In a previous post, we talked about how to respond to online reviews, both positive and negative. But wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to deal with negative reviews in the first place? Here are a few ways to make sure your customers leave the shop happy, so they’ll leave great reviews online and tell their friends to take their vehicles to your shop. It’s the cheapest marketing money can’t buy!
Have happy employees
It’s always been said that happy employees lead to successful businesses, but there hasn’t been much strong statistical evidence for it. That changed in 2012 when a large Swiss study proved that happy employees lead to strong business results, not the other way around. In fact, the positive effect of happy employees on a business’s success is statistically stronger than the effect of sleeping pills on insomnia!
One reason that happy employees lead to better business results is that happy employees are much more engaged in their jobs. For employees whose job it is to interact with customers, this means that your employees are much more engaged with your customers. They are more likely to care about whether your customers are satisfied, making the rest of these suggestions much easier.
Take the time to answer customer questions
Think about the last time a you called a giant corporation for help (such as your cable company, cell phone company, or your bank) and didn’t get your problem resolved. What was more irritating: the wait, or the fact that the person that finally picked up the phone couldn’t help you at all?
While there will always be customers that expect the impossible, most will understand if you’re busy helping other people. But once you’re helping them, they want your mind to be focused on them. They want you to take the time to answer their questions, and maybe ask them some questions that will help clarify both their problem and the solution. If you make them wait, only to seem uninterested, unfocused, and unable to help them, they might shift from ‘somewhat patient’ to ‘angry enough to tell anyone who will listen about how much they don’t like you.’ It could take you months to recover from the damage that this customer can cause. Here’s an examples of what this can look like:
One way to make sure customers are getting results when they contact you is to ask yourself “What was the customer’s problem, and how much closer is it to being addressed as a result of this conversation?” In most cases, you should have a good answer for this, such as “I told them we could fix it on Friday”, or “I told them we could give them a quote within an hour if they bring it to us”.
If you can’t come up with a good answer, the answer is probably “none at all”. You should acknowledge that to the customer and apologize you couldn’t do more to help them, or possibly recommend another local shop that can.
Convince your customers you genuinely want to know if they’re unhappy
For every customer that bothers to tell you they’re unhappy, another 26 unhappy customers won’t tell you anything at all. That might seem like 26 customers you’re probably going to lose without knowing why – but it’s much worse than that. On average, unhappy people tell 16 people about their experience. So, for every customer that complains about your service, over 400 people are told about a bad experience at your shop.
If you figure out that those 26 unhappy customers are unhappy, and do what you can to make them happy before they tell people about their bad experience, that’s over 400 people who won’t be told not to visit your shop. So, how do you do that?
The most effective solution is to focus on what’s going on in your shop from the customer’s point of view. Stop for a second and think about a few things that happened in your shop today, or the last day it was open. How many customers waited more than 5 minutes before talking to a rep? How many got a surprise cost increase when you explored a problem further? How many didn’t get their vehicle back when they expected it? Did you acknowledge the impact of these things when talking to the customer? If you’re not acknowledging these inconveniences to your customers, they may not think you care how it impacts them, and that’s going to hurt your reputation.
Whoever has the last in-person contact with your customer needs to ask about their experience. This question shouldn’t be scripted: the customer should feel that the person asking the question really cares. For circumstances where the customer is unhappy because of something that is the ‘shop’s fault’ (such as a delayed repair) the person asking about their experience should either be empowered to do something about it, or should forward the information to someone who can call the customer quickly and address the problems. This doesn’t mean you should give unreasonable customers whatever they want so they won’t complain about you on social media. Reasonable accommodations for customers who didn’t receive a great experience will go a long way to turning unhappy customers into happy ones.
Finally, some customers simply won’t complain in person because it’s too uncomfortable. To capture these customers’ complaints, you should be emailing an online survey invite to every customer who visits your shop. If they rate you poorly on your survey, you may be able to resolve their issues before they rate you poorly on Google, Yelp, or somewhere else where it is likely to be highly visible and difficult to improve once posted.
We’ve had many customers ask us if they need a website since they’re on a Shop Locator page.
There’s a big difference between a shop locator and a website, and it greatly affects how easy it is for potential customers to find your shop online. A shop locator would work very well if a car owner went to the website of the company that owned the shop locator and searched for shops in their zip code.
As an example, if you go to BG Find-A-Shop’s website and search for a repair shop in the 27105 zip code, you’ll find Whiteheart and Sons Automotive, along with their contact information. Although you wouldn’t learn about what they do, their hours, or many other things, you could at least get in contact with them.
Unfortunately, most people don’t go to BG Find-A-Shop to begin their automotive search. They go to Google. And if they search for auto repair in the 27105 zip code, many sites will pop up, but none of them are on a shop locator page. Anyone relying on a shop locator will likely lose everyone searching for auto repair in Google.
Fortunately for Whiteheart and Sons, they have a website with Repair Shop Websites. Because of this, Whiteheart and Sons does show up on the first page of results for auto repair in the 27105 zip code.
And unlike a 1-page shop locator page, their website provides all the details someone needs to know they can handle their particular problem – from hours, to services offered, and even testimonials from their customers. None of this information is on a Shop Locator page, but it’s all on their website.
So don’t be fooled! Shop locators have value, but they won’t help new customers find you on the web. For that, you need a website. If you have questions about how to make sure your repair shop gets found online, please give us a call at 866-665-1605.