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View Your Website Through a Customer’s Eyes

Internet Bells and Whistles Don’t Always Translate to HVAC Sales

Whether paying bills, ordering dinner, or staying in touch with friends and family, the Internet has become an integral part of our daily lives. It should be no surprise therefore that potential customers go to the Web when looking for someone to take care of their air conditioning and heating systems. The Internet plays such an important role, that an entire search engine optimization (SEO) industry has sprung up to manipulate where websites appear when a search is performed. The closer to the top of the list a company’s website appears, the greater the odds a potential customer will click on it.

Jim Hughes
Jim Hughes

Unfortunately, all the SEO magic in the world will not bring in new customers if once they look at your webpage they don’t stay. Many websites are difficult to navigate and full of useless information, leaving visitors lost and frustrated. Remember, hundreds of companies are just a click away and making your website easy for visitors to use is more than smart business; it’s a matter of survival.

Keep It Fast

Filling your webpage with huge picture files arranged in a flashy slide show accompanied by fist-pumping music may look really cool, but it may cause lengthy loading times. Potential customers experiencing a problem have considerably less patience than a casual browser. If your page takes longer than five seconds to load, a lot of visitors will leave. Work with your Web developer to keep the picture resolution and file sizes as managable as possible while maintaining the quality. Smaller file sizes load faster and will help keep visitors from clicking away.

Less Is More

If it takes longer than a minute to find all the information on a page, then there is too much on the page. Be sure the links to other pages on your website are large and easy to find. Having plenty of white space (areas of no text or pictures), and using dark text on a light background is much easier for people to read. The text should also be large enough that it can be easily read without the visitor changing the resolution on his or her computer screen. Since many people are just looking for your phone number, be sure it is prominently displayed on each page of your website.

Avoid Equipment Brands

Affiliating your company with a highly recognizable equipment brand has definite advantages, but listing the brand on your website doesn’t necessarily bring in more customers. The purpose of a company’s website is to demonstrate to potential customers that your company is the best choice to take care of their needs. Listing an equipment brand on your website places your company on an equal level with other companies dealing the same brand. There is also the possibility that potential customers have a negative feeling about the brand you sell or a preference for another brand that would cause them to leave your website. Leaving this out of your website gives you an opportunity to educate them as to why the brand you use is the best option for them.

Meet the Team

Pictures with the caption “has been with the company for five years, likes boating, fishing, and long walks on the beach,” isn’t really what a potential customer is looking for on your website. If you include a picture and bio of your employees, make sure it includes their professional qualifications, awards, and certifications. It’s a good practice to limit individual photos to owners and managers. Group photos reflect the image of your company. Be sure that everyone is well groomed and presents the proper company image. Be absolutely sure you keep photos and bios up to date. It can be very embarrassing when a customer asks about a particular person from the website only to find out they left the company months ago.

Focus on the Customer

Avoid listing company features like “radio-dispatched trucks” or “our trucks carry thousands of dollars of parts.” Frankly, customers don’t care if your trucks have radios, cell phones, or two cans with a really long string. In fact, if you advertise that you have thousands of dollars of parts, the customer may begin to wonder how much this will influence the cost of repairs.

Focus on customer benefits, such as, “We stay in constant contact with our technicians to make sure we arrive on time.” And, “We carry a wide variety of parts on our trucks so we can resolve your problem in one visit.”

After reviewing dozens of websites, the most glaring examples of not being customer focused center on maintenance agreements. Some literally describe how to do the inspection, saying things like: “clean electronic air cleaner with hose, re-install cells, and clean calcium from humidifier tray.” Instead of expecting a potential customer to scroll through a seemingly endless list of check points, focus on the benefits of a maintenance agreement, like, “Equipment manufacturers, government agencies, and industry studies all agree that regularly scheduled service is the best way to reduce utility costs, prevent unexpected break downs, and extend the life of your system. Joining our maintenance-agreement program will provide the service your system needs in addition to giving you priority service and a 15 percent savings on any repairs.”

Avoid at all Costs

“We’ve been in business since…” doesn’t say anything positive to a customer. “We’ve been keeping our friends and neighbors comfortable for over…” is more meaningful.

Listing office hours implies you may not be available when needed. A potential customer who needs help late at night may click to the next website before they realize you have 24-hour emergency service. Instead of listing your hours say “We’re always available” or “We’re there when you need us.”

Industry acronyms like SEER, NATE, etc., have to be explained so potential customers feel comfortable with them. Define acronyms in layman’s terms: “SEER is like miles per gallon for your air conditioner, the higher the SEER, the less you pay to cool your home,” or, “Only the best technicians are certified by North American Technician Excellence (NATE),” and, “All of our technicians are NATE certified.” This will build value and help you gain customers.

Consider your website the way your customers see it. Better yet, have a friend take a look at your website and ask him to share his honest opinion. A few tweaks and a little rewording may be all it takes to turn visitors into customers.

Publication date: 9/30/2013 

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