Every insurance company scoresheet (that I know of) used to rank and qualify their DRP members includes a measure for customer satisfaction. Mrs. Smith (my proverbial collision repair customer) dutifully sends her $100 monthly car insurance payment to her current insurance carrier and clearly has no major issues with them or she would have already fallen prey to the zillion ads that claim to save her money. Her current insurance company has a big-time vested interest in keeping her happy and continuing to submit her $1,200 a year to them. Especially worrisome is that time once every six or seven years when she has an accident that requires a body shop.
Changing auto insurance carriers is really easy; I’ve heard a rumor that it takes as little as 15 minutes. If Mrs. Smith doesn’t have a satisfactory “experience” when her damaged vehicle gets the typical $2,500 to $3,000 collision repair, statistics say she’ll blame her insurance company as well as the offending body shop – then start sending her $100 to some other carrier the very next month. So her insurance company is vitally interested that she be content with them. Along with monitoring their actual repair costs and seemingly every possible other collision repair metric, the insurance companies want to specifically ask if Mrs. Smith was satisfied with her outcome and her experience.
Her collision repair “experiences” with the body shop included how their telephone was answered when she called, what happened to her when she visited the shop for an estimate, her impression of the shop’s office and grounds, whether there was suitable communication during repair and many other factors throughout her experience. I can say from personal involvement that what exactly happens when the repaired car is physically delivered back into her hands has an outsized effect on her satisfaction with the whole process – not least because the insurer’s CSI survey often arrives quickly after the claim is closed and vehicle delivery was the most recent of her many body shop “experiences.”
A thoughtful re-sell on the repair is the perfect opportunity to tell Mrs. Smith what you did to make her vehicle whole. By setting her expectations in the office and explaining the repairs in a proud and positive manner at the car door, the shop can increase her initial satisfaction by as much as 40%. Correctly, you’d ask me, “Forty percent according to who?” and I’d refer you to the two surveys that measured this very thing back in the late ‘90s or early 2000s – neither of which I could find in my scattershot research files those long-past BodyShop Business feature stories I wrote. I recall them both being credible sources with extensive CSI measurements about the entire collision repair “experience.” The good news is that I can testify from personal experience that a well-done delivery of an average repair will get higher marks than a poorly delivered top-notch repair. It’s all in what Mrs. Smith hears when she apprehensively comes to pick up her car.
I contend that one of the few things Mrs. Smith (or Mr. Smith, for that matter) knows about collision repair is a poorly matched color. Everybody lives next to or works with someone whose repaired vehicle shows a mismatch under some lights (metamerism), and they don’t want that to happen to them. Talking up your shop’s ability to invisibly match the customer’s color is a great closing tool during the estimate, and re-selling the invisible repair at delivery is an excellent place to start increasing her satisfaction with your work.
My advice is to begin setting her expectations at the front desk while the paperwork is completed. Her CSR (customer service rep) says, “Mrs. Smith, I just saw your car as it came out of our detail department and it looks perfect.” Or the CSR says, “I just talked to our final inspection technician and he said that your car tracks straight as an arrow on our comprehensive final road test.” Or any other positive statement about her vehicle before she sees it. If it’s the same CSR that sold the repair, they would reference the wonderful outcome on whatever it was that concerned her initially.
One of those concerns is that her car will be returned dirty and dusty from the 11 days on the production floor. Set her expectations and get credit for something you give away in one swipe. As the CSR and customer stand at the outside of the vehicle, she says, “Mrs. Smith, as a valued customer, we went the extra mile and gave your vehicle our $150 complete detail package.” They then open both the hood and deck lid to demonstrate that there is no sanding dust on the air cleaner or masking tape in the drip rails. Open the doors to see the speck-free carpet and shiny dashboard. You were going to wash her car anyway; get credit for giving her a $150 spiff and reassure her concerns about a clean repaired car. (For this to have any credibility, the detail crew had better have done a nice job!)
A good re-sell on delivery includes anything the CSR can point to with pride. The matching door gaps, the high-gloss, dirt-free finish, the sparkling glass, the arrow-straight trim pieces and the spotless interior each serve to remind Mrs. Smith of all the careful work and trouble your shop went to in keeping her happy. Leave a checklist on the front seat, mention it or just let her discover it at the next stoplight. With your shop’s logo on top, the 10- to 20-item checklist includes both big and little things. The tire pressures checked, the power windows re-indexed, the five-mile test drive, the “complete” detail, the floor mats steamed and any others with checkmarks or technician initials beside each one reassure Mrs. Smith that
you paid extra special attention to her repair.
To ensure the highest marks from Mrs. Smith on the insurance company CSI survey she’ll receive in the next few days, ask her specifically after the grand tour of the fine work on her car if she is pleased. Not satisfied, but pleased with the result. When the questionnaire asks her to rate her experience from 1 (low) to 5 (high), hopefully her recently expressed pleasure will generate a five. Although I can’t currently find the documentation for my 40-percent CSI improvement claim, I can say from long experience as a consultant that my client shops that developed a script and trained their CSRs on how to re-sell the repairs on delivery all improved their insurance CSI numbers rapidly and significantly.
The actual repair is whatever it is, but the shop’s enthusiastic and spoken pride in their work is just the thing to put Mrs. Smith at ease that she chose the right body shop – and hopefully will tell all her friends, relatives and co-workers about you. I have mixed feelings about asking directly for a good report on the upcoming CSI survey. Car dealer service lanes and hotel desks have both taken to asking everyone directly for a good grade on the CSI scoresheet when the customer’s transaction is completed. I’d rather deliver the car with pride and leave Mrs. Smith with the impression that she was special. Hopefully, she’ll feel she really was when the survey hits. B