smart_chat_logo2-01Portions of the following post have been submitted to appear in the next Shop Owner Magazine issue about communication between technicians and service advisor.


The paperless operation, including getting rid of the paper rack with work orders and other paperwork has come a long way.

  • The paper rack has been replaced by touch screens and/or big TV screens for everybody to see where each vehicle is in the workflow
  • The presentation of inspection and other findings to the motorist on paper at the counter has been replaced by emails containing the inspection results enriched with images and educational videos
  • Technicians don’t need to clock in with punch cards or other archaic methods anymore
  • The worksheet on paper has been replaced by its equivalent on the tablet.
  • Progress reports from technicians to the service advisor have been replaced by built-in monitoring on the tablet and automated update on the computer screen for the service advisor.

All these enhancements have been made possible due to the internet based IT infrastructure where the Shop Management Software (SMS) and its database is made available in the cloud, so that mobile devices and the service advisors screen are updated in real-time. But what about the communication between the technician and service advisor about specific problems encountered, which need a fast answer or a response to the customer waiting on the phone? Doesn’t the technician need to go back to the front office and the whole computerization of the communication has its limits right when this happen? Are we now forcing technicians to use the keyboards on tablets to finger type and it takes 10 times longer than a quick hauler to the service advisor? Not really… There is no limit to digital communication and the following chapters introduce the “(almost) type free chat” for the technician to communicate.

“Clicking on the link from the tablet and everything about the job is right in front of me”

Lets take a look at speeding up the Service Advisor’s work through smart communication leveraging chat. Often the technicians discover things while working on a particular job. They leave a note, snap a picture and add this to the job on the worksheet. The image below shows the tablet screen in the moment when Jamie is about to hit the ‘smart chat’ button (red arrow) after he selected how far he is into the job (50%, marker A), snapped one picture (marker B) and added a note (marker C).

Smart chat

Motsen receives the following chat after that

smart chat service advisor








and clicks on the link for RO# 148258 (marker 1). His browser opens and takes him exactly to the spot on the workorder where the job is highlighted and he can explore the note and image.

highlighted job details with markers



Motsen then asks Jamie to re-take the rotor image for better illustration of the work once the customer is picking up the vehicle.

Decisive Actions in a Heartbeat

Communication between Technician and Service Advisor is crucial for a highly effective workflow in the shop. The tablet for the technician and the computer for the service advisor are at hand even to do the most event driven communication. All information is at both the tech’s and service advisor’s fingertips and moreover can be tracked and audited by the shop owner to uncover potential for improvements. The next step is to tap into ‘big data’ and make the technician’s life even easier. I’ll keep you posted about that, so please stay tuned.