Broski: Give Your Shop Customers an Experience 

March 19, 2024
Today's customers want a connection, an experience at your shop, not a list of expected benefits.

One of the current business buzzwords regarding customer service is “the experience.” You may have read that we are in “The Experience Economy.”  

In a recent study, 86% of customers claim their experiences are equally important to the actual product or service they purchase. According to Super Office, that same percentage of customers are ready to pay more for that better experience. Might I add—from an auto repair shop perspective—was that experience fun, caring, helpful, safe, valuable, beneficial, worthwhile, and reliable?  

The customer experience is your customer’s perception of how you and your shop treat them. Those perceptions influence their behavior and build feelings and memories that maintain their loyalty.  

It’s hard to put a rating on a great experience. I read something similar to the below from a noted trade magazine article, but I disagree! 

“Today’s customers want an exceptional experience, one that puts you and your shop above the competition. Which means: easy scheduling, a fast turnaround, open communication, fair and transparent pricing, and repairs that are done right the first time.” 

To me, that is not an exceptional experience. That is the minimum. That is a routine experience. So, how do you achieve a good or great customer experience? Do the above but go beyond your routine job description? Make a phone call for a customer to a tire store, a locksmith, the dealer, or a stereo store. What also helps in a great customer experience is having a pleasant, positive attitude. 

What else? One unusual way for a better customer experience is, when they launch into a story, listen. And I mean listen. That is, make eye contact, smile, nod your head, raise your eyebrows, and ask questions. When people are telling stories (or hearing them) their brains put out serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins—known as happy chemicals—which make them feel good (discovered in an fMRI brain scan). Whether you’re on the phone or in person, use phrases like, “How exciting!”, “That’s neat to hear”, “Yes, I remember you telling me that. How’s that going?”  

What could be better than customers feeling good at your shop? They then connect your business with feeling good.

Tell customers stories. When a customer hears a fun customer story, they sense that car repair at your shop can have a light side and be a good experience. Think of your own shop stories. It doesn’t have to be all car stories, either. So, start collecting fun customer stories. Hopefully, that will trigger some additional stories from your past. 

Here’s what not to do. I recall a customer showing a shop owner a video of his girlfriend’s puppy playing in the snow for the first time. The owner glanced over, but quickly grabbed his phone and showed a picture of his daughter’s dog in the snow. That isn’t a nice thing to do with anybody, much less a customer. Instead, watch the video, let them tell you about it, enjoy it, and maybe ask questions. Then you can grab your phone to trade stories, but don’t try to top their story; that’s high school stuff. 

For your new and newish customers to share stories with you, they need to be comfortable with you and you with them. You need to work toward a good relationship because when you understand who they are, you can better connect with them and they with you. 

Gaining this knowledge of your customers doesn’t just happen. You have to have real conversations. Those conversations are much better, and more fun, than trying to sell benefits, value, and safety. No one likes to be sold.  

Side note: it’s the great experiences that get great reviews; the ones that bring in a new customer, not the merely OK experiences. One example of a merely satisfied customer is one who waits for and gets an oil change and is simply satisfied.  

Final thought: these conversations may appear to the shop owner that you are wasting time on the phone gabbing with your customer. But I believe with the higher percentage of yes’s, higher ARO’s, and better reviews the owner will come around. 


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