Recently, a well-regarded OEM executive asked our team a question that goes to the core of our program. This executive noted that he had seen ClearMechanic in use at a variety of service centers, but wondered how exactly the photos and diagrams convinced car owners to say “Yes” to repair recommendations? We prepared a detailed written response that is copied below. We want there to be no doubt about the power of “visual explanations” to transform the communication between service centers and car owners.
“Thanks for your note and the opportunity to explain our program. I believe the following points will help clarify how our technology brings significant clarity to the communication between service departments and their customers:
1) The Context of an Additional Service Recommendation or “Upsell”: Our technology is used any time a service advisor is attempting to explain a recommended repair to a customer. Numerous surveys show that this is one of the top frustrations for customers – the dreaded “upsell” conversation. Because these conversations generally occur over the phone and include technical jargon, the customer rarely understands exactly what is being recommended. This typically results in one of two outcomes: a) the customer approves the recommendation but does not feel good about it or b) the customer declines the recommendation. If it’s the first outcome, that customer may never return to the service department and could leave a negative review on Google or Yelp. If it’s the second outcome, the service department has lost a high-margin job.
I bring up this context because any evaluation of ClearMechanic’s technology must be in comparison to the current process, which we know is failing. Customers simply do not trust automotive service centers, proved by high decline rates and low retention.
2) Types of ClearMechanic Photos and How they Clarify Repair Recommendations for the Customer: We let service departments “visually explain” repair recommendations. The phone call from the service advisor still takes place, but it is supplemented by a real-time photo of the customer’s vehicle as well as expert diagrams and text explanations.
We think of our photos as falling into one of several categories. I have provided examples of each category below.
- Photos that definitively prove a repair is necessary: In these situations, the customer can look at the photos, diagrams and text and be confident a repair must be done. Here are just a few examples of this:
a) tire photos showing tread depth is below the manufacturer’s recommended minimum or below the legal minimum
b) battery test results where the reading clearly shows “Replace Battery”
c) brake rotor photos showing measurements from a micrometer
- Photos that have obvious visual evidence but still require some explanation by the service advisor. Here are just a few examples of this:
d) brake pad photos showing thickness measurements
- Photos that are only helpful with significant explanation by the service advisor. There are many examples of this that you can view at any of our client sites. In these situations, the service department is trying to explain a complex repair (perhaps a flywheel or differential replacement) and wants to use visual evidence to explain why the repair will be so expensive.
3) ClearMechanic Photos Also Help Technicians Communicate with Service Advisors: Many service advisors simply read a technician’s notes and pass that along to customers. However, because the advisor has not inspected the vehicle and seen the issue with his / her own eyes, the advisor is not equipped to provide a strong explanation to the customer. With ClearMechanic, the technicians can visually explain to the advisor what the problem is. You may have seen the recent NBC Today Show investigative video showing dealership service advisors doing a very poor job of explaining repair recommendations. If they had photos and diagrams, that explanation would be categorically better.