Mar 03, 2020

Portal to Profit: Putting the Customer Portal to Work

Portal to Profit: Putting the Customer Portal to Work

There’s a lot of frustration that comes with running a repair shop. Your customers are Priority #1, but despite your best efforts, keeping them happy can seem like a moving target.

Why is that?

The answer usually has multiple parts, but what we’ve learned here at Fullbay is that customers often don’t feel heard. The truth is that getting information out of a shop can be something of a crapshoot. You no doubt start out with the best intentions, but life in a busy repair shop gets…well, busy.

Let’s say a customer has a question and calls in. The shop, unfortunately, does not have Fullbay, so here’s how that conversation goes:

If the tech working on a particular vehicle isn’t around, then an awkward game of Telephone kicks off, with information being conveyed through various people, subtly changing until what began as a question about an axle turns into an expensive and unnecessary fix.

Sometimes customers got the information they needed; sometimes they didn’t. The lack of transparency was frustrating for everyone – especially shop owners like you, who do want to be transparent with your customers.

We set out to solve the problem of transparency with Fullbay’s customer portal – and along the way, we realized that the portal could help shop owners and customers in other ways.

It’s All About Communication

As we mentioned above, no one likes playing Telephone – or its annoying cousin, Phone Tag – when thousands of dollars are at stake.

Fullbay’s customer portal gives your clients a direct line to the tech(s) who will be working on their vehicles. They can submit a repair request, in their own words, directly to that tech. We’ve found this makes a huge and positive impact on customer trust in a shop; they are confident that their request is going where it ought to. The tech can even provide updates as the work goes on, ensuring the customer’s needs are met. It’s all done automatically through the cloud – no need for phone calls or transcribing messy notes.

This transparency and ability to communicate elevates the relationship into more of a partnership, which can lead to extraordinary loyalty.

We don’t need to mention how important loyalty is to a growing shop, right?

Manage Your Fleet

Fleet management software solves a lot of problems – but it’s also expensive. Often prohibitively so. Many of your customers have likely bypassed purchasing such software and are relying on their own people to keep track of everything.

That’s a lot of administrative downtime for them. Think about everything you need to keep track of to manage a fleet! Yikes.

We thought about that, too.

Fullbay’s customer portal acts as a far less expensive version of fleet management software. Your customers can see every truck they’ve registered with the shop (which then adds the truck to Fullbay) – and if the shop is servicing their entire fleet, well, they can look over the entire fleet. Status checks are easy: they jump on their phone, tablet, or computer, and they can see what vehicles are in the shop or their yard. They can also see scheduled PMs and even browse each truck’s repair history.

This frees up a ton of time for your customers’ staff. They appreciate being able to go back to their regular jobs without being stuck chasing down details of this or that vehicle. It’s become such a hit with customers that some shops are even working it into their marketing plans!

Empower Your Customers

Everyone likes feeling like they’re in control of their lives – even your customers. Maybe especially your customers. They’ve put their vehicle (or vehicles) into your hands, and they’re trusting that you’ll do the job properly.

Customers with multiple trucks in your shop can prioritize what order they want you to work on them. Does one vehicle need to be back on the road before the others? Is there a specific problem the customer wants the tech to look at when they present them with three otherwise identical trucks? The portal lets a customer share that information with you and your tech; it also lets them peek into the repair process to see what stage each truck is at. Is it still being evaluated and diagnosed? Or has it moved on to repair or even completion?

The portal also lets you reach out to customers via email to inform them of authorization requests, invoices, and updates on a service order. From there, the customer can review the information, authorize a repair, pay an invoice (automatically via credit card, or by check), or just nod and smile because they’re pleased you kept them in the loop.

Your customers are likely used to playing one of the phone games. They’re ready to brace themselves before picking up the phone to ask for or deliver information. The portal strips out all that extra noise and gives them a direct line to your shop. No phones, no voicemails, no hoping a message gets passed along the chain to a tech. The communication highway is wide open, and your customers now have the power to put the pedal to the metal.

We probably don’t need to mention this makes them really, really happy.

It Protects You, Too

You know the saying: Always have a paper trail. Fullbay does that for you – without killing a ton of trees.

Fullbay doesn’t just give your customer a look behind the repair shop curtain. It also provides a written record of PMs and repair recommendations. Some of these may have been fulfilled; others may have been ignored. If you end up facing potential questions about a vehicle in the event of a problem, you can pull up your service records and let them speak for themselves.

We hope you don’t need to use it for that, but it never hurts to have the facts on your side.

Elevate Your Relationships

Don’t get us wrong: the customer portal isn’t a silver bullet (yet). It can go a long way in securing customers for you, but you’ve still got to do your part. You need to uphold your end of the relationship by acting with integrity and providing excellent service. That, combined with the portal, shouldn’t leave your customers with any reason to leave you for a competitor.

Ready to give it a try for yourself? Request a demo of Fullbay and see how the customer portal can take your shop to the next level.

Suz Baldwin