Repairing refrigeration equipment — or, really, any equipment — has a huge customer service component. How you interact with the customer greatly affects how the customer views your company and whether they will call on you again for future repairs. The saying “It may take years to win a customer and only seconds to lose one” is very true, especially when it comes to repairing refrigeration equipment.

Customers are rarely happy to see a repair technician — they’re calling you because they have a breakdown, and the breakdown is costing them money. They need to pay for the repair, which could be expensive, and they may have lost product. The breakdown and the repair could also affect how they operate their business — the failed equipment may be integral to their operation, and/or the repair process may become disruptive to their workflow. As a technician, how you coordinate the repair is very important. Your customer service skills can either make the repair process more manageable or make it a nightmare.

However, there are times when you have no control over how a customer is going to react to the repair. You can handle everything correctly and still have a customer who is upset with you or your company. And even worse, you could have been servicing the customer for years and they were happy with your service, but now with the current repair, it seems like you are dealing with them for the first time. They do not trust your diagnosis and believe your pricing to be way too high. In reality, it has not changed, but they are convinced that it has.

One of the oddities in this business is trust. It seems the higher the repair cost, the lower the trust level. If you are able to repair the equipment cheaply, you are a hero, and they agree with everything you say. But if the repair is expensive, it seems you have to sell them on your diagnosis because they do not believe the repair can be so costly. They think you must have missed something. This is not always the case, but it certainly does happen.

So how do you handle an unhappy customer? To begin, be a good listener and understand their frustration about the current problem. Remember to not take it personally; generally, it is not you they are upset with, unless you did something to cause them to be upset with you. Always be confident in your explanation of the repair and what needs to be done to resolve the issue. Do not become argumentative; if you find yourself in conflict with the customer, get your office or supervisor involved. Always stay in control of the repair process and maintain a professional attitude. Assure them you will handle the problem promptly and efficiently. Do not make any promises you can’t keep, and remember to treat them the way you would like to be treated as a customer. Always be fair and treat them with respect.

In the end, you may not have any control over how the customer will react, so you are only as good as your last service call.