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Thirteen (13) Things NOT to Do on a HVAC Service Call — Part 1

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HVAC technician knocking on customer's front door while holding tool box

Over my relatively long life, I have learned a few things. Some things were learned by reading, or through training, while many others were learned via life experiences. However, looking back, it seems like many of the real-life lessons were acquired by watching other individuals do things the wrong way. This was one of those situations.   

Do you ever get that feeling of impending doom? My wife and I get that feeling every time there is a need for a plumbing repair. Yes, all the technical parts of the needed repairs are normally outstanding and are performed by technicians with lots of experience. It’s the customer service side that we dread. It was a relatively simple job; we wanted the inside of our three toilets replaced. The call was made, service was scheduled, and the tech showed up on time.   

Like most home repairs we have had performed, I stayed with the tech throughout the job for several reasons. First, I like the accountability side. Watching the tech work lets them know that I am concerned and want to be sure no time is wasted. If a question should arise, I am there to answer it. Yes, it can make the tech a bit nervous, but hey, I am the customer, so I am always right, correct? This is a bit more important with our plumber since they will not switch to flat rate pricing, (I have had numerous conversations with the owner, but so far, he won’t budge) so we are charged for time and material. Every minute spent on the job costs me money, even travel and picking up parts. Secondly, I like to learn. Sometimes I can watch the repair and perhaps fix it myself if the same issue was to occur in the future. However, the main reason I watch is to gain material for one of these articles. There is always something that takes place, good or bad, that provides great content for a story, and this repair did not disappoint. I am about to share with you a real-life situation that occurred during this service call…with me watching. Read and learn what NOT to do on your next service call. 

We were the first call of the day, and the Customer Service Representative called to tell us that the tech was on the way. That part was good, except for my internal grumbling at having to pay for his travel time from the shop, roughly 30 minutes away, to my house. To keep from rambling too much, the problems I experienced will simply be listed as bullet points below: 

  • Blocked the driveway – When I heard the knock at the door, I glanced at the driveway.  You guessed it; the tech’s van was parked right in the middle. Now, that would normally not be a big deal, unless my wife, who always parks her car in the garage, wanted to go somewhere. The good news was that her car was not in the garage. The bad news was that she had already left to run an errand. Yes, you are correct, she returned to the house, during the repair, and was forced to park on the street, and she was not a happy camper! 

Hint #1: Either park the truck on the street, or request permission to park in the driveway. Blocking the                driveway irritates the customer. 

  • He wanted to use the front door – My wife keeps an exceptionally clean house.  Entering through the front door would cause the tech to walk on the carpets, which then would generally require vacuuming after the tech left our home (we will cover cleanup later). However, if he entered through the garage, he would be walking on tile floor, which would be much easier to clean, if necessary, and of course, it was. My wife suggested we open the garage door so perhaps when he arrived, he would notice and come in that way. Sure enough, he knocked on the garage door. Victory! Well sort of. It wasn’t long before he requested to use the front door as it was a bit closer to his truck, which you will remember was parked in the middle of our driveway. I was polite and simply suggested he use the garage entrance. I didn’t even fuss at him for the request, at least not on the outside.   

Hint #2: If it’s not obvious which door to come in and out of, then ask the homeowner what their preference is.   

  • No drop cloth – He apparently failed Tech Customer Service Training 101. He did not bring in a drop cloth to wipe his shoes during his numerous trips back and forth to the truck. I am not sure which was worse, him not using a drop cloth at all or the one our HVAC technician choose to use. When he arrived for the call, he brought a drop cloth still filthy from the last job. After entering our home, he routinely flipped it out on the floor, causing the last customer’s dirt to head straight for my wife’s clean floor! She was not a happy camper, and neither was I.  

Hint #3: Bring “clean” drop cloths and use them. When this is done, the first lesson in Customer Service 101 will have been accomplished. 

  • No Shoe covers – Yes, I understand that some jobs are performed in less than clean conditions. Mud gets left on shoes and grass gets picked up from the yard (when the tech walks in the grass rather than walking on the sidewalk or driveway). The industry has found a solution for that, and they are called shoe covers! My tech apparently did not attend that class either. Over nearly two hours of walking upstairs to one bathroom, back and forth to the main level bath and then downstairs to the basement bathroom, he wore no shoe covers. It wasn’t hard to track where he had been, all we had to do was follow the mud on the floor and carpet. 

Hint #4: Wear shoe covers, and in turn show respect for the customer’s home. The covers are not expensive home and will give the customer some reassurance that you respect their space. 

Stay tuned for next month’s edition, where we will cover the remaining nine (9) customer-irritating situations that occurred during the call in Part 2 of this article.   


Tom Grandy

Posted In: ACCA Now, Customer Service

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