Best Practices and up to the minute news on Customer Experience Management and Service Excellence

Do’s and Don’ts of Great Service at an Auto Body Shop

Customer service basics can wow customers dealing with the stress of an accident.

A little over a month ago, on a Sunday afternoon, I was on my way home from my fourth hardware store run of the day. My husband and I were installing shelves in my closet, and we were almost done.

I pulled up to a red light, slowed to a stop and “Bam!” I was jolted forward, and felt my bottom teeth hit the back of my front teeth. A woman driving an enormous pickup truck had rear-ended me. I pulled over, checked the damage to the liftgate of my van, and talked to a police officer who had seen the crash while working another accident.

I hadn’t had an accident in over a decade, but I knew exactly where I’d take my car because of the stellar service I had received at a body shop when dealing with a minor issue on another car. The help they offered in the aftermath of my wreck serves as a lesson in handling customers who are dealing with the aftermath of a stressful crash.

Based on my experience, here are five dos and don’ts for providing great auto body shop service:

Treat even small jobs with care

A little over a year before my accident, I’d needed a small job done before selling another car. The car had a small dent and a chipped tail light I wanted fixed. I had stopped by this particular body shop simply because I often passed it on my way to Target. The job cost less than $200, but they treated me with the same friendliness, efficiency and respect I imagine they’d handle a big job. The shop manager called me immediately when the part came in, just as he had promised. After that, they got the job done within a day. I was in a time crunch due to the upcoming sale of the car, and their excellent service saved the day.

Get off to a good start on the phone

When I called the auto body shop to see when I could bring my van by for a repair estimate, the receptionist answered the phone promptly, and with genuine friendliness. She took down my info and told me how late the shop was open that day. She even commented that we shared the same first name, which created an instant connection. My interaction on the phone increased my confidence in the auto body shop. I felt my van was in good hands.

Give quick and efficient estimates

The receptionist had told me I could stop by any time for an estimate. She had provided the shop hours without my asking, and told me the estimate process would take about 10 minutes. I stopped by the same day and was thrilled when getting an estimate was as quick and simple as I’d been told. The manager greeted me as soon as I walked in, took a look at my van, and invited me into his office while he prepared a written estimate. Then I was on my way, and off to Target, within minutes.

Offer waiting area options

I would have loved to have been offered the option to sit outside or wait in my car for the estimate. I’m sensitive to smells, and the office area of the auto body shop is connected to the shop, so it’s permeated by strong chemical odors. And many customers now prefer waiting outside, or away from others, due to the pandemic. I could have insisted on waiting outside, but didn’t want to be rude. I’d have greatly appreciated the manager offering me a choice of where to wait. Even better, he could have offered to deliver the estimate via text or email.

Put yourself in the customer’s place

Finally, I can say from a customer perspective that many people visiting an auto body shop have just been through a really rough experience. I was rattled for a week after getting rear-ended, and was dealing with a sore neck and back. The manager of the auto body shop didn’t ask much about my accident or offer empathy. While being professional and efficient is most important, a little human touch in the form of small talk and words of sympathy would be a good way to connect with your customer and go a step further in providing personalized service.

Follow these customer service basics, and do a great job on repairs, big and small, and you will have loyal auto body shop customers for life.