I recently attended the PPG MVP Conference in beautiful Amelia Island, Fla., and what a great experience it was. Many of PPG’s valued customers got to take a much-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of their businesses, spend some quality time with their significant others, shop some of the latest and greatest products in the industry, and learn from some of the top motivators in the business world. That’s right, motivators, not “speakers” or “presenters” because they did so much more than just present information.
Scott Deming was one of those motivators. His talk was focused on “perceptual reality” and how everyone’s perception is different based on the experiences in their lives that shaped who they are. One of his points was that your customer’s perception of your shop or the service they were given might be completely different than yours. Actually, not might, but probably is.
The thing that really hit home with me, however, was his declaration that empathy is the key to life. Wow! That’s a pretty strong statement. If you would have asked me what the key to life was, I probably would have listed many things. But there it was, one single, solitary secret to life: empathy.
I’ve been told by some industry experts that empathy plays a huge role in the collision industry. Some have gone so far as to say that if shops showed true empathy toward their customers on a daily basis, they could increase sales several times over. Is this proven? I’m not sure, but it makes sense to me. I think most of us would admit we don’t do a good enough job at being empathetic toward customers. I don’t know if it’s in some people’s DNA to be that way; if that’s the case, those people shouldn’t be your estimators or “care agents.” Isn’t that really what they should be called?
I don’t think you can teach someone empathy; they either have it or they don’t. Find ones who do and put them on your front lines. Your business will be better off for it.