What auto body shop customers are concerned about the most: New study results

by Tom Zoebelein - Fri, Aug 22, 2014 1:49 PM

A collision repair industry data and technology provider, AudaExplore just published a study involving auto body repair shops, car insurance companies and their customers.

This study reveals some information that will not come as a surprise to some auto body repairers, and will serve as a reminder to others. It will also not come as a shock to you the car owner. Issues of customer satisfaction and more specifically a lack of trust is the underlying theme in these results.

The new study titled “Insight on the Collision Repair Experience” revealed that nearly half of all study participants  (48 percent of the U.S. adults surveyed) believe that repair shops “sometimes, rarely or never provide great customer service” and that “consumers trust other professions more than collision repair technicians”.

Certain professions; lawyers, car salespeople and mechanics have had historically bad consumer trustworthiness. In the case of auto mechanics and auto body repairers, the reason comes from the high cost of repairs combined with a customers lack of knowledge about how cars work or how they are repaired after an accident. Fear of what we don't know or don’t understand is largely at fault for this consumer mistrust. That is not to say that these industries are free from rip-off artists, they certainly do exist, but it is important to identify the  source of this mistrust before we look at the rest of the survey results. I will also discuss ways of to remedy this mistrust.

Changing the Auto Body Shop Customer Prejudice

1. Create the ultimate Customer Experience for the digital customer

In an interview with Adam Vasquez, VP of marketing at AudaExplore, , he had this to say “with increased competition, employee turnover, evolving vehicles, digitally empowered consumers and endless streams of data, the relationship between customers and companies has changed dramatically,”  he continues “We are living in the Era of Disruption, and providing a great customer experience is more important than ever. In this new era, it’s not just about the number of shops or the size of your network; it’s about building trust with constant communication and transparency throughout the repair process.”

2. Educate ever auto body shop customer you have.

74 percent of respondents said they would like to better understand the work their repair shop is doing. Again, if we understand what we are being charged for, why we are being charged for it, and what it takes to complete this task, you will change our perception. As consumers, we don’t need every detail, but to understand the steps and labor hours involved as well as the parts and the quality of those parts, it becomes easier to digest an auto repair bill.

3. Let us know how the repair is progressing

62 percent of those surveyed said that timely electronic status updates, such as email alerts, text messages, or social media notifications during the repair process would be very or somewhat valuable. It is no longer a stretch to assume that we as auto body repair consumers have access to a smart phone or a computer. Communicating with your customers has never been easier. Software companies such as Update Promise www.updatepromise.com can automate this for you. As a customer, inquire if your shop is using a technology like that from UpdatePromise. Survey respondents said that the highest-ranked value to them was to be kept in the loop on their repair process.

4. Let us know how well trained your staff is

50 percent of those surveyed said repair shops always or often provide the most qualified technicians. That is good news. However there is still half of a repair shop’s customer base that assumes that the technicians are not trained well enough to diagnose or repair a car properly. Simply hanging ICar Gold plaques on the wall is not enough. Most customers will only see those if they get bored in the waiting room. And even then what does ICar mean to the average customer. Instead, take the time during the estimating process to discuss your body shop’s qualifications with us. In addition you can explain your technicians training and expertise through staff bios on the website and from independent third party websites such as our website AutoBody-Review.com

5. Take an interest in our car

49 percent believe technicians always or often perform only repairs that are necessary. When you are writing an estimate, and you see something else that needs to be addressed, mention it during the estimating process. Not only could this lead to additional repair work for the shop, it goes a long way to instilling confidence in the customer, that you are concerned about the entire car, nut just the repair areas.

6. Be more transparent about pricing.

34 percent believe a fair price is charged always or often. A whopping 66% of all customers think that they are getting ripped off. Nobody wants to pay for auto body repair. So there is likely an unfair bias built into that number. None the less, transparency in the repair estimate and the prices you pay will ease some of the burn that customers feel.

7. Be more accurate in estimating

46 percent said repair shops sometimes, rarely or never deliver a final price that matches the original estimate. Again this is a bit of an unfair number and in my opinion reflects the survey company’s lack of understanding about how estimates are written. We all know that a full estimate can’t be written until the car is fully disassembled and sometimes even after work has started. The solution here is to be very clear during the estimating process that the word estimate means an approximation. Setting customer expectations from the very beginning can go a long way to delivering excellent customer experience.

8. Insurance partners also have high expectations for estimate accuracy

34 percent of insurance carriers surveyed say they would like more accurate collision repair estimates. Remember also that as a body shop there are two customers, the car owner and the car insurance company footing the bill. Anything that can be done to improve accuracy in the estimating process will appease both customers.

This study further reinforces that there is still a big gap between the auto body repair shop and their customer’s expectations that continues to have negative impact on insurance carrier and repair shop business. The key to mitigating this is to make use of data and technology partners to manage customer expectations. Auto body repairers can do a better job of keep customers informed which will make repairers more trusted by the customer and will ease the difficulty in repair cost discussions.