Building Lasting Relationships in the Auto Repair Industry: How do we speak the Same Language?

For both managers and customer service reps in the auto repair industry, one of the most integral parts of the job is talking to customers. Whether someone is shopping for tires, broken down on the side of the road, or trying to pinpoint a problem with their vehicle, service advisors have to interpret what the customer is conveying and then create a solution that everyone is happy with. It stands to reason that one of the most important factors in the communicatory responses that CSRs give should be to make customers as comfortable as possible, yet many customers are reserved, tentative, or even apprehensive when talking to someone at a local repair shop, whether in person or on the phone right from the get-go.

Why is that?

Let’s face it, at some point in time everyone has likely called to get a price on tires or an estimate on a repair just to be met with a gruff response on the employee end that communicates “why are you bothering me” or “stop taking up my time”. Even if an employee uses some fundamental words that should help to build a quality conversation such as “how can I help you”, sometimes, just the connotation of how those words are said can be enough to make a customer feel uncomfortable, irate, or otherwise turned off.

One of the most prominent factors that lead to such communication breakdowns in the auto repair industry is the fact that the employees at the repair shop and the prospective customer are speaking two different languages. If you own, manage, or work for an auto repair garage, then automobiles and everything that goes wrong with them are your expertise (or at least should be). However, most of your average customers will know little to nothing about their ride. The fact is that cars are more reliable today than they were in the past and there are more local repair shops than ever before; both of which make it convenient for the customer to rely on an expert rather than learning how to perform repairs on their own.

This works in the auto repair shop’s favor, yet too many CSR’s find customer ignorance to be just an annoyance.

Well here’s some food for thought.

When you go to get your teeth looked at, would you expect the dentist to get upset with you because don’t already know exactly what the nature of your cavities are and what should be done to repair them?

Would you expect an architect to get upset with you because you don’t know the exact dimensions and layout of every room that will be in the house plans you are asking them to draw up?

Would you expect a doctor to get upset with you because you came to the ER for help with stomach pain that you couldn’t identify the cause of?

The answer is of course not! While we go into most new situations with an air of ‘maybe trust’ because there are so many unknown factors, it becomes the expert’s job to not just to fix the problem, but to take that aura of maybe trust and solidify it into a long term relationship based on real trust, loyalty, and (of course) results. These principles ring true in the auto repair industry just as they do for any other.

In order to create that sense of lasting trust between both parties, it takes powerful and refined communication techniques. The messages that are conveyed by the words we say, how we say them, our body language, and our deeds will set the stage for how every customer relationship ultimately develops and blossoms. This means that every interaction with customers should be geared toward increasing their comfort level and letting them know that their needs are being carefully tended to.

To be successful in the auto repair industry, no job is too small and no question is too stupid. Building trust starts with making sure that every customer knows how you are willing to go the extra mile for them rather than what you are can’t or are unwilling to do. Your shop may have fancy computers, state of the art car lifts, and more power tools than you can count, but the most powerful tool of all is language. Use it to demonstrate to each customer just how seriously you take your commitment to them and they will reward you with their business again and again.