We run service businesses, and we have customers. So, we must be providing customer service, right? But, how do you know if you’re providing “real” customer service?
I believe it all comes down to motivation. Why would a company be interested in providing what has commonly been termed customer service? For the most part, the typical business owner or department manager has a genuine interest in keeping customers satisfied. In fact, often, the written or expressed goal is customer satisfaction. If you provide a good service and make the experience pleasant, customers walk away satisfied and ready to use the company again in the future. If you really go above and beyond, customers might even tell someone else about their good experiences.
Is this the true motivation for good customer service? For some companies, it is. Lots of companies have procedures and policies that provide customers with fair and efficient service. The processes are designed to guide customers through a logical and regimented experience that makes sense and gives customers exactly what they’re seeking.
In the case of an HVAC service company, the expectation occurs when a call is placed and a knowledgeable person handles the call and schedules the appropriate visit. In a reasonable amount of time, a competent service technician shows up, assesses the problem, explains the situation to the homeowner, gets approval for any required work, and quickly and efficiently performs the work or handles the problem. A fair price is documented on an invoice, which is presented and explained. The payment is made, and everyone goes on with their day. This procedure will hopefully result in a profit for the company, a satisfying experience, and repeat business.
If organized correctly, companies are able to achieve a certain level of success, for the most part. The problem comes when all the stars don’t align properly. If there is a hiccup in the process, things don’t go as planned, or a member of the team doesn’t complete his or her job properly, the customer interaction is unable to follow the intended path, and the customer’s experience is negative. The key is motivation.
MORE THAN PROFITS
When profit reigns as king and the goal is to provide an experience that yields profit, more work, and referrals, it will have limited success. We all know there are companies out there that have one goal in mind — generate profit. I’m not suggesting in any way that generating a profit is bad or corrupt. I’ve actually been guilty of achieving it a few times here in my business. While profit is essential to keeping the lights on, if making money is the only goal on the table, we may be headed down a road that leads to nowhere. But, what if the motivation is actually service itself?
What if customers were being served at every level? When the call is made, the person receiving the call is trying to serve the customer by meeting their immediate needs. This involves trying to figure out what their frustrations are and finding a way to resolve them. If the proper questions are asked, a resolution to the caller’s problem may be reached over the phone. There are times when a dirty filter, unplugged condensate pump, or nuisance tripped breaker can prevent a system from working. Are we willing to serve our customers by trying to eliminate the need for a service call, or is the goal to get a call scheduled? Fortunately, in many cases, the best way to serve the customer is by scheduling a qualified technician to come out and perform a diagnosis. Now, our goal becomes serving the customer by honoring the commitment we made to arrive when promised. Proper communication and a commitment to appointment times is paramount. We are not serving anybody by having them sit around all day thinking someone is going to show up when a disorganized schedule, unrealistic expectation, or empty promise makes it impossible to arrive on time. When a visit to the home is made, the technician is concerned about the customer’s problem and is attempting to serve the customer by trying to eliminate it. An assessment of the problem often yields work that needs to be performed. If work is required, the technician serves the customer by fully explaining what work would need to be done, why it needs to be done, how the customer would benefit from the work, the expected cost, and the value of the investment. Completing the work with excellence is the final step in serving the customer. When true service is achieved for the right reasons, the other goals of profit and referrals will follow naturally. I’ve found that in a profitable and highly successful business, profit and referrals do not need to be the expressed goal. You can achieve all your dreams by simply being a servant.
Publication date: 10/12/2015