Five tips to prevent a bad online review for your auto Body shop.

by Tom Zoebelein - Wed, Jul 24, 2013 4:13 PM

Five tips to prevent a bad online review for your auto Body shop.

Following up my last blog post for Auto body shops about dealing with customer complaints, I thought it would be a great idea to talk a little bit about how to prevent them from happening in the first place.


1. Keep ALL promises.

When a customer selects your auto body shop, one of the decision-making factors is their perception of your shops’ professionalism. You enter into a repair agreement with a customer you are setting the expectations of that consumer. If a customer asks for an estimate for damages not covered under the claim, make sure you quickly deliver on that request. If a customer has any special instructions for communication, scheduling, rental car needs etc., make sure that you follow through with those requests. This will speak volumes about your professionalism, and will come back to haunt you in your review if you miss any of them.

2. Set and deliver accurate repair delivery times.
The auto body shop is the one who sets the schedule. It can be very tempting to build in a bit of “hero time” by adding a few extra days to the estimated return time and then delivering early. The temptation is to under promise and over deliver. Or perhaps you had an opening and were able to get a customer car done way ahead of schedule. You might think it would make a customer’s day to deliver several days ahead of schedule. Before you surprise a customer with this, consider contacting them the minute you think you can finish it early and ask them if that would help them out. The lesson that you might be surprised to learn is that the customer sets their schedule around this inconvenience including the estimated repair date

When an accident takes a vehicle out of your customer’s personal fleet, they immediately have to adjust their schedules to accommodate this. Your repair process is one of those factors. Sometimes surprising a customer with an earlier than promised delivery date can cause stress on the customer if they are out of town, working a modified work schedule or have other transportation planned. We have seen a too early delivery date negatively affect a review and CSI score countless times.

3. Avoid changing the delivery date more than twice.
We all know that things happen in the auto body shop and during the course of the auto body repair that can affect the delivery date. While a change in delivery date will be disappointing to a customer, most will not be put off by it. However if you continue to change the date, it not only irks the customer, it also makes you appear to be a sloppy and unprofessional shop, and one who can’t keep up with its own workflow, or worse, too scattered to get things done when promised.

4. Update customers about progress, not procedures
I see shops all the time who go to great pains to explain the repair process to customers during the course of the repair. With all the digital cameras and email and texting it is easy to have your technicians and front office staff constantly update consumers with photos of their car in progress. This might at first seem like a cool way to keep your customer informed. But the reality is customers like to see their cars all shiny and new, not cut to pieces, coated in filler, and half painted in primer. This is not to say that some customers don’t appreciate that type of detail, but have that dialogue in the beginning when the keys are handed over, then stick to that preference.  But the lesson here is the progress updates are what is important, not the stage of repair. Instead consider sending the message “we are on track for the Thursday delivery” versus “we have just primed your vehicle and are sanding it for paint and will make your Thursday delivery.
Some customers might even think that there is no way the car will be done on time based on the stage you are at regardless of the man power. So why worry them? Keep the focus on the your ability to deliver on the date and time you said you would, and less about the stage of repair.

5. Follow up with your customer no later than 12 hrs. after delivery.
Sitting on the lot, all shiny and washed, your customer is so happy to have the car back that unless there is a glaring mistake (like you forgot to put the bumper on) chances are they will leave your shop happy, and you will think they are happy. But give them a few hours with their car and the dissatisfaction might start to sneak in. Thinks like that drip in the paint that you didn’t see or the buffing compound in the door jambs that was missed, whatever it is that might make a customer unhappy will come out in the next few hours. Head it off at the pass,  and long before the Insurance company CSI score comes knocking. Follow up with your customer, make sure they are 100% satisfied, or start to make immediate fixes to get them to 100% satisfaction.

Follow these rules and you can prevent most bad customer reviews and CSI scores.