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Thirteen (13) Things NOT to Do on A Service Call! Part 3

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HVAC technician knocking on a customer's door while holding a box of equipment

Over the last few issues, we’ve covered the first seven of 13 things not to do on a service call. Again, these did not stem from theoretical situations; they actually happened on a service call performed by my plumber.  

We’ve covered a variety of issues, from the proper use of drop cloths to listening to customer requests. Now, we’ll go over the final six issues presented during my service call. 

  • Use of a water suction – This was a huge improvement from the last time a plumbing tech from the same company performed a repair on one of our toilets. Last time he asked for a pan to catch the toilet water! This time, the tech had a bucket and a nifty hand suction to suck up the water mess-free. It worked well and did the job. It wasn’t the equipment that was the problem, though, it was the condition of the equipment. The exterior of the bucket, and the suction, looked like they had been used for several years…and were filthy.

Hint #8: All customers take note of how clean the tech equipment and the truck were  when the tech arrived. The final test, though, is how clear the area is when the tech  leaves. Most see a direct relationship, right or wrong, between how clean things are and  the quality of work performed. It may, or may not, be a true assumption, but if you  have not learned it already…perception is truth in the eyes of the customer.

  • Placed tools on ceramic tile floor – All three of our bathrooms have ceramic tile floors.  In case you are unaware, it doesn’t take a very hard impact from something, (like a heavy tool) in order to crack a tile. Having used this plumbing company in the past, we were well aware of how they operate. While hoping for the best, my wife prepared for the worst.  She placed old, full sized, bath towels around the base of each toilet in order to prepare a spot for the tech to place his tools. What we thought was proper preparation turned out to be for naught. The tech simply placed, and often not very gently, his tools directly on the ceramic tile. Each time he “placed” them on the tile I cringed, hoping he did not break one.

Hint #9: Please either place the tool into a bucket, or bag, then onto a clean cloth or towel. Again, it shows respect for the customer’s home.

  • Hung his light on the paper towel roll – Ok, it was a bit dark behind the basement toilet, I get that, and a light was needed. I also suspect this was not the first time he had ever needed a light. He came prepared with a homemade, battery operated, hanging electric light. His light was hanging by what looked like a portion of a coat hanger, although it may have simply been a piece of wire. In either case, the end of the wire he was using to hang the light was sharp. After trying to hang it on the toilet paper holder, with no success, he found a solution. Simply stick the wire directly into the toilet paper roll. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, right? That is exactly what he did. Despite the sharp end not holding in the toilet paper roll the first time, he was not deterred. After several attempts (and therefore several holes in the roll) he got it to stay. This occurred while I was standing right next to him! Needless to say, I had to peel off several layers of toilet paper after he left in order to return the roll to its original, functional state.

Hint #10: Purchase, and bring with you, a light that can be placed on the floor and moved, or angled, to shine on the needed work area.

  • Did not have one of the gaskets that was needed – Now I am admittedly not a plumber. However, it would seem, at least from a layman’s perspective, that one would stock a variety of gasket sizes on the truck. I would suspect our friendly repair man works on toilets nearly every day of the week, but did he have the gasket needed for one of my toilets? No! He excused himself as he travelled back to the shop, or perhaps to Lowe’s, to get one. That inexpensive gasket just cost me, the consumer, $40-$50 in travel time plus the marked-up price of the gasket. Remember, they charge by the hour.

Hint #11: Have an inventory of a variety of gaskets on the service truck. It’s not like gaskets are expensive or take up a lot of room.

  • Cleanup after the tech left – Okay, the job of replacing the inside of all three toilets was now complete. Then it was time for my wife and I to take over. The mud from his shoes had to be swept up, the trash in the waste baskets needed to be thrown away, and the wet towels my wife lovingly placed around the toilets needed to be washed. It only took roughly an hour after he left for things to be back pretty much in order!

Hint #12 – Bring your own towels and/or rags. Clean up after yourself before you leave. Remember, from the customers’ perspective, how clean the area is after the tech leaves is a direct reflection on the quality of work done. It may not be true… but  perception is truth to the homeowner.

  • How much did it cost? – The job was completed, so how much did it cost? I asked the tech how much it was and offered to write a check on the spot. He told me he had no idea how much it was, and then told me the office would bill me, and out the door he went!

Hint #13: Collect on the job before buyer’s remorse sets in. The real suggestion is to charge via flat rate pricing. That way, the customer knows the cost before the work is  done. Also, there would not have been any grumbling by the customer when the tech  needed to go back and get a part. The price would have been set. Best of all, the tech  could have collected right on the spot which would have helped cash flow.

From a functional standpoint, the technician did a great job. Before leaving, he flushed and adjusted each toilet multiple times, and he was very friendly. He was experienced, having worked for the company for over twenty years. Had he received a bit of customer service training, coupled with a few basic systems set up by the company, it would have been a great experience.

By the way, the total bill (which I received a couple weeks later) was a bit over $300. If the company has been on flat rate pricing, the tech could have simply told me up front, “Mr. Grandy, each toilet will be $100.”  I would have been happy with no concerns about his having to go pick up a gasket, and the job would have been completed without my wondering for two weeks how much it was going to cost.

Tom Grandy

Posted In: ACCA Now, Customer Service

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