How To Handle ‘Helpful’ Customers

October 5, 2002
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You are called out to service a piece of refrigeration equipment. As soon as you arrive on the job, the customer follows every move you make. After you’ve looked at the equipment for only a few seconds, he wants to know what the problem is and how much it will cost to fix it.

Sometimes he’ll even tell you what the problem is. Does this sound familiar? “All it needs is a little Freon.”

This scenario puts the service technician in a very uncomfortable position, especially someone new to the field or one unsure how to troubleshoot the system. He needs to tell the customer to leave him alone and let him do his job. But remembering his customer service skills, he needs to be cautious with his words and careful not to offend the customer.

A technician should never tell nosey customers, “Hey, can you leave me alone and let me do my job!” This will surely offend most customers and present a very unprofessional image of the technician and his company.


There are a few methods a technician can try in order to get a customer to leave him alone.

One way is to get the customer involved with the repair. Simply asking him to get something — like rags or a bucket of water or anything that relates to the repair — may be the trick. Keeping the customer busy gives the technician time to do his job.

Another method is for the tech to explain everything he is doing to the equipment. Some-times the customer just wants to make sure the technician is competent. By giving the customer a lot of technical information and explaining what he is doing, the technician will instill confidence in his abilities.

If the customer just won’t leave the area, then the technician needs to grin and bear it; pay no attention to the customer and get the job done. This may difficult at times, but needs to be done.

If the customer begins to interfere outright with the repair, the technician should call his office, explain the situation, and let the office decide how to best handle the situation. Of course, this call should be made from the van or another phone where the customer will not overhear the conversation.

Dealing with difficult customers is something every technician will encounter and must learn to handle. Every situation is different, and technicians need to learn how to handle each one appropriately.

Handling these difficult customers with respect will contribute greatly to a company’s success.

Marchese is owner of Coldtronics of Pittsburgh, PA. He can be reached at 412-734-4433; (website); or (e-mail).

Publication date: 10/07/2002

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