Managing customer expectations during a collision repair is essential to ensure a successful repair and create an outstanding experience for the customer. Customers rely on us to provide quality repairs as well as timely results. However, both are generally considered our apparent responsibilities. Ensuring we can perform a proper repair utilizing the representing insurer's financial restraints is not something that we can accept responsibility for. As shop owners, we tend to believe that if we don't "bend" or "follow the rules" of the insurer, we will lose customers and residual business and risk our sustainable workflow. I would challenge that level of thinking and ask that you consider those concerns as nothing more than the potential impacts of failing to set accurate consumer expectations. Therefore, we must excel at establishing and maintaining them with all consumers.
'Load the bow'
When expectations are appropriately managed, customers are more likely to be satisfied with the service they receive. Your shop must communicate clearly with customers from the outset to set expectations for the repair process. Providing customers with an accurate timeline and avoiding the "estimated" cost of repairs is critical. We refer to this as "loading the bow." I'm not a hunter, but I'm told that initially pulling back the string to load a bow is tough. Then, once you reach the sweet spot, the bow absorbs all of the weapon's tension, and you can hold the bow in a loaded position almost effortlessly for as long as needed. The target should include accurate "damage assessments." These will help consumers feel more confident about moving forward with their decisions and your services.
When initially working to set expectations, supporting your facility's position with third-party data is essential. Consumers rarely believe what they hear and often only what they can read, see, or touch. So, gather supporting evidence and have it at arm's reach in your lobby.
For example, if the use of alternative parts is the concern, have policy verbiage examples, crash test results, and video content that explains the impacts other customers had when entertaining the use of these parts during their repairs. In addition, it is essential to be aware of co-payments when quoting a customer on the expected costs for their repair. As we all know, co-pays can vary significantly. However, as professional repairers, we hold zero obligation to insurers.
Focus on providing clear communication
When managing consumer expectations during a collision repair, it is important to stay focused on providing clear communication. This ensures that consumers understand the process before getting started. Consumers love steps. With that in mind, determine how you would recommend all claims begin with and use it to define a shop standard. Then, put it in writing. Follow it by step 2 and so on. Keep it short, sweet, and no longer than 5 or 6 steps. Consolidate the information to avoid overwhelming customers with too much information immediately. Executed properly, you will create a consistent baseline and standard claim-handling process for your facility. Regardless of the team member speaking to the customer, they are simply setting the customer's expectations and defining expected checkpoints that they understand will be their responsibility when we reach them.
Providing this clarity is key. To build trust and credibility, use phrases such as, "We value your business and want to ensure that you are making decisions based upon all of the damage rather than a guesstimate amount" and "We have a defined process to avoid surprises or hurdles as your claim matures; would you like to see it?"
It is also important to remember that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care about them as humans. Most importantly, consumers are more afraid of making the wrong decision than they are of spending money. So, being available to answer any questions or alleviate any fears is essential.
Record insurer payment trends
We should be recording the trends of each insurer and who pays for what. This way, our research will constantly funnel pertinent information that will support painting the picture of what delivery day will look like for the consumer and, more importantly, what their insurer may or may not hold them financially responsible for.
It's important to remember that customers want quality service and reliable results. Proactively managing their expectations is one of the best ways to ensure a positive customer experience. By setting clear expectations up front and staying focused on providing quality service, you can ensure that customers are satisfied with their repairs and look forward to working with your shop in the future. If anything gets off track during the claim, our teams must immediately consult with our customers to reset. Any negative feedback from our customers can be related in some form or fashion to a lack of proper expectations.
Managing consumer expectations during a collision repair is vital to your shop's success. Setting clear expectations from the outset and providing quality service are key components to creating a great customer experience. With proper communication, transparency, third-party data support, and an unwavering commitment to excellence at every touchpoint, you can be sure to build trust and credibility with your customers.