Quality should be an instrumental factor during the entire repair process.
Customer satisfaction at the end of the repair process is crucial for several reasons. One, it helps build the reputation of the shop. Two, it prevents shops from having to re-work the vehicle a second time, thus saving time and money. Three, it paves the way for expanding business opportunities in the future. Performing quality control throughout the repair process is key to achieving the ultimate goal of customer satisfaction.
Understanding the customer
According to the consulting firm Collision Advice, 26% of customers are not happy with collision repairs performed the first time. This trend is especially noticeable in the U.S.
Ryan Mandell, Director of Performance Consulting at Mitchell International, attributes this to a difference of expectations between the customer and the repair shop. When a customer comes to the shop to drop off a vehicle, the shop should take the time to listen to the person’s concerns, suggests Mandell. This gives the shop a chance to understand the needs of the customer, and eventually make sure that they are addressed during the repair process. The customer is also able to understand the complexity of the repair and what is being done by the shop. “If both the customer and the shop have the same expectations, I think you have a much higher potential for success in the end,” notes Mandell.
Dealing with customer disputes was quite different a mere five years ago, according to Bill Davidge, Director, OEM Strategy & Equipment, CARSTAR Canada. If a customer had complaints, insurers would inquire whether the repair shop had a quality control checklist, and that list was sent to insurers with the in-process pictures. “I can tell you that within the 90% range, if we had those two things, we would be covered,” says Davidge. Since every stakeholder looks at liability nowadays, quality is the first thing everyone looks for when it comes to repair procedures, he adds.
The role of a checklist
Collision repair shops can do efficient quality control by following certain steps. A critical part is to ensure that technicians adhere to OEM repair procedures. Shops have to ensure that both the estimator and the technician access the correct OEM procedures every step of the way. Having a checklist in place that outlines the exact requirements of a particular repair and the timeline estimate for each step is, therefore, seen as critical.
The checklist should also include calibration checks for the modern devices and technology included in the vehicle, as well as a final road test to ensure that every component of the car is functioning perfectly.
According to Davidge, checklists are essential to not only cover a shop’s liability but for proper compensation and allocation for the staff, too. If the shop, for example, is able to identify that a repairer needs extra training, it can work to get him/her the required help.
A lot of shops have a quality control checklist, which is definitely an important part of the process. However, shops might run into trouble if the checklist is addressed only at the end of the repair. Collision repair shops are extremely busy and there is usually a huge backlog of work to be completed. Even so, repair technicians have to avoid simply ticking off boxes at the end of the procedure to show that quality control is done, says Mandell. “When customers pick up the vehicle after repair, they should be delighted. You shouldn’t be holding your breath hoping that they are satisfied.”