What story are you telling your customers?
by Danon Birch
I recently had to find a new dentist. I checked my insurance coverage and then went online to see my options. The one nearest to me didn’t allow online appointments and when I tried to call, no one answered. I submitted a “Contact Us” form, but never heard anything back. After that, I decided that it wasn’t worth the time and effort and moved on to select a different dentist.
As consumers, we all expect businesses to deliver an “always on” experience. This experience is the story of your business, and you tell it on your website, in online reviews, and in how your staff interacts with customers – both in person and electronically.
Repair claims processed in a “low-touch” experience result in the highest levels of consumer satisfaction (J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study). In other words, the less that a customer must deal with anyone at the shop or their carrier, the better they feel about the overall repair experience.
So what story are you telling your customers in this increasingly digital world, and what can it mean for your business?
You don’t need this blog to tell you that businesses are expected to have a digital presence. Without a functional website or a place with honest reviews, customers aren’t likely to spend time trying to find you. The story you’re telling is that you’re not looking for new business and that you’re not willing (or able) to deal with “modern” consumers.
Despite the J.D. Power statistic above, I recognize that perhaps not EVERYONE will want an all-digital, low-touch experience. 49% of claimants still prefer to pick up the phone regarding their repair, but these repairs also have the lowest rate of satisfaction. Having digital options is important; as the business owner, you don’t have the luxury to opt out.
In the 2022 edition of CCC Crash Course, we saw the importance of providing estimates to customers quickly. The faster customers can receive an estimate following the first notice of loss, the higher their satisfaction with the claim & repair process. The higher the satisfaction, the stronger you look to insurance carriers, and that can lead to more assignments.
When it comes to technology, don’t try to fake it. Customers will notice if you’re not “all in” on digital, and it will turn them off (remember the non-working “Contact Us” form at the dentist?). Deliver a robust website and digital experience, including mobile, with features that show you value THEIR time and want to meet their expectations.
Offline Interactions Matter
Many of the folks at shops I’ve talked to feel overwhelmed, but I’ve seen what can happen when digital experiences are just a box to check. I’ve personally heard shops tell customers to ignore text and email updates from the shop because the “information isn’t accurate.”
When a customer hears that, what kind of message does that send?
Customers may think that the shop is disorganized, cannot handle technology, doesn’t prioritize the customer experience, or any number of other negative thoughts. The in-person interaction doesn’t align with the digital experience, which leaves the customer with a less-than-ideal story.
Digital and live experiences don’t compete; they should be cohesive and complement. They need to work together to tell the same story: your shop respects the customer and their time, embraces technology, and is qualified to complete increasingly complex repairs. That message needs to come through both online and offline.
- When someone calls in ask about hours or availability, do you encourage them to go online to make an appointment and tell them why that’s easier?
- At drop off, are you confirming their contact information that they input online or asking them to re-enter it all over again? Are you asking what their preferred method of contact is? Some people never check their email, while others would rather get a root canal than answer a phone call, and there are still a few that prefer to walk in and talk to people in person, every time.
- When returning a vehicle, are you reminding customers about the satisfaction survey and encouraging their feedback? We all get so many text messages and emails that it would be easy to miss if we didn’t know it was coming.
Connecting great online and in-person experiences creates a single excellent customer experience. That’s a story worth telling.