Businesses in the HVAC niche — and across the home service industry — have a unique problem that not all other customer-facing entities deal with. When customers call you, they’re often already frustrated or upset, and it has nothing to do with anything you did yet. A client calling you because their air conditioning suddenly went out in July isn’t likely to be ecstatic, and even if their equipment hasn’t come to a screeching halt, if they suspect something’s wrong, they could be anxious about the expense or hassle of a repair.
It puts you and your employees in a rough place: how do you ensure customer satisfaction, client retention and good word-of-mouth if the client starts out angry?
While you may have to take a few steps to make it so, this seeming imbalance actually makes it possible for you to make huge customer satisfaction wins — if your teams are properly empowered. Here are four ways to support your staff in wowing customers during service calls.
Provide customer service training
You don’t assume just any hire off the street has the relevant technical skills for the job — either you hire someone with experience and a proven track record or you train them to handle repairs and installations. In most cases, you do both.
But many HVAC and service companies assume new employees will be able to navigate customer service without training, which is rarely true. Provide regular training and in-office talks about how to handle different customer service situations to keep field techs and office staff in line with your business vision and values.
For example, one HVAC company owner recounts a time he hired a young man who didn’t have ideal customer service skills. Something as small as sitting next to a customer on the couch to discuss the job — without asking — made his clients uncomfortable.
By incorporating regular customer service training, businesses can use small issues like this as illustrations and teachable moments, potentially avoiding bigger customer service issues down the road.
Create a viable, fast escalation process
Even techs that are pros with customer service — from little communications to solving big problems in the field — won’t hit a home run every time. Sometimes, a tech runs into a client they simple can’t please, and the reason could be anything. The tech might not have the right title or clout for the client, or they simply may rub each other the wrong way without it being the employee’s fault.
Don’t expect your service techs to battle a customer service issue when their back is against the wall and there’s no way out. Provide a viable escalation process that gets a supervisor on the phone or on-site in an appropriate way to appease the customer and let the tech finish the work so they can move on to wow the next client.
Invest in good product
One of the best ways to back up your field staff is to provide them with product that holds up to customer expectations and demands. Invest in high-quality products, from installation units to tools, to ensure techs can make honest guarantees about their work.
Create a process for following up with customers in a surprising way
Finally, take a note from Reliable Heating & Air, which is the largest Trane dealer in North America. The company reportedly shows up a few days after a service call or installation to check on the client and deliver cookies or candy.
A memorable follow-up is important because it:
- Lets customers know your company really cares
- Makes the final touchpoint of that particular interaction a positive one
- Reminds the customer just who solved their problem, especially now that they’ve had a few days to enjoy the solution
- Ensures the customer remembers you next time they need service
- Boosts the chance at positive word-of-mouth marketing
By taking time to train employees, empower and back them up while they’re in the field and remain fresh in customer minds, you can turn service calls into customer service wins.
Find out more about the intersection of customer service and the home service industry from the experts at Service World Expo.