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Five Ways to ‘Wow’ Your Collision Repair Customers

A great-quality repair is expected; a “wow” customer service gesture isn’t.

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Joe Carubba is owner, president and CEO of Carubba Collision Corp., a multi-shop operation in Western New York that has grown to four main offices, a dealer satellite office and six production facilities. He has worked in the auto body industry for 35 years, starting out with his father part-time in the 1970s sweeping floors and cleaning cars. He was named the BodyShop Business Executive of the Year in 2013. His philanthropic efforts have included Make-A-Wish, the Food Bank of WNY, and many others. He can be reached at [email protected]

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“Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process, we will catch excellence.”

– Vince Lombardi

This quote is one of my favorites – and it served me well as I began to think about this month’s column. As I reviewed my notes and materials from past training sessions, I recognized that we need to chase perfection and, in the process, catch excellence in order to “wow” our customers (or guests, as Carubba Collision calls them).

The Pareto Principle

Nearly every opportunity at “wow’ing” our guests at Carubba Collision starts with receiving an insurance assignment, tow-in, walk-in or call-in requesting an estimate or repair. How we can handle those opportunities from beginning to end offers our chance to achieve our wow factor.

The 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto Principle) suggests that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of effort. Pareto is alive and well in our business and industry. Walk with me while I explain how this is relevant to our wow factor.

Painters make 80 percent of automotive colors from 20 percent of toner inventory.  Technicians make 80 percent of repairs from 20 percent of their tools.  Eighty percent of our quality, speed and cost performance comes from 20 percent of the effort that goes into collision repair. And the same holds true with our wow factor: 80 percent of our wow factor comes from 20 percent of our efforts.

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If I were to drill down deep into the science and philosophy of our best practices and processes that create a wow experience, I would need to write a book, not an article. With that in mind, I will reference 20 percent of our wow’ing philosophy, best practices and processes that you may want to consider if you haven’t already implemented them. I’m sure you can expand upon the thought and wow your customers as good or maybe even better than we do.

My Top 5 (or 20%) Influencers of WOW

  1. We never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Our customer receiving areas are clean, comfortable and well-maintained. The customer restrooms are immaculate. Customer seating is comfortable, and reading materials are readily available. Customers have easy access to a Keurig coffee machine, various coffee pods, tea, hot chocolate, spring water and snacks. We have TVs playing favorite channels. Our signage is tasteful and includes our certifications, licenses, brochures, business cards, credit cards accepted and more.  These things are not that uncommon – but perhaps unique is how meticulous, clean and organized everything is.
  2. The guest greeting. Our guest services representatives (GSRs) serve as greeters who are there to comfort and accommodate.  They’re typically the first to make eye contact, and they say, “Thank you for insisting on Carubba Collision – my name is Mary.  How can I help you?” We have smiling, friendly and upbeat GSRs.
  3. The GSR then offers our guests coffee or other beverage and points out comfortable seating while we interview them on what has brought them in. The interview includes, among other things, questions that lead our GSRs to understanding what it’s going to take to wow the guest. Everyone has different wants, but our GSRs are trained on accommodating wants and needs in a way that makes the repair experience a positive one by focusing on making the experience as minimally invasive as possible.  There usually is nothing we won’t do to accommodate our guests (unless they ask us to save their deductible or anything that constitutes fraud).
  4. Warm handoff to estimator or adjuster. Our GSR will introduce the estimator and review the needs of the guest with the estimator.  For example, the GSR will say to the estimator, “Paul, this is Mr. Brown.  Here is his information. Let me point out that Mr. Brown will be needing us to do some additional work and will need a rental car to accommodate his family while we are performing the repairs.”
  5. We are proud of our features and benefits. They make us different and create a wow factor. Here are a few examples:
  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car  is on site at all locations, eliminating the need to coordinate an off-site rental car.
  • ABC Insurance DRP status: We are authorized by ABC Insurance to start repairs immediately because we are a direct repair participant – we get approvals quick and can start repairs today.
  • We keep guests informed on the progress of their repairs by whichever method they choose: phone, text or email. They can also check online.
  • When a vehicle is done, we will deliver it and test drive it with the guest if they want.
  • We will set up payment with the payer and bill them directly.

Summary

All of the above probably isn’t groundbreaking, but notice that it’s all about customer service and attempting to wow the customer or guest. When the opportunity presents itself to wow the customer by going above and beyond, I suggest you take advantage of it.

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We found that when we get great remarks on social media or online posts, it’s always about the customer experience part of the repair, not the repair itself. A great quality repair is expected; a wow customer service gesture isn’t. Work on and talk with your staff about those positive experiences that made you wow your customer; it will make a difference when the opportunity presents itself next time.

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