Earlier this year, Service King announced the launch of its 24/7 contactless self-schedule service. In an exclusive interview with Jeff McFadden, president of Service King, BodyShop Business discusses how the launch of the new service came about, why it’s a reflection of consumer wants and demands, and what feedback they’ve received so far.
BodyShop Business: Why did you launch this service, and was the timing due to COVID-19?
McFadden: This service is something we had talked about for quite some time, and COVID-19 gave us the opportunity and ability to ramp up our efforts. With the pandemic, “touchless” became a necessity in the world and allowed us to put great customer service and customer safety at the forefront.
It’s really important to recognize that our self-schedule solution is an extension of the claims process which allows a multi-shop operation like ours to better serve our customers in doing direct-repair carrier network business. While other online scheduling options exist, Service King’s self-schedule solution stands apart and above the rest as it allows for the instantaneous connection of assignment data and details from the carrier. Rather than having the customer input their information, Service King already has access in its proprietary scheduling system. This practice gives the team the ability to automatically populate customer and claim information in the Service King self-schedule workflow, allowing the brand to create a seamless, superior experience for the customer.
BSB: How did you handle customer claims before you launched this service?
McFadden: Before we came out with the 24/7 contactless self-schedule service, it was: I had an accident. Yes, I choose Service King. This is my zip code. Okay, great. We (XYZ insurance company) will forward the assignment to Service King and someone from Service King will make contact with you. We would take the customer information and push a click-to-dial message to their mobile device that would say we recognize you’ve had a claim with XYZ insurance company and, if you click this link, it will put you in touch with our customer care center that will schedule your repair and arrange a rental car.
That system was pretty cutting edge. And we did that on our own as well prior to just taking the electronic assignment and then calling the customer, leaving messages. It’s important to recognize that the majority of the bookings in a call center like that are made on inbound calls, meaning that we make the first call and leave a message and the customer calls us back. They’ve had time to make arrangements, know when they want to schedule and have spoken to their significant other.
Fast forward to today where, you talk to the carrier by phone and they dispatch the claim, but instead of click-to-dial, that electronic assignment comes to our system and, within minutes, we’re able to dispatch our self-schedule link to your mobile device or email address in the carrier profile. It simply says, ‘Mr. Smith, thanks for choosing Service King. We have received an assignment from insurance carrier XYZ. To book your appointment, click this link.’ Then, it identifies the vehicle type, carrier name, specific location you chose that was closest to your work or home in your zip code, etc.
BSB: How many customers have you scheduled so far using this new system?
McFadden: From mid-January to end of April, we had about 18,000 customers we scheduled into our locations with no contact, meaning no phone call. In the system, the rental car can be arranged. Also, whether the vehicle is drivable and needs to be towed. In case of tow or additional services, the system can reroute you to the customer care center through live chat if necessary. It may take you to our tow team, who will need to know where the vehicle is located. But those are the only times in those interactions that we actually pick up the phone.
BSB: What has the feedback from customers been like?
McFadden: The feedback has been really positive. We’ve been tracking customer responses and there has actually been an uptick in CSI. Also, since launching the digitization of the scheduling process, we’ve seen an uptick of self-scheduled customers versus traditional, just because the self-scheduling is so immediate.
One of the great things is that you’re able to take some of the pain out of the process for the customer on the front end. It’s no different than if you use a reservation app for a restaurant that sends you a link and tells you the location and drops it in your preferred GPS mapping service. You don’t have to take any notes. The self-schedule service sends the customer a follow-up text or email communication with all pertinent details so that when the time comes, you have that appointment info, you simply click, confirm your reservation, grab the directions, etc.
BSB: It seems like people are more into texting these days and don’t really want to pick up a phone. Did your customer interactions confirm that too?
McFadden: Our customers are offered an extensive text and chat feature through the customer care center with a dedicated chat team, tow team and traditional customer care reps. It was there that we saw that our customers lead busy lives and are looking for opportunities to simplify their lives. So, this new contactless system is really just an extension of the chat feature.
BSB: Does this contactless experience extend to insurance companies now too where they don’t need to be on site and you can handle everything virtually?
McFadden: Currently, we’re really just talking about scheduling the repair via a DRP relationship with insurers. Being able to virtually inspect the estimate and comply with the rule set of what the carrier expects a direct-repair shop to follow is just standard procedure. This is just an extension of that, but more on the customer side. It really gives the carrier confidence that if Service King has this feature and the customer files a claim at 9 a.m. on Monday and has chosen Service King, within minutes they will get an email or text on their preferred device that gives them the ability to digitize the scheduling. And we think that’s a really positive enhancement for the carrier. It’s really important to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to add to their experience and make sure that the customer has had a positive interaction with their insurance company so they continue to do business with them.
BSB: You said this feature is currently available for customers who have chosen Service King as the repairer of choice, but eventually it will be offered on the website to all customers. Can you explain that a little bit more?
McFadden: The majority of our repairs come through direct-repair networks, and we really needed to prioritize that. Part of our long-term digital strategy is to offer this service to all customers no matter where you are in the repair process. It’s pretty common today to have the ability to get an estimate online or visit a website, submit photos and get an estimate, but the real need is claims that customers file with their insurance companies.
BSB: Jeff, in summary, what does this new service mean to the customer?
McFadden: We’re all busy. If you can schedule a dinner reservation or haircut in a contactless way, why can’t we do it for collision repair? It’s really how we all interact with other businesses today.
Before pushing a click-to-dial or before self-scheduling, 70% of our engagement came from inbound and outbound phone calls, which meant all we were really doing was leaving a multitude of messages on the first call because people are busy and they couldn’t take the initial call. The beauty of the scheduler is it’s all on your time. And what we’ve found that is interesting is the time people are making these appointments: two, three, four o’clock in the morning, because they’re waking up in the middle of the night thinking they need to schedule a repair. Now, you have that link and can do it when it’s convenient and it doesn’t interrupt your work day or time with family.