerful is absolutely incredible,” says Lefler vice president Eddie Dietz. “Not only do our customers and agents and vendors love her, but our entire organization seems to be in a better mood anytime they’ve been around Deanna.”

Werner details how she reads customers and approaches speaking with them, and how showing a positive, helpful, caring attitude can go a long way toward winning business and ensuring customer satisfaction.

When you talk to customers bringing in their cars, do you use any sort of script?

No, I do not. I actually don’t like scripts. It’s too obvious to the customer. It’s like when you drive up to the drive-thru and they say, “Here are our specials, can I get you one?” They don’t ask you about your day or how you’re doing, and they aren’t offering you any real help. It’s all very robotic.

So how do you approach speaking with a customer?

The first thing you do is make sure that a smile is on your face, because it reflects, even over the phone. You have to put them in the right place emotionally before you get to the dry stuff and get the information you need.

I always try to make sure that I ask them right off, “Are you OK?” They want to know you care. The main thing is you get that customer in and let them tell their story. You just have to be patient and listen to their story. Once they’re done, then you can take it from there and get the basic info you need from them.

Does that attitude especially help with people new to the repair process?

Yes, especially if it’s a tow-in situation, because the damage is probably more severe and they’re even more stressed. You have to guide the customer step-by-step through the process and let the customer know how long it takes.

Most people don’t realize how detailed and lengthy the collision repair process is: “We’re going to get our estimator out to take a look at it, get the estimate, get it off to the insurance company, get that approved, get your parts on order, get everything received, and then get your car fixed.”

Does that positivity translate to the shop culture?

It affects the overall tone of the office. It can be easy to succumb to the negativity. We try to set that tone in the front office with the customer before that estimator comes up. We get their information and get them settled with a drink, a cup of coffee. We use small talk to get them calmed down, and then it makes it easier and less stressful for everyone else interacting with that customer.

You’ve just got to keep a positive attitude. That’s just an everyday thing. You have to decide when you get up in the morning, “This is how it’s going to be. No matter what comes my way, I’ve got to keep this attitude.”

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