Using Technology In the Service Garage

Utilizing Technology In the Service Garage

Shops that use technology effectively will increase customer service and improve internal processes to boost satisfaction.

At the heart of any organization, regardless of the industry or even your geographic location, is the value of providing remarkable customer experiences – today, the value of meeting rising customer expectations has never been so significant. With studies finding that 80% of customers are willing to swap brands after three or fewer encounters, the pressure is on, particularly in auto repairs and service, an industry widely associated with poor customer experience and one that doesn’t fit into the mold of a one-size-fits-all solution.

Repair shops can utilize technology at key touchpoints to increase customer service and improve internal processes while ensuring an outstanding experience throughout the customer’s repair shop journey.

According to international business consultants McKinsey and Co., the largely familiar common pain points in the auto repair and service industry include the booking process (which is notorious for requiring many phone calls back and forth, arranging the dropping off and picking up of cars), wait times that are rarely definite, failure to consistently promote mobility offers, and a lack of clarity regarding service completion status, pick up availability and expected price of the service.

The McKinsey report focuses on five key areas repair shops can 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 touchpoints
  • 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 is essential for a positive customer journey.

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

1. Drive new efficiencies:

New tech tools ensure repair shop operations run smoothly

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 if they wish to remain competitive in today’s increasingly volatile consumer market, repair shops must integrate technology capable of keeping pace with rising expectations. 

To ensure internal efficiency, repair shops must provide technicians 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, replenishable material suppliers 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, beginning with assigning the most suitable technician to each specific job. Technicians require the ability to add 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 other 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 inspections, service or repair within the designated time slot.

2. Improve customer transparency:
Maintaining a constant information flow to keep the customer up-to-date at every stage of the repair process

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, the 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. 

3. Improve loyalty:
Improving experiences even after the customer drives away

Research from SmartKarrot has found that 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 customer experience (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, electroninc payment options, 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 that 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 inspection reminders, warnings of new brakes, prompts for tire pressures or wheel balances, even a year along the line – all of which is visible for the customer to see.

Putting customer experience in The poleposition 

Consumers no longer simply want to purchase a one-off product or service; they want experiences and how repair shops choose to deliver on CX will define their relationships with customers going forward. Getting it right can mean repeat customers and increased revenue.

The current consumer market is accustomed to digital services more than ever – it’s vital for repair shops to step up to accommodate these changes. Keeping up to date with modern software will be a definitive factor in modernizing an industry historically entrenched with poor CX. 

From enhancing brand awareness, loyalty and customer retention to improving internal operations, there’s no better time than now for garages and repair shops to take advantage of all that new technology has to offer. W

Luke Poulton head of Product Strategy and Development at Avayler. Poulton brings to Avayler a decade of software as a service (SaaS), technical architecture and engineering expertise. From initial concept and prototype delivery to full lifecycle development, he has delivered numerous solutions in regulated industry sectors with significant requirements for compliance. Poulton is well positioned to bridge the gap between customers’ needs and technology development and delivery teams. For information, visit Avayler.com.

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