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Repairing Perceptions of the Traditional Car Repair Shop

How Technology Is Putting the Customer Back in the Driving Seat

There’s a lot of talk about customer experience (CX): it must be at the heart of any successful business, and the time to deliver on rising consumer expectations has never been so important – with 4 out of 5 consumers willing to switch brands after three or fewer poor experiences.

But how can this apply to an area so entrenched in poor CX like car repairs and service, an area that doesn’t come in that all too familiar brown box and one too complex, specialized and historically poor by definition?

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Luke Poulton, Head of Product Strategy and Development, Avayler, disagrees. He pins the focus on repair shop management, exploring three key areas where technology will improve internal operations and ultimately customer loyalty – to deliver outstanding user experiences now, and for the future.

The McKinsey report lists the all too familiar common pain points in the car repair and service process including appointment making – which we all know, can require numerous phone calls, vehicle drop-off and pickup, where waiting times at arrival often exceed ten minutes, failure to proactively promote mobility offers, and a lack of transparency regarding service completion status, pickup availability, and expected cost.

The McKinsey report focuses on five points for repair shops to achieve immediate improvements:

  • Define a common purpose and a customer-centric behavioral framework
  • Build capabilities via forum training events and digital tools
  • Identify and digitize key customer touch-points
  • Establish a closed-loop customer-feedback management process
  • Establish test-and-learn experiments to validate radical new customer experience ideas

And I’m pleased to report that the technology is now prepped and ready to help repair shops deliver exceptional experiences like never before to realize these improvements – from the initial booking stage right through to aftercare for the customer – transparency of the end-to-end service and repair process will be essential for a positive customer journey.

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Here are three key areas where technology is improving repair shop management, for businesses, their technicians and, of course, their customers.

  • Efficiency: Technology becomes king for streamlined repair shop operations

As more and more consumers turned to the convenience of online shopping, demand for speed and ultimate efficiency, significantly increased too. Consumers no longer want “fast” – they want “instant” and to provide these levels of efficiency, repair shops must integrate technology capable of keeping pace with rising expectations, should they wish to remain competitive in today’s increasingly volatile consumer market.

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To ensure internal efficiency, repair shops must provide technicians and engineers with the correct tools and information that can maximize the full potential of their skills and expertise. Technology will be the silver bullet in offering employees full visibility of available stock and inventory – which should be automatically updated and replenished by supporting systems in real-time. With direct integrations to tire distributors, replenish-able material suppliers, such as engine oils, and car part manufacturers at the click of a button, technicians can complete job after job with the confidence that readily available supplies are at their disposable.

Not only should technology optimize stock and resources, but it should also maximize employee productivity too, beginning with assigning the most suitable technician to each specific job. Technicians will need the ability to add additional jobs that are needed on the car via the system, which should then automatically remove completed jobs from the technician’s diary to free up any other available slots throughout the course of the day. Not only will this ensure quality assurance, audit trails and time stamps, but without the option to adjust labor timings, technicians are encouraged to complete the necessary MOT, service, or repair within the designated time slot.

  • Visibility: Keeping the customer informed, every step of the way

In today’s market, remaining honest and transparent with your customers will go an exceedingly long way.

Consumers respect a brand that gives its customers full visibility, particularly when their vested interest is for extremely important and costly objects such as their vehicle. Keeping transparent will significantly impact the customer journey, which in turn can develop into a host of benefits for both the customer and the business – from improved brand image and reputation, to increased loyalty and retention of customers, word of mouth marketing goes far in the repair shop industry.

For example, through digital systems customers should be able to view the progress of their vehicle from start to finish, via photos uploaded by the technician. Updates will be emailed to the customer, including when the technician starts work on the car, documentation of how the technician was able to finish the job and evidence of it being done correctly.

By providing a complete breakdown of these steps, both technicians and the customer can be confident that a standardized process has been followed and that operational compliance has been reached. When combined with frequent but unplanned quality control checks, the structured procedure can also contribute to improved performance, as technicians are encouraged to produce good quality work, that is finished on time for the customer.

  • Loyalty: The customer journey – continues out of the repair shop 

Research from SmartKarrot has found that currently, 96% of customers see customer service as “crucial” for brand loyalty, while on the business front, 89% of organizations claimed they now compete primarily based on customer service. The appetite for an excellent customer journey couldn’t be clearer and the story is no different for repair shop management.

It’s how organizations deliver on their services that will be so critical for the customer journey, and the CX will impact whether customers choose to remain with a brand or switch to another. But it’s important to remember that the customer journey doesn’t start and end while at the repair shop itself – the journey also encompasses ease of bookings, payment options such as Klarna or Payment Assist, aftercare, data management and much more. Systems should store customer data safely and indefinitely and allow repair shops to retrieve customer quotes for up to 28 days – some repair shops have even implemented unique QR codes which will quickly provide the repair shop with customer information including names and addresses. This data can then be used to notify customers of service and MOT reminders, warnings of new brakes, prompts for tyre pressures or wheel balances, even a year along the line – all of which is visible for the customer to see.

Making customer-centricity a priority, now and for the future

Consumers no longer simply want a product or service; they want experiences and how repair shops choose to deliver on CX will impact how consumers interact with their brand in the future.

Now, today’s market is more accustomed to digital services than ever, so the time for repair shops to step up is ripe. Integrating modern software will be a saving grace in an increasingly fluctuating landscape – from improving brand awareness, loyalty, and customer retention to internal operational efficiencies, there’s no time like the present for repair shops to capitalize on all that technology has to offer.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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