Are You as High-Tech as Your Customers?
Written by Ed Attanasio, Autobody News
Published June 4, 2019
No one wants to take their car to a body shop. The customer is either mad someone hit their car or embarrassed, thinking the accident was their fault.
Collision repair is not an impulse buy, but it's a service that is needed; so, people want the process to be fast and convenient. Now, collision repairers are leveraging technology to better accommodate customers.
Consumers used to utilize any form of technology that made their collision repair easier. Nowadays, people expect technology to make their lives easier in every realm. Everyone—from seniors to millennials—are no longer afraid of cutting-edge technology they don’t understand, but do value, such as computer-based systems, automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and more.
Tech-savvy customers are hard to impress. The true test of any new form of technology is when it becomes a daily part of our lives.
Megan Williams, chief marketing manager at Lefler Collision & Glass Repair oversees marketing for this 66-year-old MSO with three locations in Indiana and one in Kentucky.
“While the collision repair industry as a whole is outdated in terms of processes, we are experiencing a shift in service due to the addition of technological advancements,” she said.
Technology is changing the world every day and body shops tapping into it are benefitting as a result. Body shops on the cutting-edge will excel, while late adopters will suffer.
Below are three types of technology that can help make body shops become accountable and efficient while creating consumer confidence and trust.
In the old days, you dropped off your car for repair and wouldn’t see it again, until the job was complete. Now, however, thanks to video technology, you can play a significant role throughout the entire repair process. Vehicle manufacturers are developing video technology that will empower car owners to find out about things such as scratches and dents that occur during transit, including the date and time of the incident while overseeing the repair process.
Mercedes is a company that offers an IP solution, incorporating video surveillance software and IP cameras. Exterior cameras are able to record every aspect of the vehicle being loaded onto the showroom, including every license plate number. This technology allows users to access live video via the Internet instantaneously.
People have an average of 35 apps on their devices. As a result, developers worldwide are clamoring to meet the demand. Collision repairers realize that apps used to transmit data about their various services and specials is a great way to get more business. Today’s car owners are more aware of technology; therefore, body shops are looking for ways to cater to today’s mobile customers.
Apps are gaining momentum, Williams said. “Thanks to the ‘Amazon effect,’ consumers, like us, are looking for ways to incorporate technology into our everyday lives,” she said. “You can see this in our day-to-day behaviors such as ordering Starbucks from their app, so it is ready for us upon arrival, Prime shipping on Amazon and Target with their new order and drive-up service.”
Apps help make body shops more responsive to their customers through software technology such as UpdatePromise, the 3M Free Collision Repair App and Bodyshop Booster, among others.
Williams sees value in the collision repair industry’s plethora of new apps.
“Applications such as Bodyshop Booster make it possible for us to capture business during times where we are not open, but people still need to get in touch with us,” she said. “36 percent of individuals want to do business with us while we are closed, according to Mike Anderson’s research. We are seeing more individuals prefer to have text updates via CCC rather than phone calls, as it allows them to be updated more frequently and not have disruptions throughout their day.”
Blogs are playing a major role now too, as shops educate consumers about their cars with helpful tips about different aspects of their vehicles and how to repair them. Blogs create a smarter customer—they have to tap into technology to satiate their hunger for more. Experts forecast that the rapid evolution of in-car technology and consumer-focused mobile apps will place consumers firmly in the driver's seat when it comes to repairing their cars.
At the end of the day, technology makes our lives easier, but superior customer service remains crucial, Williams said.
“As CCC reported in their 2019 Crash Course, consumers who are provided opportunities to ‘save a trip’ and make the collision repair process less of a hassle are more likely to return due to the superior service they received," she said. “Other potential benefits include reduced cycle time due to the ability to plan for the vehicle prior to its arrival, increased employee productivity due to fewer phone calls and time spent writing estimates in person.”