When we talk about collision repair industry (or, in fact, about any industry) the most frequently used word to describe a brand or business you hear is “quality“. Our clearcoat is of fineness, with that spray gun you will achieve the highest quality finish, in our bodyshop we deliver the highest quality refinishing job … While I has no problem whatsoever with the term, I do believe that quality is not the most important. How is that? Some of my esteemed readers or marketing specialists may not agree. Let me explain myself.
The problem with the term “quality” lies in its vagueness. Apparently, perceived quality for different customers vary significantly. For example, a high quality clearcoat for a Greek painter may refer to the superior UV resistance, while in humid English Highlands quality has to do with fast drying; a salesman, the owner of hardworking Ford Fiesta wants fast delivery of his vehicle, while Ferrari owner requires the highest possible gloss level for his precious four-wheeled beast. And don’t tell me that you can have it all in one package. Not in this world at least. Let me bring another example, not from our industry. Do you believe that iPhone is the highest quality mobile phone in the market? I can bet that Samsung fans will find dozens of technical features in which the Korean brand is far more superior to its Californian rival. So what? Apple still has the most fanatic fans, which will spend their last savings on the newest model. I don’t remember anyone sleeping outside Samsung store to buy the last Galaxy model (I hope Samsung lovers won’t be upset with me). So, where is the difference? What is the secret? Well, whether you are selling paint, cellphones or spray cars, quality (perceived quality actually) comes second to … Hold your breath… customer experience. The difference between okay business and a thriving one is predominantly in great customer experience!
What is a customer experience in collision repair?
I have a simple definition for customer experience – it is a feeling, smell or taste a customer is left with after spraying a X brand clear or driving away from Y collision repair workshop. If you understand which things particularly influence this feeling, what ingredients leave sweet taste, and then you can create a unique customer experience.
How can we understand what is a great customer experience for our business?
The one and only way to answer this question is to put yourself in your client’s shoes. Ask! Ask! And ask! Don’t rely solely on your perceptions and believes.
Great customer experience for a bodyshop.
One research I read a while ago, which was conducted by a big chain of bodyshops, revealed that satisfied customers remembered mostly good coffee in the reception, new car scent used by the bodyshop before vehicle delivery and free touch-up bottle with 10ml car color inside! Keeping acceptable refinishing job constant it is coffee and a small freebies, which made a bodyshop to stand out from the competition.
Great customer experience for paint supplier.
Here I will share some observations I have had throughout my career as automotive refinishing products supplier. Many of Etalon customers preferred our products because… they liked the horse image on our cans, because of fresh design and even because the paper in our catalogue “feels like velvet”, and, yes, our calendar is sexy… On the other hand, we had to change one product, because it smelled bad and a packaging company, because the boxes looked like Chinese! One of our customer switched to Etalon simply because we are not arrogant like salespeople of one big multinational competitor. Of course, products must be good and at reasonable price, but it seems that many of us miss the key point – the experience our clients have with us.
To sum it up, I strongly advice to conduct a research on how your clients actually feel when working with you. Fine tune your operations and have the edge on your rivals. And remember, your customers are willing to pay extra for outstanding customer experience!