Customer service has always been an important component of the collision repair experience for insurance carriers. Now, however, this metric has even more weight than ever before.
The collision repair industry has historically carried a negative association, with the assumption that repair facilities are dirty and poorly run. Improving the reputation of the collision industry has been a collective effort and insurers are looking to send their valued customers to facilities that go the extra mile.
This is why customer service is so important.
Previously just an unexpected benefit, customer service is actually a key performance indicator (KPI) for many carriers now. In some instances, the customer experience can even surpass other KPIs in level of importance. For example, in the past, when the cost of repair was a little high, insurers may have opted to send the work elsewhere. Nowadays, if that same facility has amazing customer service scores they will still win the business.
This is because customers have more power than ever before. Customers know their business is valuable and do not want to use companies that provide negative experiences. Online reviews have also helped fuel this shift. Searching the internet for reviews of businesses before you visit the establishment has become a regular habit for recent generations. If there are too many negative reviews, oftentimes a shopper will look elsewhere. As insurers look to retain their valued customers, they want to ensure they have a positive experience at the collision repair facility referred to them.
So how do you ensure your repair center has that positive reputation both online and within your community?
Manage Customer Expectations
Under promise and over deliver. If you inform a customer that their vehicle will be ready in three days and deliver it two weeks later, you’ve created a negative experience. Communication is king when it comes to managing customer expectations. Ask the customer how they want to receive updates, whether it be text, email or a phone call. Try to identify any parts delays as early as possible and be sure to inform the customer immediately if it affects the length of the repair. Let them know the status of the repair, during the repair. Once the repair is complete, take your time, walk around the vehicle and explain the repairs made. Finally do not forget to call the customer a few days following vehicle return to ensure complete satisfaction.
Communicating with the customer at various touch points allows you to catch any questions or concerns early. This way, you can address them immediately during the repair process and clear up any uncertainty down the road. This also shows the customer you care.
Address Negative Experiences
No facility is perfect, and sometimes mistakes happen. If it is a repair issue, use it as a learning experience to educate technicians on what went wrong and how to avoid the issue again. If it is a service issue, extending the gesture of a small coffee gift card will go a long way. Be sure to apologize to the customer for any inconveniences or missteps, even if you disagree with their opinion. As the old adage goes, the customer is always right.
Focus on the Entire Experience
Customer service extends far beyond actual customer interactions. Consider bringing in a family member or friend to see what they think of your facility. Is the exterior of your store clean? Is there space for parking? Is there somewhere for customers to wait? Do you offer refreshments? Is there a hook in the washroom for purses? How does the reception area smell? People sometimes forget or overlook these key components. First impressions are vital. Considering every aspect of the customers’ experience simply shows you care.
If you do not want to sell to a consolidator, but want operational support to enhance your customers’ experience, consider joining the CARSTAR family. CARSTAR is a franchise system that provides resources to enhance your business, while allowing you to continue independently owning and operating your business.
To see if CARSTAR is right for you call (888) 664-7161 or visit CARSTARfranchise.com.