Are you a homeowner or building manager?
Find a Contractor »

Too Techie = No Checkie

Posted on:

When it comes to repairs or replacements of HVAC and plumbing systems, homeowners often find themselves in a position where they must rely on the expertise of service technicians. However, one common challenge faced by homeowners is the excessive use of technical jargon by these professionals, which can lead to confusion and frustration. This phenomenon is known as the Curse of Knowledge. 

Let’s explore the Curse of Knowledge, its impact on communication, and why service technicians should avoid using too much technical jargon when conversing with homeowners about repairs or replacements. 

The Curse of Knowledge refers to the difficulty of imagining what it is like not to know something once you already know it. This cognitive bias occurs when an individual, who is communicating with others assumes that others have the same knowledge about a certain subject. This bias is also known as the Curse of Expertise. In the case of many service professionals in our space, that is a LOT of knowledge and expertise. I have trained technicians from every state and am constantly amazed at the technical Einsteins in our industry. 

Often because of this knowledge and the way we communicate with teams in normal everyday language around the shop, these same professionals often struggle to put themselves in the shoes of the homeowners and understand their level of knowledge in the field. Some may say that it is a lack of empathy that can lead techs to using technical jargon that homeowners may not comprehend, making it challenging for them to understand the issue at hand to make informed decisions. 

While this may be true, my experience shows that it is because these super techs do not understand why we should not specialize in verbal judo, but in simpler, more precise language that is more customer friendly. Most technicians do show empathy, in fact, most list “helping people” as their favorite aspect of the job. Many technicians are spiffed if the customer does understand and we complete the repair or replacement, so they surely care if the customer understands. 

Here’s where training can be extremely effective! Train your team the “why” behind not using technical jargon, how to use it sparingly if needed, and how to check in with the homeowner to make sure they are comprehending. Remember, most customers do not really want to understand how the equipment works. They simply want to be understood. 

The Impact on Communication

When service technicians use excessive technical jargon, it can create a communication gap between them and homeowners. This gap can lead to various negative consequences, such as: 

  • Customers want to do business with people they like, trust, and know! Lack of trust is a deal killer. Why would the company spend marketing money, have the call center book the call, have dispatch confirm, roll a truck, and then get upset that customers choose not to move forward because the technician broke trust by proving to the homeowner that we know our stuff better than they could understand? Sound familiar in your business? 
  • The Confused Mind says no! When homeowners are unable to understand the technical information given by service technicians, they may struggle to make well-informed decisions. This creates the “we need to think it over” objection. Did I mention that we create our own objections?  
  • Too Techie = No Checkie! Excessive use of technical jargon can leave homeowners feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and dissatisfied with the service experience. This can impact customer loyalty and even lead to negative word-of-mouth referrals. Nobody wins. 

Strategies for Effective Communication

To overcome the Curse of Knowledge and improve communication with homeowners, service technicians can adopt the following strategies: 

  1. Use Layman’s Terms: Instead of using technical jargon, service technicians should explain concepts and issues using simple, everyday language. This allows homeowners to better understand the problem and the proposed solutions. When technicians can effectively communicate the problem and the proposed solution in a clear and understandable manner, homeowners are more likely to trust their expertise and feel confident in their abilities. Do you have a few technicians that just keep it simple? Customers love those types of service professionals and how they communicate.
  •  Pro-Tip: “There’s a part broken; it performs like a battery, and it needs to be replaced. I can take care of it while I’m here.” 
  1. Visual Aids: Incorporating visual aids, such as diagrams or illustrations, can help simplify complex concepts and make them more accessible to homeowners. Nothing better than a good visual to help assure everyone is clear. Visual representations can enhance understanding and facilitate clearer communication. 
  • Pro-Tip: Conduct a training session on how to draw equipment and explain what you are looking at is always beneficial to teach techs. 
  1. Active Listening: Service technicians should actively listen to homeowners and gauge their level of understanding. By asking questions and seeking feedback, technicians can ensure that their explanations are clear and tailored to the homeowner’s knowledge and preferences.
  • Pro-Tip: Listen for the last few words a homeowner uses to explain the problem and then repeat those back in a second or third level question. 
  1. Analogies and Metaphors: Using analogies or metaphors can be a powerful tool for simplifying technical concepts. Comparing complex systems or processes to familiar everyday objects or activities helps homeowners grasp the underlying ideas more easily. Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply you don’t know it well enough.” 
  • Pro-Tip: Analogies about sports, health, and cars are simple to understand. 
  1. Provide Written Information: To reinforce understanding and allow homeowners to review the information at their own pace, service technicians can provide written materials or emails summarizing the problem, proposed solutions, and any other relevant details. 
  • Pro-Tip: Written is real (including typed on a tablet). Showing and telling written solutions is more powerful than just talking about problems and solutions. 

The Curse of Knowledge can hinder effective communication between service technicians and homeowners. To bridge this gap, service technicians must avoid using excessive technical jargon and strive to simplify their explanations. By doing so, they can improve understanding, establish trust, empower homeowners, and enhance overall customer satisfaction. Effective communication not only ensures that homeowners are well-informed about the issues with their HVAC or plumbing systems, but it also fosters positive relationships between service technicians and homeowners. 

By adopting strategies such as using plain language, incorporating visual aids, actively listening, employing analogies and metaphors, and providing written information, service technicians can effectively communicate complex concepts in a way that homeowners can easily understand. This empowers homeowners to make informed decisions and actively participate in the repair or replacement process. 

Furthermore, simplifying communication and avoiding excessive technical jargon helps technicians build trust with homeowners. When homeowners feel that service technicians are genuinely interested in their understanding and well-being, they are more likely to trust their expertise and recommendations. By prioritizing clear and simplified communication, service technicians can enhance customer satisfaction. When homeowners have positive service experiences, they are more likely to be satisfied with the work done, leading to increased customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth referrals. 

Remember, Too Techie = No Checkie! 

Check out the entire January/February 2024 digital issue of ACCA Now here.

Jerry Rollins
Latest posts by Jerry Rollins (see all)

Posted In: ACCA Now, Customer Service, Sales Training, Training

Looking for an ACCA QA Accredited Contractor?

Are you a homeowner or building manager?


join now

PLUS It's Risk Free!