AUGUSTA, GA — An Augusta heating and air conditioning contractor has earned one of the top customer-satisfaction scores in a national quality survey conducted by Trane.

Busby's Heating and Air Conditioning was recognized in a letter of commendation from Dale Green, vice president of residential sales and marketing for Trane Unitary Products.

The ongoing survey, part of Trane's Comfort Specialist Program, requests input from approximately 450,000 consumers a year who have recently bought from or received service from a Trane Comfort Specialist dealer. It asks consumers to rate their satisfaction in 18 categories. The company calculates the scores and provides feedback to dealers, who use the scores to monitor and improve their performance.

"The survey represents the customers' voice, not ours," said Green. "And Busby's customers are among the most satisfied in the nation." The company earned an average satisfaction score of 98.2 out of a possible 100 points, among the highest scores nationwide. The company scored 100% on three of the customer satisfaction categories, including responsiveness and quality of presentation.

Said Green, "Comfort Specialists are our very best dealers. They've all made significant investments in training and service, and take their scores very seriously. Nationally, the average scores range in the high 90% range. It's a competitive group — and Busby's is one of the best."

A family-owned business founded in 1945, the dealership has always had a heavy emphasis on customer service, says vice president Rick Busby. Here are some of the ways the firm stays at the top of its game:

  • Measurement and Feedback: Busby's relies heavily on feedback from its customers. The Trane survey provides feedback on dimensions of service, such as knowledge and professionalism of the technicians, convenience of service hours, quality of the work and care of the customer's home. Busby's also sends out its own surveys to customers. This feedback is shared with the entire staff.

  • Communication: Rick Busby said, "I've found that in most cases, if your people know what you want and what you expect, they'll deliver. The better we communicate, the better they do." Technicians and salespeople meet every morning in the company’s 900-sq-ft classroom to go over the day's jobs, review any special requirements, and make sure that the technicians are thoroughly briefed on each customer's needs and expectations. Technicians are given a map to the customer's location, a work order, list of materials to be used, and any special requirements.

  • Continuous Training: The maintenance and installation staffs meet once a week for training on safety, technical, and customer-service topics. Technicians are now studying for NATE certification — an industry-wide certification program for technicians. They also attend industry seminars and training classes, and when they return, they're expected to train the rest of the staff on what they've learned.

  • Careful Follow-up: A quality-assurance (QA) specialist follows up on jobs, using a formal checklist. The inspector can often fix any problems on the spot, before the homeowner even knows about it.

  • Bonuses for Quality: The firm has a monthly bonus program for installers and repair personnel. When their jobs earn a perfect score from the QA inspection, they earn money toward the bonus. But the bonus is reduced for any jobs that fail to pass. Savings from reduced callbacks offset the cost to the company for the bonuses, said Rick Busby.

  • Experienced Workforce: Busby's places a high priority on keeping experienced people. Many staff members have been with the company for more than 25 years. "Our people know the business, and they know our expectations," said Rick Busby.

  • Focus on the Total Customer Experience: Technical excellence is not enough, Rick Busby said. "When you complete an installation, most homeowners won't be able to judge whether you've done a technically perfect job or not. But they will notice whether you kept their house clean, and whether you were polite and helpful. That's how they will judge quality." The firm goes the extra step; for example, installers and technicians wear disposable booties over their work boots whenever they're in the customer's home. Rick Busby said, "I tell customers: You'll never know we were there — unless your house is cleaner than you left it."

  • Professionalism: The company sets the bar high for professionalism throughout the organization. The company insists on punctuality and grooming standards. It enforces a strict drug-free workplace policy. Its workers wear uniforms and I.D. badges.

    Over the years, Busby's has been recognized with a number of local and industry awards. It was named “Business of the Year” by the Augusta Chamber of Commerce and its Drugs Don't Work program. In 2000, it was recognized as the “Contractor of the Year” by the Conditioned Air Association of Georgia and as “Southeast Region Residential Contractor of the Year” by Excellence Alliance. Busby's has been a member of the Trane Comfort Specialist program since March 1999.

    Publication date: 02/25/2002