Let’s start with a scenario: You wake up in the morning, ready to start your day with a nice hot shower. You turn your water on, waiting for it to warm up. Five minutes later, it’s still cold. You check your water heater. It’s leaking. Now you can’t have that hot shower, and neither can your spouse or kids. Great way to start off the day.

You’re stressed, frustrated, and overwhelmed. This is just one more thing to add to your plate. You get on Google and look up a few plumbing companies and start calling around, hoping — anticipating— that someone can take care of you and your family … today.

Someone answers the phone. The person is nice and pleasant as they greet you. You ask, “How much is it going to be to fix my water heater? Can you come out today?”

The CSR responds “It’s X dollars for us to come out. Then our technician will tell you an upfront price for how much it is going to be to repair. What is your address?”

You sit there, considering if you should call around or just go with it. You didn’t really feel cared about. You felt like you were being processed. They just answered the phone to take your money and get your address. You don’t feel special or at all like a valued customer. And you don’t want to pay X dollars just for someone to come out to your home and tell you what you already know — it is broken.

This scenario happens all day, every day. This is customer service. Someone answers the phone, responds to all your questions, and asks for your address. It is a Q&A session. It is not a conversation. Sure, the CSR can be pleasant and nice, but that isn’t enough anymore. Not if you want to stand out from your competition.

Customer service is reactive. It is a title or position. More time is taken telling others about company routine and policy and taking information rather than the giving of time. Customer service reps should be asking questions, showing compassion, getting customers to talk about themselves, their needs, and how they are feeling. That is the difference between providing customer service versus a customer experience.

By developing the skills to be proactive, we will be able to make a deeper, longer-lasting impression on our customers. Take the initiative of being the one to ask questions. Give a little bit of your time and make a connection with them. When they call in and ask, “How much is it going to be to fix my water heater? Can you come out today?” our proactive response should be:

  • “Yes! I can certainly help you out with that today. What is your name?”
  • “When did your water heater stop working? Has this ever happened before? Is it gas or electric? How old is it? Do you have kids or elderly folks in the home?”
  • “Oh no! That is no fun! I know cold showers can be miserable! I’m so glad you called today. I am going to take care of you. What does your schedule look like? When can we come out?”

It all comes down to how we make people feel. If they feel good, they will do business with us. As we learn to be proactive in our conversations and validate customers in their emotions, we will begin to notice that we get more done in less time because people actually like us, and our conversations will become easier. Customers have an emotional need to be understood. Talk to them about their needs before you talk to them about their address. If we do this, we will be providing experiences, not just answering phones and taking information.

Look for ways that you can take more initiative, be more observant, and give more of your time to your customers. Let’s not be just another company that answers a phone. Let’s strive to make connections with those we work with in a new and fresh way and provide better experiences.

Customer service and dispatching — or, more importantly, the customer experience delivered during the process – is a crucial driver of success for any home services company. To learn more about the process, and to access a free training package of resources that includes industry research, video lessons, sample presentation materials, and more, visit EGIA.org/ACHR-Customerservice.

Publication date: 12/17/2018

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