From the Desk of Mike Anderson: Building Trust Through Online Reviews, OEM Certifications

From the Desk of Mike Anderson: Building Trust Through Online Reviews, OEM Certifications

I was recently over at my best friend Greg Thompson’s house and his son, Jarrett Thompson, stopped by.

Greg had agreed to babysit his grandson so that Jarrett and his wife could have an evening out. Greg asked Jarrett what their plans were and Jarrett said they were thinking about going out to dinner at an Italian restaurant I’ll call “Ernesto’s.”

“Oh, you are going to love Ernesto’s,” Greg told Jarrett. “They have the best pizza.”

I was there when Jarrett stopped by later that night to pick up his son and Greg asked Jarrett how they liked Ernesto’s.

“Dad, we didn't go there because it didn’t have good reviews online,” Jarrett told him.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is all the evidence you need that many people—young people in particular—rely more on online reviews than the word of their own father (or another family member or friend).

I mention this because I’ve been thinking a lot about how shops can build trust among customers and potential customers. Greg and Jarrett’s interaction is a great example of how online reviews are a great way to start developing that trust.

Customers are no longer just choosing the closest shop from the list they were handed by their insurance company. They go online to verify that whatever shop was recommended to them is, in fact, a good choice; therefore, it’s important that you have great online reviews.

The whole issue of building trust came up at a recent conference where I was a speaker. Another one of the speakers, Ray Chew of CCC Information Services, went around the room asking shops how they think people feel when they have to find a shop after an accident. Some said anxious, upset, mad, sad, etc. However, everyone agreed that consumers face negative emotions when looking for a body shop.

So, our first goal should be to alleviate those negative feelings by building their trust. Having positive online reviews about your shop can help ease customers.

Oftentimes, after the customer comes to the shop, a discussion about insurance company involvement is brought up.

We need to stop and make them feel better first—recognize their pain and sympathize with their experience. Then, start to build trust by focusing on why they made the right call by choosing your shop.

You might ease your customer by saying, “Okay, I know you’re concerned about whether your Nissan will ever be the same. I want you to know that there are 40,000 body shops in the United States, but fewer than 2,000 have met the training and equipment requirements to be Nissan certified. We’re a shop that has been Nissan certified. In fact, we’ve had advanced training.”

That term “advanced training” is important, Ryan Taylor of Bodyshop Booster said. Having the “advanced training” to earn automaker certifications is a good way to build trust and reduce their anxiety.

I don’t think enough certified shops are talking about that certification with potential customers and then these shops gripe about spending money on OEM certifications, without seeing any work from it.

However, at recent automaker conferences, I brought people up on stage and we called their shops. I would say, “I just wrecked my [brand of car] and wondered if you work with ABC Insurance.” The shops would assure me they are a direct repair shop for ABC Insurance and ask me if I had a claim number, but never mention they are certified by the maker of my car and what that means to me.

We need to start making our advanced training and automaker certification part of the conversation up front to build customer trust.

Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson is a columnist for Autobody News and president of Collision Advice, a consulting company for the auto body/collision repair industry.

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