EVEN THOUGH MOST COLLISION REPAIR SHOPS understand the importance of creating a positive customer experience, many continue to unknowingly place themselves and their customers in the uncomfortable situations that poor communication commonly creates. I don’t know how many times I have witnessed this scenario: a customer shows up on Friday afternoon to pick up their repaired vehicle and upon being presented with the bill, exclaims, “I didn’t know I had a $500 deductible!” Invariably, these awkward situations always seem to occur with an office full of other customers!
It’s far too easy and irresponsible in my eyes to blame the customers for these situations. I feel that since we deal with this stuff every day we have the right and responsibility to help our customers through the process. Many of the best in class collision repair shops have standardized processes in place to eliminate these unnecessary problems and make the experience for the shop, the customer, and the waiting room full of customers a pleasant and positively memorable one.
The appointment reminder call serves several purposes besides just to remind the customer of their upcoming repair appointment. This is a wonderful opportunity to get great communication underway early, and begin to cut-off some of the potential problems that commonly occur. Discuss the following with the customer:
- Verify drop-off date and time
- Early bird drop-off procedures (if applicable)
- Rental car or transportation needs (if applicable)
- Remove all personal belongings from their vehicle (Trunk, interior, and box/cargo area)
- Insurance check has been received (if applicable)
- That we will need the key fob for their vehicle
- Provide us keys for wheel locks, ski or bike racks, toppers, or tool boxes
- Remove sunglasses, garage door openers, parking permits
The Vehicle Check-in
Shops are often paying the price for not going over the vehicle during drop-off. I recommend using a standardized form with reminder check boxes. The vehicle check-in process promotes both quality and great customer service. Here are a few suggested topics to cover as you walk around the vehicle with the customer:
- What is to be repaired?
- What is prior damage? (Do they want it fixed too?)
- Malfunction indicator lights on dash (Was this check engine light on prior to the accident?)
- Are there any freebies or special requests? (Touch-ups, wants an estimate for missing light )
- Do we have the keys, wheel locks, ?
- Does the customer have their garage door opener, parking permits, baby seats ?
- Do we have a signed authorization?
- Is the customer fully informed regarding how much money they are expected to pay, and what forms of payment are acceptable when they come to pick up the vehicle?
- What is the best way to reach the customer during the repair process? (Cell phone, text, )
- What they can expect in terms of communication frequency from the
I recommend communicating with customers at least every two days, unless they have requested otherwise. Customers should also be informed at the following specific points:
- Blueprint – After the vehicle has been blueprinted to establish the updated price, and delivery promise date
- Supplements – Any other supplements along the (This shouldn’t happen if it was blueprinted correctly)
- Paint – When the car goes to (Let them know if completion date is still on target)
- Morning of expected delivery (This will highly increase your chances they will pick it up that day!)
Call the customer when repairs are complete and a final quality control inspection has occurred. During this call you will want to go over:
- When they should arrive to pick the vehicle up
- Rental cars and transportation
- Confirm what they will owe you and what forms of payment are acceptable
If you are thinking that this looks like an excess of communication, you may be right to a certain extent. I have never seen a shop get a bad CSI Score for communicating too well, but I have seen far too many of the reverse. I would challenge you to consider the amount of time shops spend handling people calling to check on their repair status, dealing with missed damage, explaining embarrassing unfulfilled promises with touch-ups, and much, much more. Take back control of your time, invest it wisely in being a proactive communicator, and everyone wins!
This IMPACT Collision Solutions TIP was written by industry expert DAVID LUEHR