This is an article I had the honor to contribute to the Shop Owner Magazine. Please Enjoy:

“This time, I want to stay on the topic of the web, but delve a bit further by focusing on how web technologies can have huge customer service benefits, at both the service counter and ­beyond.

In my experience working with dozens of auto repair shops, I have found two primary ways that web technologies have a positive customer service impact: customer appointment requests, and customer communication while the car is in the shop. In essence, web technology provides a “personal touch” similar to a telephone conversation, but in an always-on, multimedia environment that allows your service advisor to truly inform and educate current and potential ­customers.

Using the Web to Streamline the Customer Appointment ­Request Process

Did you know that the busiest day for web-based appointment requests is Sunday? Added to the fact that many appointment requests are made after business hours, it’s easy to see how the telephone is no longer the most effective way to meet busy motorists’ needs. Web-based appointments can change the game by allowing for an easy, two-part process: the appointment request, and the appointment confirmation.

If you’re a shop owner who feels like web-based appointment requests forego important direct contact with motorists, or fear that you’ll be inundated with customers who are simply shopping around for a price,consider this: A short, simple, web-based form, like the one you see below. It is optimized for mobile devices, which makes it easy for customers to make their initial request. And, it also sets up the perfect situation for a follow-up e-mail or phone call to fill in missing information — meaning that your service advisor can have that direct customer contact while weeding out the “price only” shoppers.

 

And the more convenient you can make the form, the better. For example, allowing an existing customer to select the vehicle she needs to be serviced from a drop down menu of cars associated with her account will save her time, and also show her that your shop really knows its stuff.

What’s the appropriate timeframe for responding to web-based appointment requests? Talking with shop owners, we’ve found the sweet spot to be within a few hours of receiving the request. Wait any longer, and you’ll run the risk that the motorist will start searching for another shop. Thankfully, smartphones and tablets make it easy to respond to appointment requests without being at the service desk. And, with the addition of smart software that integrates your appointment scheduler with your Google Calendar, you’ll be able to see current appointments and schedule new ones ­anytime you’re online.

 

 

Read here for the whole article

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