Auto Glass Week Attendees Take Home Business, Legal and Customer Service Tips
September 21, 2012

by Megan Headley, mheadley@glass.com

During this morning's Auto Glass Week™ seminars, attendees were treated to come concrete tips to take home on running their businesses more effectively.

Chris Umble, vice president of strategic initiatives for LYNX Services, rolled out a number of strategies for addressing the common business of customer service in this morning's session on "Meeting the Expectations of Insurance Customers and Consumers."

"Customer service, at the end of the day, is the thing we all have in common as we go about our duties in the auto glass ecosystem," Umble said. What's more, he added, "At the end of the day, customer service says everything about the business."

He defined "excellent" customer service as "the ability of an organization to constantly and consistently exceed the customer's expectations."

As Umble elaborated, "You can only meet expectations if you give the customer what they ask for. You can only exceed expectations if you give them something more ...If you wait until they ask you for the 'next generation' [product], where did they get that idea? Maybe from your competitors."

Umble added that he believes excellence in customer service is a function of change management, and the fine balance of change and consistency which seem to be opposing if equally critical components of customer service.

He pointed out that the AGRSS Standard is following the path to exceeding the "customer's" expectations. "Taking the practices and turning it into a standard is an innovation. What comes next is the training ... Out of that drives consistency," Umble said. "The validation step is what's going to drive consistency. As a result of that, differentiation will be the end product."

What's more, Umble added, even during yesterday's Auto Glass Safety Council Standards Committee Meeting, chair Bob Beranek was pointing out that at the next meeting, the group would promptly begin work no the next standard update - continuing to drive change.

Umble also said auto glass techs have told him that standard compliance - or consistency - is helping to save money via fewer callbacks.

Umble finished by offering a few recommendations to industry leaders in the audience for ensuring that their businesses are all seen for their strengths. He advised that attendees take advantage of this week's meeting of industry leaders to create a strategy to overcome perceived obstacles. He advised that each attendee enroll, adopt and promote industry best practices through AGRSS and ROLAGS standards. He encouraged attendees to welcome accountability, because validation by a third-party makes all that time and effort you've put into certification "worthwhile." Finally, he encouraged his listeners to embrace change change faster and more productively by going after the change that the customer wants and talking to colleagues here at the event about how to move the industry forward.

Later, Chuck Lloyd and Debra Nelson of Livgard & Lloyd succeeded in their goal of providing an hour's worth of business and legal tips sure to help auto glass businesses protect themselves.

The first idea was useful for the entire audience. Lloyd advised taking notes on all of the ideas being presented here at Auto Glass Week, but committing to implementing at least three of them after returning home.

Other tips included:

  • You need to put financial controls in place no matter how trustworthy you think your employees are," Nelson said. Even the best of employees sometimes make bad decisions, she said.
  • Lloyd implored listeners to explore Google, from free listings on Google Places to Google Plus business pages, to Google scholar's option for searching patents and legal documents. "It's amazing what's out there for free," Lloyd pointed out.
  • Collect what you are owed, Lloyd stressed. "If you have a short play problem, you have to first admit that you have a problem," he said. "There are tools that are available to you - go to glassBYTEs.com ... and search for Alpine Glass."
  • Nelson advised keeping one calendar for work and for home. "It's all equally important ... have it in one place so you can take care of everything in equal priority," she said.
  • Lloyd asked the audience how many times they've been told the customer has full glass coverage, only to find out that's not true. You need to document your calls in some way because it's the person who made the mistake - not you - who bears the responsibility, he advised.
  • Nelson suggested partnering with local police or fire department for a day of carseat safety, advertising that service and also getting out your name and positioning yourself as a community leader. "You want to make time for marketing, every single day," Nelson said, adding, "It can be so much simpler than we think." She suggested finding ways to make business and life intersect, like sponsoring a local baseball team or donating to a yearbook. On top of that, you want to be creative in your marketing to stay memorable.
  • They had a number of tips for streamlining email and technology but also advised investing in technology, such as tablets. "You can use an iPad, iPhone, tablet, to get a customer to sign on the spot ... and you've got the assignment done right there," Lloyd said. "One of the things I think you need to do on a reglar business is review your supplier relationships. Are the people you work with looking for ways to advance your business ...?" Lloyd asked.
  • "Make sure you have a written warranty for your work," Lloyd said. "I'm saying 'stand behind your work but make sure you have a written warranty that says exactly what that means.'"

The pair left the audience with this last tip: "So much of what we do in life and in business is try to avoid losing. You're much better off if you go out and try to win. It's the number-one thing you can do to help your business," Lloyd said.

Auto Glass Week continues in Louisville, Ky., through Saturday, September 22, with more educational seminars, the opening of the Exhibition/Extravaganza and the Pilkington Clear Advantage Auto Glass Technician Olympics and the Walt Gorman Memorial Windshield Repair Olympics. Stay tuned to glassBYTEs.com™ for updates straight from the show.

This story is an original story by AGRR™ magazine/glassBYTEs.com™. Subscribe to AGRR™ Magazine.
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