By Rachael J. Mercer
Communicating the repair process to a customer and managing their expectations are two important components for great customer service. This was the key point to Vernon Crump's class on "Preparing the Customer for the Repair" held Thursday afternoon.
Crump said, "A vehicle is a personality extension of the customer. It's usually their second largest investment, next to their home. Collision repairers must know their customer's point of view and understand their expectations."
A positive repair relationship begins with a warm reception. Greeting customers as soon as they come in helps them to feel at ease, and gives them an opportunity to tell you about their concerns for their vehicle's repair. Crump suggests offering a tour of your facility prior to the customer leaving. This eliminates the so-called "black-hole" perception that customers so often see negatively.
"Collision facility managers must explain the insurance process and then introduce their repair process to customers," said Crump. "Communication at the onset is key to a successful repair relationship."
Crump encouraged participants to be pro-active in their communication with the customer. He urged managers to give customers a three-day status report, to return the customer's calls within two hours and to inform the customer any time there is a parts or supplement delay.
Once the repair is complete, managers should go over the vehicle with the customer, using the final estimate. Customers like to know what has been done to their vehicle, so pointing out new parts, paint, etc., helps them better feel that they have an understanding of what they're paying for.
During this delivery Q & A, managers should be sure to thank the customer for their business. However, Crump says, "Never say 'If you have a problem, just call me'." This places a shadow of doubt in the customer's mind, and suggests to them that you think their car might still have something wrong with it. You want to communicate that you have completed the repair and that it is a quality job.
"Customer after-care is essential," said Crump. "Send a card thanking the customer for choosing your facility, and send a follow-up survey to all your customers." Evaluating the feedback you get on those surveys can help you improve the repair process and will allow you to better manage customer's expectations in the future.
Crump finished his presentation by explaining his "DIAL-IN" philosophy to attendees. First, Don't Talk, Just Listen. Give a positive Initial Impression. Have an Attentive Attitude for every customer. Listen for their "hot spots." Remember that Information sets the tone of the repair, and lastly, Never promise what you can't deliver.
Remembering these techniques will benefit any collision repair facility manager as they seek to prepare their customers for the repair process.