Customers today expect all of their interactions to be as efficient as ordering a pizza online — and the car repair process is no different. The rise of focused, consumer-centric platforms like Amazon has changed how people research their options, compare services, and ultimately make purchase decisions. As technology continues to simplify and enhance nearly all aspects of everyday life, auto shops need to evolve to meet their customers where they are.

Happy customers are the key to repeat, loyal customers. Giving your customers options for digital communication and payment, for example, removes unnecessary friction from the repair process to provide an experience that mimics other consumer purchases while creating a positive connection with your shop. A positive experience is more likely to get a glowing customer review or a reference to a friend, ultimately helping your shop bring in — and retain — more customers.

3 ways digital transformation can improve customer satisfaction

Getting a car repaired is already a stressful experience for many people. They may need to take time off work, rearrange their schedules, or be unable to do certain tasks that require driving. As a shop owner, it’s important to create peace of mind for the customer to make the process less of a hassle. Here are a few ways you can improve their experience with your shop that will also help you drive results for your business:

1) Send automated appointment reminders via text and/or email. 

It’s easy to forget any appointment in a busy schedule — including when your car is scheduled for a repair. This is why it’s essential for shops to offer automatic text and email-based appointment reminders sent directly to customers’ phones. Not only are your customers already likely familiar with automated reminders for things like doctor appointments, they can also greatly reduce no-shows. A customer can instantly reply to a reminder to let you know if they can’t make it to their appointment, and you can immediately respond to reschedule their appointment. Frank Powell, co-owner of Top Shop Auto, saw firsthand how automation through Shopmonkey’s software sped up processes all around. “We’ve seen a 75% decrease in customer no-shows, a 90% decrease in the number of phone calls we have to make, and a 20% growth in our gross monthly sales,” he said.

Do you know how much money your shop is losing to no-shows? Find out with our Customer No-Show Loss Calculator.

2) Allow customers to digitally approve estimates from anywhere.

Being able to quickly move cars through repairs helps customers feel like they are a priority and that their time is important to you. And just as customers don’t want to wait forever for repairs, it’s frustrating for shops if a vehicle is ready to be worked on but a customer hasn’t been able to approve the recommended service because you’ve been playing phone tag. By sending an estimate via text or email and allowing a customer to digitally approve services, you not only give customers the chance to respond when it’s convenient for them — say bye bye to phone tag — but your techs can get to work that much faster because customers can quickly approve or decline services even if they are in a meeting.

3) Provide the option to pay an invoice online. 

How many times do you personally decline a copy of your receipt or invoice, or better yet, take your printed copy and immediately crumple it up or throw it away? Your customers are no different. Especially in a post-pandemic world, people have become accustomed to touch-free/contactless interactions. In fact, people today prefer and expect to be able to pay online, and received a digital copy of their receipt. Plus, if the customer has already made their auto repair payment before they come to pick up their vehicle, it saves time and creates a smoother pickup process.

What’s more, many shops that offer text payment processing find that customers will pay for services before they are even completed — helping the shop keep a steady cash flow.

Providing features like automated reminders, digital authorization options, and online payment tools helps create satisfied, happy customers — all while being good for your bottom line. Many people already find the vehicle repair process to be stressful. By giving them a familiar consumer experience that emphasizes direct communication and efficiency, you can build trust and credibility to help keep your customers coming through the door.