Road Testing For Customer Satisfaction, Safety

Road Testing For Customer Satisfaction, Safety

A test drive following service helps to ensure that you are returning a fully functional vehicle to your customer.

Road testing your customer’s vehicle after completing service and repair work is a good idea to verify the quality of your work to ensure customer satisfaction. However, validating the safety of the vehicle after work is complete can also help reduce your liability risks.

A test drive following service to the brakes, tires, front end components and other safety-related parts helps to ensure that you are returning a fully functional vehicle to your customer. This is important not only from a safety standpoint, but also for “customer satisfaction” and quality control. 

Nothing could be worse, say legal experts, from both the loss prevention and public relations aspect, than to allow your customer to drive off in an unsafe vehicle that causes an accident. Protecting your customer and the public at large must be a primary concern for you as a business owner.

Don’t overlook the importance of road testing before a repair, as well. This allows the technician to listen to any noises or notice problems, as well as confirm the customer’s complaint. If the customer is able to accompany the technician during the drive, it can help: “That’s the sound I’m worried about!” Make notes during the initial drive of any noises, vibrations or other concerns and use it to create the initial estimate. 

Another part of the initial test drive and checklist is to do an exterior inspection, noting all scratches, cracks or damage of any kind. It’s not unheard of for a customer to “suddenly” notice damage to the car and try to blame the shop for damage. 

Designated drivers 

Whether to road test is a much easier question to answer than who conducts the driving test. Make sure you know who is test-driving those vehicles. Just because your technicians are “good guys,” is not sufficient. Some recommended “best practices” for determining who should be permitted to test drive vehicles, include:

  • Check and evaluate the driving record of all employees who may operate customer vehicles. Never allow anyone to drive a customer-owned or company-owned vehicle without doing so. 
  • Establish written criteria that define an acceptable driving record, and then apply it to your employees. And, keep an eye on them by conducting annual driving reviews – someone’s record can deteriorate quickly and checking it at least once each year will determine if he or she should continue to be a test driver.
  • Use only “approved” drivers to road test vehicles – preferably managers, foremen and other long-term, trustworthy employees.
  • Ensure that drivers can operate all vehicles safely, including those with manual transmissions or other unusual features.

Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of workplace fatalities. You want to prevent auto accidents that can involve your business in litigation and have an adverse impact on your bottom line (reduced shop production, paying deductibles, increased insurance premiums, etc.).

Road test rules 

Establish the ground-rules for test drives. It isn’t enough to throw a set of keys to even a trusted individual and say “test drive this car right away.” It is important to provide direction to your employees and tell them what you expect them to do.

  • Establish designated routes for road tests; if the vehicle breaks down, it will be easier to find it and the employee if you know the test-drive course.
  • Routes should be all right-hand turns; avoid highly congested areas, dangerous intersections, construction and school zones; and use intersections controlled by traffic lights as opposed to stop signs.
  • Drivers should be provided with some form of communication – either a cell phone or walkie-talkie –  and given instructions about what to do if they are involved in an accident. 
  • Treat the customer’s car with respect. Protect seats and floorboards with disposable covers to avoid staining upholstery and floor mats.
  • Use extra caution when designating drivers to road test high-end autos, sports cars or “classics.”
  • Do not road test vehicles that are in obvious unsafe condition or unfit to drive.
  • Make sure your customer knows that you will be road testing their vehicle.

During the Road Test:

1. Start with a Baseline: Begin the road test with a baseline evaluation to assess the vehicle’s current condition and performance. Note any unusual sounds, vibrations, handling issues or warning lights. This baseline serves as a reference point for evaluating the effectiveness of the repairs.

2. Test Drive Conditions: Select appropriate driving conditions that mimic the customer’s typical usage patterns. This may include city driving, highway speeds, stop-and-go traffic and various road surfaces. Pay close attention to how the vehicle behaves under different scenarios to identify any underlying issues.

3. Systematic Approach: Adopt a systematic approach to the road test, evaluating each system and component that was repaired or serviced. Test the brakes for effectiveness and smoothness, assess the steering responsiveness, check for suspension noise or abnormalities, and verify the functionality of electrical components.

4. Diagnostic Tools: Utilize diagnostic tools such as OBD scanners to monitor live data and detect any potential issues that may not be immediately apparent during the road test. Analyze sensor readings, fuel trims and other parameters to ensure optimal engine performance and emissions.

5. Safety First: Prioritize safety during the road test by adhering to traffic laws, wearing seat belts and maintaining a safe following distance. Exercise caution when testing the vehicle’s handling and braking capabilities, especially if driving at higher speeds or on unfamiliar roads.

Post-Repair Road Test:

1. Verify Repairs: After completing the repairs, conduct a second road test to verify the effectiveness of the work performed. Compare the vehicle’s performance to the baseline established earlier, paying attention to any improvements or lingering issues.

2. Recheck Systems: Perform a final inspection of the repaired systems and components to confirm that all issues have been addressed satisfactorily. Listen for abnormal noises, test the functionality of repaired electrical circuits, and ensure that all warning lights are extinguished.

3. Test Customer Concerns: Address any specific concerns or complaints raised by the customer during the initial consultation. Verify that these issues have been resolved to the customer’s satisfaction and provide detailed feedback on the corrective actions taken.

4. Document Findings: Document the results of the road test, including any observations, test data and recommendations for further action, if necessary. This documentation serves as a valuable reference for future servicing and helps maintain accurate records of the vehicle’s maintenance history.

Review your current test-drive procedures and practices to determine if they are adequate. Entrusting your customer’s vehicles to someone else is a matter that should not be taken lightly. Customer satisfaction, safety and your reputation are all behind the wheel of that vehicle.

You May Also Like

When Small Animals Cause Big Problems With Cars

Sure, they’re cute on TV, but critters can inflict serious punishment on your customers’ vehicles.

We all have a cache of stories involving weird, wacky and downright strange customer service requests, but the majority of them can be traced back to mechanical failure and/or human error.

You may be familiar with “Just Rolled In,” a YouTube channel highlighting some of the most terribly maintained and unsafe vehicles brought into shops across the country, along with strange “customer states … ” complaints that must be seen to be believed. While the worst damage is due to lack of maintenance and misguided DIY repairs, sometimes there’s no one to blame but Mother Nature.

Customer Service – How Brakes Affect Fuel Economy

Reducing brake drag on late-model vehicles is not accomplished by a single component; it takes a system.

BMW Infotainment System Service Tips

Even the most sophisticated systems can encounter issues.

Ride Control Diagnostics From Tire Wear Patterns

Learning how to read the tire and communicate your findings is the key to safe and effective ride control service.

Explaining Why A Customer’s Car Leaks Oil

Service advisors, explain that there are a few common causes for the majority of oil leaks on the road.

Other Posts
Top Five Tips To Balance Business And Marriage

Husband and wife teams have different challenges than other business partners.

Recommending Ride Control

Applied to the front counter at your shop, best practice should be to never sell just one strut, shock or spring.

Auto Care Industry Expected to Grow 5.7% in 2024

The 2025 Auto Care Factbook projects the total automotive aftermarket to hit $617.3 billion in 2027.

Gravity Releases Universal EV Charging ‘Trees’

Chargers need no utility upgrades and are capable of providing 200 miles of range in 13 minutes (200kW) or 5 minutes (500kW).