I find that most shop leaders are overconfident in their ability to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Does this sound familiar? Are you unsure whether this is the case in your body shop? The following might help you figure it out.
The number one way to organically grow a body shop and lessen your dependency on direct repair programs (DRPs) is simply a result of the emotions you create interacting with customers.
However, shop owners and managers often don’t understand this and squander the incredible opportunity for growth.
Instead, they make the false assumption that customers are almost always happy and wouldn’t hesitate to refer their shop to friends and family—which is exactly what you want.
My question to you is, “How do you really know?” How do you know what customers are thinking or feeling about the experience they had at your body shop and if they will refer you?
Some shops survey customers or have a Customer Service Index (CSI) provider that does it for them. They will tell me, “We have a CSI score of 97 percent. Our customers love us!”
Do they really? Although it’s probably fair to say that 97% don’t hate the experience, that doesn’t necessarily mean they love it. It just means they checked a box on the CSI survey that asks, “Would you refer us to friends and family?”
Because they don’t want to upset you and perhaps the experience was satisfactory, they check “yes.” Besides, in most cases, they don’t want to create any drama.
They were in an accident, you fixed their car, and what they would really like is to put the event behind them and get on with their lives. They likely check the “yes” box unless you ticked them off.
The reality is that this method of gauging a customer’s true satisfaction with a body shop’s service doesn’t come anywhere close to telling the whole story.
I still recommend using CSI scores to the extent that I would want to receive feedback if a customer was unhappy or had a problem with the repair. However, the damage is done when a body shop assumes they have created an engaged customer based on a good CSI score alone. They have created a false sense of security in their ability to turn a customer into a referral source.
Phoenix Solutions Group (PSG) is a collision-specific organization that prides itself on measuring the truth. The company asks scientific questions that reveal the truth about customer engagement.
This may shock you but through the scientific research and data provided by PSG employees they found that body shops with an average CSI score of 97%—based on the “would you refer” question—was in reality only 7%!
How could this be? If you could figure it out and properly measure it, you would likely have an incredible opportunity.
Here is a big tip to get you started. As a shop leader, I want you to start learning about how to think and act more like a hospitality business. Your customers are often in an emotionally charged state and the ability to manage that is critical.
There are three “emotional triggers” that you and your team must activate for your customers to go from being satisfied to engaged and refer your shop.
- Confidence – how confident they feel in your ability to provide a quality product or service and do it within the time parameters you say you will do it.
- Integrity – this is a measurable indication of your body shop’s ability to deliver what you’ve promised. Examples include delivery date met and touch-ups performed as promised.
- Pride – how well you and your staff display pride in the finished product and service. This includes how well the car was cleaned, reselling the job, how the warranty is presented, etc.
If you can put measures in place to always ensure you activate these three emotional triggers during a customer’s experience, you will have an opportunity to earn his or her loyalty. The customer will then feel compelled to tell friends and family all the reasons your shop is the only one to consider.
Imagine if someone is flying into your town and asks you to refer a restaurant; which restaurant would that be and why?
Usually, the one you recommend is the business that makes you feel important when you eat there. Therefore, you likely feel confident that your friend will also enjoy the experience. You are also confident that the restaurant will show your friend integrity by delivering the same quality of food you always experience.
People often ask me what the biggest opportunity is for local body shops. The answer is easy. The person across the counter from you—your customer.
For more information, become a member of of Elite Body Shop Solutions’ online body shop management training community. Join Operations Monthly Live (OML), an online management training program and community of high performers. Here you’ll find hours of world-class training, including information about turning customers into raving fans, creating an accurate repair plan, body shop scheduling, and more. With a very affordable OML subscription, you can join me live for an hour each month, where you will learn a new, relevant topic and be able to ask questions while interacting with many of North America’s best collision operators. A recent lesson has been added to the Operations Monthly Live library called “Elite Level Customer Service,” where independent repairers can learn how to increase the growth of their businesses with little or no money.