Article | Complete the Customer Picture With New Insights

Safelite AutoGlass Gives Data Insight a Seat at the Table

To meet the needs of today’s hyper-connected, always-on consumers, even glass repair companies need a digital strategy. Great online experiences are important not only for e-commerce retailers, but also for companies like Safelite AutoGlass. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Safelite AutoGlass is part of Safelite Group and offers automotive glass repair and replacement services in all 50 states. 

Nearly half (45 percent) of U.S. consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly, reports Forrester. And given that many first-time customer interactions take place online, having an up-to-date website that is connected to other parts of the company is critical.

But what defines an excellent online experience when you’re selling auto glass repair services? The company turned to data capturing, A/B testing, and statistical analyses to differentiate its customer experience, says Renee Cacchillo, senior vice president of customer, brand, and technology at Safelite AutoGlass.

“We studied companies that provide the best online experiences like Google and Amazon [in regards to customer-friendly features such as search capabilities and product recommendations]. Even though we know we’re never going to beat those companies, we have to be able to offer similar online services and features that people are used to receiving,” Cacchillo says. 

Her team also turned to data from the company’s Net Promoter Score surveys to better understand what types of improvements her customers were looking for. Safelite had accumulated reams of survey data, but until recently no one had taken responsibility for spearheading the interpretation and analysis of the data. 

That changed earlier this year when Cacchillo took on the task of leading an initiative to work with the IT team in uncovering customer insights to enable Safelite to more effectively meet the needs of its customers.  

“We had been collecting a lot of data from NPS surveys that we weren’t mining,” Cacchillo says. The survey data offered an opportunity to “find out what do people not like [about Safelite’s customer experience] and what I found were many comments about what could be improved, like our website.”

For example, customers were confused as to why they had to fill out a long questionnaire to make an appointment for minor repairs, and where to find simple information. Other customers asked why they had to submit their email address before receiving a quote. 
If the customer journey is a lifecycle, with the end of one journey feeding into the beginning of another, there are many possibilities for customers to be lured away by the competition or a poor user experience. It often takes only one truly disappointing experience to lose a customer for a lifetime.

Safelite therefore jumped into action to simplify its website. Instead of automatically requesting certain information like an email address or birthday “just because we like to have that information,” the company only requests data that it absolutely needs, such as contact information or the vehicle identification number (VIN), Cacchillo says. 

In addition, the team added photos and videos to the site to give users more information. For example, tutorials show customers where to find their vehicle identification number on their car or how to describe the color of a tinted window. And after learning that a technician enlisted a friend to record a video using sign language to explain repairs to a deaf customer, Cacchillo spearheaded the development of official company videos in American Sign Language and Spanish. These videos are now available to technicians through their company-provided smartphones.

The company even changed the wording of a few calls to action. Previously, customers would see a text box on Safelite.com that read “enter your promo code here” but “the feedback we got was that it’s confusing for users because it makes you think you have to find a promo code to proceed,” Cacchillo says. The text was changed to “Do you have a promo code?”  

Data tools boost employee engagement
Cacchillo also introduced a workforce management system called FlexForce through a partnership with Kronos that helps managers organize labor schedules more efficiently and streamline operations. The company typically organizes its technicians’ schedules on a daily and weekly basis, but the schedules could be even more precise if they included other factors such as weather and traffic conditions, Cacchillo explains. 

“Our technicians are everything to us—what matters isn’t the glass that we provide, it’s the service and memorable experience that only a technician can deliver,” Cacchillo says. “And so it’s important that we make it as easy as possible for our technicians to keep track of their appointments and manage their schedules efficiently.” 

It was also important that the company streamline its operations so technicians are actually working when they are scheduled to work. However, many variables affect a technician’s schedule including customer demand, weather, traffic, and drive-time. 

The new program helps managers create accurate labor schedules based on their store’s unique historical data and the current trends happening within the market. For example, historical data might show managers that customer demand peaks on Friday and Saturday. The system also takes traffic and weather conditions into consideration, so that managers will know how many technicians they need on staff and to space appointments within a certain period of time.

 The system’s ability to match customer demand with resources has a 95 percent accuracy rate. “Our managers can see within 15-minute increments exactly how many replacements and repairs they can expect to have that day, which helps them plan accordingly,” Cacchillo says. 

Technicians appreciate the benefits of the scheduling tool, which contributes to employee engagement. And of course, this impacts the customer experience by helping technicians show up for appointments on time, which helps consumers be more efficient with their time, as well. Cacchillo also suggested adding an automated “on-my-way” text alert that’s sent to customers prior to the appointment.

ROI and lessons learned from improved data focus
The company’s efforts to improve its customer experience paid off. By simplifying the online scheduling process, Safelite saw a 12 percent increase in the number of consumers who scheduled appointments compared to last year. Additionally, online requests for quotes went up 66 percent and the company’s Net Promoter Score increased three points this year, which the company attributes to the improvements it made to its customer experience.

More enhancements are coming. The company is still working on providing a “true omnichannel experience,” Cacchillo says. “Whether you’re coming in through social media, mobile, the Web, or in-person we want to know that you contacted us and make your interactions with us seamless, but something like that takes time.”

Indeed, the hardest part of making improvements is “deciding when you have enough data to work with,” she adds. “It’s easy to collect data and fail to act on those insights, but eventually you just have to start moving.” 

For other companies that want to improve their customer experience, it’s important to listen to customer complaints—as well as compliments, Cacchillo says. “Make sure you’re also listening to what you do well, because you don’t want to accidentally change something and cause harm,” she advises. “Don’t change just for change’s sake.” 