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Establishing an HVAC Service Call Response Protocol

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One of the key divisions of a service-oriented business is, of course, the Service Department.

This department not only supports the revenue stream for an HVAC contractor but also helps informally create new income. By ensuring that the company keeps its customers happy, these customers will speak highly of the continued support that they receive as a part of their purchase, earning the company a better reputation and word-of-mouth referrals.

As the Director of Operations for DUCTZ, a south Florida HVAC Contractor, I oversee our service call response system and protocol. We identify the significance of each customer by their level of urgency as well as their priority status within our system. We thoroughly discuss the customer’s issue with them and try to understand their problem as carefully as possible before we even visit. This helps us stay prepared for whatever our service technician’s may encounter.

It is recommended to establish a standard service call protocol as well as an after-hour service call protocol to ensure that each call is responded to and managed properly.

Create a Service Call Response Protocol.
The goal here is to ensure that each service call is managed properly to avoid a second visit. If the customer doesn’t ask for further service, then their need was clearly met.

It is important to manage these protocols to be sure that they are executed properly and systematically. One wrong move can jeopardize the effectiveness and quality of the service call.

Below are some guidelines on how to effectively create your protocol:

  • Who answers the call? (Answering service, in-house representative)
  • Who is available to fix the customer’s problem? (Technicians on call or dedicated each day)
  • How do you address the issue? (Tools, equipment and deployment)

These are essential parts of the protocol and should be the first items considered when establishing or identifying the structure of the system. These points can be assessed by the Owner, Operations Manager, Service Manager, or any other key personnel involved in the service call process.

Who is Answering the Call?
The best way to identify how to delegate this task is by thinking from the customer’s perspective. It is vital that the personnel that answers the call have good listening ability and be inquisitive. It is also very important to keep in mind that the call is your first tool in responding to the service call appropriately. An effective call should contain the specific nature of the issue. For example, in the case of our HVAC company, Air Handling Unit and Condenser location and accessibility as well as the current temperature in the house should all be discussed. Be sure to gather pertinent information that can guide the technician during troubleshooting to avoid delays and multiple visits.

Come Prepared or Go Home.

A problem our company routinely runs into is that there are a number of outdated units still present in residential homes. Certainly, this is the case in other fields as well. A part of your service call answering protocol should address this issue so that your service technicians are appropriately prepared for work on older equipment.

It is also important to ensure that measures are taken to ease the service technician’s difficulties on after-hour calls.  Ensuring that your technicians/service trucks are equipped with lighting equipment and commonly replaced parts is a great way of thinking ahead for any issues the technician may encounter when responding to an after-hour service call.

Seize the Moment.

Every opportunity counts. It’s better to be prepared than to say no to a call for service, as this can impact your business significantly. Customers who wake up with no heat or cool air in the middle of the night, for instance, would be overjoyed knowing that their HVAC company can be relied on in times of dire need. This is when you become a hero for your customer, who will delightedly tell their friends and family about the company that saved them. You just earned a new customer referral.

This is also an opportune time to offer a Preventive Maintenance Agreement, explaining its importance to the homeowner. It is best to educate the consumers on how routine maintenance can prevent future after-hour service calls.

How will this protocol create value for your company?

With a proper service call protocol in place, your company will benefit in numerous ways.

Having created a standard for responding to service calls, your business will be much more consistent with its response. You will be able to act on service calls in a dependable way, letting you streamline your business with an efficient process. You’ll be able to learn from mistakes that you made with handling service calls in the past and apply this new knowledge to the future. Also, you will find that your employees will have the ability to communicate better since they will know what to expect from each other.

Your customers will also appreciate your protocol. Since your response system will grow better with time, you will be able to react to your customer’s complaints much more efficiently and effectively, leaving a lasting impression in their mind of a company that cares. Instead of thinking “I bought an air conditioner from this company,” your customer will think “I bought an air conditioner from this company and they are making sure that my every need continues to be satisfied.” This new idea of your brand will absolutely grow your business, both with existing and new customers.

Andrea Hughes

Posted In: Management

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