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Show Up When You Say You Will – Or Else!

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It’s happened to everyone at some point. You cancel any other plans so that a service technician can come to your home. The technician is scheduled to arrive sometime during a four-hour window. The four hours passes and no sign of the technician and no phone call. He may or may not arrive today and you’ve just wasted four hours or more of your time.

“The last thing I, as the customer, want to do is to use one of my few personal days to wait on a heating and cooling guy who never shows or shows up in the middle of family dinner time,” said Jennifer Conner, an administrative assistant and mom to two children ages 3 and 5.

In fact, late or non-showing technicians anger Mrs. Conner so much that she refuses to use that company in the future. Customers don’t always understand the demands of repair work and scheduling and may grow frustrated with delays.

Why Punctuality Is Important
According to a 2006 survey by Proudfoot Consulting, around 15-20% of the US population is consistently late. The same study found that the lateness of CEOs costs companies big, to the tune of $90 billion a year. So, when your technicians are late, is it because of scheduling or because they are chronically late to all aspects of their life?

There’s a lot to be said for punctuality. Not only does it present a professional image, but it tells the customer that his time is valuable to you. However, being late to appointments can become a vicious cycle that is hard to escape. Your technicians want to do a good job for customer # 1 but customer # 2 is waiting for their arrival.

Time Management Tips
There are some time management and scheduling tips that can help as well as communicating better with customers and using windows of time for appointments. While there may be times that a delay is inevitable, you can reduce the number of times you’re late and put practices into place that informs customers of unavoidable delays.

Get Details
Train your customer service team to gather as many details as possible from the customer when she phones for the repair or service. Knowing the scope of what is needed will help her allot enough time for that appointment and not put the HVAC team behind before they start.

For example, furnace cleaning and maintenance should be a pretty straightforward service. However, if the customer is also having an issue where the furnace is not working, that appointment may wind up taking hours more than expected.

Use Scheduling Software
Scheduling software allows your technicians to see the next stop from a smart phone or mobile device, to check in with the progress on the job or to let your office know of any major delays. Train your service team to update the scheduling software regularly, so if a customer phones the point of contact will immediately know where the technician is and when he might be expected at the next home.

There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than waiting for hours, finally phoning for an update and being told they’ll be called back because the office administration needs to phone the technicians for details. How much easier it is to just pull up the details via the software and immediately update the customer.

You can find out about specific scheduling apps and programs in the article Mobile Apps to Help You Run Your Service Business More Efficiently. One particularly useful app for HVAC companies, according to Davis Heating & Cooling, is Setster. GenBook is a similar app that also helps with scheduling and some companies utilize Google Drive to stay on top of what is going on out in the field.

Confirm Appointments
People are incredibly busy these days. It’s easy to make an appointment and then forget all about it. Make it one person’s job on your office staff to pick up the phone the day before and provide a reminder call about an upcoming appointment and ask for confirmation. If the person cannot keep the appointment, it can be rescheduled and the technicians can be assigned elsewhere.

Phone Customers about Delays
There are times when a delay is simply unavoidable. The technician has to go to the warehouse for a part, the repair takes longer than expected, or there is a flat tire on the van. If you’ve taught your technicians to communicate with your office, you can spot these delays and get ahead of them.

Phone the customer and explain that there is a delay and why. Ask if she still wants to keep her appointment for today even though the technicians may be later than expected or if she’d like to reschedule. The customer will appreciate the solid communication even if she is unhappy about the delay. It shows that your company cares about her time.

One good practice to have in place as you schedule appointments is to provide a window for the appointment. Example, “Our technicians will be there between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.” While the plan may be for the technician to arrive at 10 a.m., if the previous job takes a bit longer and he doesn’t arrive until 11:30 a.m., the customer will simply assume that was within the window.

Remember that punctuality shows that you care about your customer’s personal time. Communicate with the customer about any delays and do your best to minimize them and your customers will come back time and time again and give good reports of your work to their family and friends.

Lori Soard

Posted In: Customer Service

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