How often does someone go online to talk about what a wonderful, amazing shop you run? For most shops, it doesn’t happen every week, but when it does, it’s incredible.
I’m not just talking about the dopamine boost that leaves you feeling great for the rest of the day. I’m also talking about the boost to employee morale, your improved search engine rankings and, perhaps most importantly, the valuable insight you get into your business.
While positive feedback may feel better than negative, assessing all your online feedback can tell you exactly what you need to know about running a successful shop.
This may seem like a strange scenario, but imagine you’re driving a car while blindfolded. The only way you can tell if you’re doing well is to feel the bumps and jolts as your car hits curbs, walls or guard rails.
Now, imagine there’s a person in the passenger seat giving you directions. They can tell you when to hit the brakes and when to slow down, speed up or turn.
They can tell you the problems right in front of you that you can’t see.
When a customer gives feedback, it’s like they’re in the passenger seat telling you how to steer your shop safely and avoid hitting obstacles. Good or bad, that customer feedback shows you what’s happening in your shop and identifies areas for growth and improvement.
What matters most isn’t whether the feedback made you happy or upset, but how you use that feedback to help your shop grow and improve.
When somebody goes out of their way to give you feedback, what they’re saying to you is, “I care.” So, how does their care help cultivate shop success?
Customer feedback allows you to address issues immediately. That’s the good news. The bad news, when it comes to negative reviews online, is that you have to do it in a very public way.
When you get a bad review, time is of the essence, but your main job is to figure out what happened and find a solution. If a customer is unhappy, you need to know what’s going on quickly. How do the facts from your team match up to what the customer is saying?
If you’re running your shop well, you may find that the review is completely fake — the person doesn’t exist, the repair never happened and it was written to harm your reputation.
It’s times like this when your marketing company can make all of the difference.
That’s because the goal of responding to every review — good or bad — should be for everyone reading the review to want to do business with you. Your response is a form of marketing, and it should match the message and tone that you’re using on your website, your social media accounts and with your direct mail. (You are creating a consistent message across all of your marketing platforms by using a single marketing agency, right?)
But, what if the review is real? What if your processes broke down or your employee had a lapse in judgment?
Now, you’ve got two issues to deal with. There’s no question that you need to take care of that customer. You’ll need to work with your marketing company to craft a response that addresses their concerns and seeks to win back trust.
Your employee and team are a different matter, and measurement is critical here. Ask yourself, has there been a spike in comebacks from this tech? Has the service writer’s performance been sliding downhill? If you’re not measuring daily, it’s almost impossible to tell how deep the problem runs.
I’d caution against firing an employee because of a single bad review. There simply aren’t enough great employees to go around.
You should be concerned, though, and take time to rethink existing policies to avoid problems in the future. But, unless the employee was actively trying to harm your customer and your business (grounds for immediate and public termination in our shop), use this as an opportunity to pay closer attention to what the numbers are telling you.
Look For Opportunities
Positive reviews tell you what matters to your customers, and what moves and motivates them. When they communicate that to you, don’t ignore it.
First, make a big deal about responding to that review. Share it with your staff. Identify the value in the review and thank them for their kind words.
Positive feedback should trigger action. What are you going to do to ensure the customer feels that same enthusiasm every time they visit your shop? Now, you need to consistently provide that same level of service for every customer.
Everyone who reads that glowing review is now going to expect that same level of experience when they visit your shop. A positive review from a happy, satisfied customer can be your best marketing tool, but you have to follow through.
Take their words and reinforce the policy that led to that specific review. Train every employee to deliver excellent customer service that’s expected not only by you, but also by every person who read that review online.
Build a Relationship
Customer feedback tells you what you are doing well and what you can improve. It reveals what customers truly care about and value. That is why you should not passively wait for customers to leave reviews online, but instead actively seek out feedback in all forms.
Actively seeking customer feedback, showing them that you care, want to listen and improve, and making changes that improve your shop all directly lead to long-term customer relationships. This means more repeat visitors and referrals, high average ROs and better closing ratios.
But beware: customers can tell the difference between a scripted line and genuine concern. They also know when you truly care about them. That’s why our shop doesn’t shortcut this process by paying somebody to gather reviews. We don’t do this to check a box, we do it because we truly care. And believe me, our customers know we’re sincere.
Three Tales of Customer Feedback
The Dark Ages
Many shop owners might prefer to go back to a simpler time when Google reviews and social media didn’t exist, but here’s the story of one owner who would have preferred to be connected to his customers back then.
This Michigan-based shop was very slow. Despite regular phone calls, car count was down and the shop was struggling. The owner suspected a problem at the front counter.
So, he asked for our help. After some investigation, we learned that the service advisor was not only slacking, he was lying to customers on the phone.
When a new customer called the shop, the service advisor was not taking care of them. He did not address their concerns and even told customers the shop was too busy and he couldn’t fit their car into the schedule. All the while, techs were standing around waiting for cars to work on.
He was lying to the owner, too. When a customer provided feedback, he blocked it from ever reaching the owner. He created an environment in which he could do the minimal amount of work and sabotage the shop — until he got caught. While shop owners now have a love/hate relationship with the Internet, it is a blessing in disguise, as it provides a direct line from the customer to the owner.
Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover
When this shop owner hired a new tech for his Houston-based shop, he looked every bit the part of an A-Tech. The new tech came to the shop with good tools and good talk that earned him the job, but it wasn’t long before holes started showing up.
One weekend, this tech wasn’t able to finish a repair for a customer. Another tech stepped up to complete the repair and immediately noticed red flags.
The new tech’s work showed many deficiencies. He was not performing thorough inspections, but instead, replacing whole systems on the vehicle in hopes that the problem would be solved.
A car originally came in for a whistling noise. If the tech had followed the procedure for their inspections, he would have found that it was a simple issue with a valve cover gasket. Instead, he ignored the diagnostic tools available and the shop procedures in favor of shortcuts and suspicious work.
When the owner looked back at the measurement and documentation, he saw evidence of cutting corners from the beginning. Though he looked like an A-Tech, he refused to follow procedure, which lead to comebacks and unhappy customers, costing the shop money, parts and many mistakes.
Numbers Don’t Lie
A Kansas-based shop was expanding and hired a young service advisor to keep up with its growth. But after a few weeks, the shop owner started noticing small mistakes.
For example, this advisor made silly, but significant, mistakes running credit cards. At one point, he accidently credited money to the customer instead of charging them for the service.
The owner turned to the numbers. The inspection forms showed that the technicians were completing thorough inspections and writing complete recommendations, but the service advisor was either hiding or never making those recommendations to the customer.
The quality of work in the shop was on a steady decline. Because of his negligence, the entire shop was compromised. The proper inspection wasn’t being provided to the customer, which left customers unsafe and the shop’s reputation in the community in danger — all due to one advisor.
Without measurement, the shop owner would have had to rely on instinct. A charismatic young advisor may be able to get away with a few mistakes, but not for long because the numbers don’t lie.