You’re Driving Your Customers Crazy!


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What Most Contractors Do That Drive Their Customers Crazy 

 

Ever wonder why the most irritated people always call you? Actually, it could have less to do with you than it does with the kind of contracting business you’re in. (Plus, there’s actually good news in the call which we’ll cover in a moment.)  

Let’s be clear: Contractors get irritated callers because that person is typically: a) very hot or b) very cold. Usually, an untimely breakdown has happened in their HVAC world, and the caller’s panic button has been pushed. 

From this point, the service you provide can either soothe – or increase – these feelings of panic and irritation.  A better understanding of common complaints can help you both.   

But more bad news first… 

Human nature reveals that a customer whose standard expectation was “achieved” gives zero word-of-mouth. (Keep this in mind when you’re trying to merely ‘satisfy’ the customer or only provide service comparable to the average. It’s getting you nowhere.)  

Those who “exceed” expectations are generally mentioned 4-7 times in 30 days. (It falls off dramatically after that, which is why you should stay in touch beyond the 30 day mark.) This can create a separate stream of positive referrals.  

Make it easy for you to stay in touch. Capture their email address and have them like your business on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media platforms. But remember, no one likes to be constantly spammed or to see their contractor’s swimsuit pictures on their Newsfeed. So keep the content professional and timely.  

Send them follow-ups or reminders through email and post useful home care, how to’s or health tips on your social sites. Keep selling to a minimum; these are strictly to inform and entertain the homeowners. 

Just imagine the damage of not keeping in touch could silently be causing you every month. Forget imagination: If you commit any of the items on this list, it is costing you.  

You’d be wise to know the top reasons customers do not like or recommend contractors to others. Any reduction or elimination of the following can add thousands of dollars and hundreds of customers to your company, usually for little or no money.  

 Not scheduling the appointment fast enough – Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Maybe their living room has recently turned into an igloo, and they call only to hear you might get there a week from Tuesday.  The fact is that if you can’t provide quick relief, your customer will find it elsewhere. Sorry, nature of the business.  

I realize you may have scheduling issues in a busy season.  But you must educate customers and offer assurance on what you can do to alleviate their problem.  (A CSR training course can work wonders.) Give a specific time, and keep it.  

Powerful TechniqueContractor clients have gotten great results with “emergency solutions” that lock in the customer. From the earlier example, you’d leave behind a company-logoed space heater, resolving the immediate issue. This buys you time to assess and resolve more permanently. But you may not get to solve anyone’s problem if you commit this next error… 

 Not showing up on time or at all – Chances are, you’ve got a customer who left work to sit in his uncomfortable home and wait for you. The longer he waits past the appointment window, the more irritated he gets. And since techs aren’t often trained in social graces, you’ve got a recipe for a negative relationship from the start. (Note I didn’t say “job;” I said “relationship,” a powerful distinction.) And if you don’t show up at all, this “ex” customer will likely be in strangulation mode if they call again. No matter, his friends and neighbors will get all the updates they can stand. Three options: Either keep the appointment, keep them informed or lose the customer.  

Powerful TechniqueThe confirmation call. It takes about two minutes to confirm the appointment and/or reschedule if running behind. No one expects you to be 100% punctual, but this is a dramatic improvement beyond the currently low expectations. If the appointment window will be more than one hour delayed, give the customer the option to reschedule. This brings to mind another no-no… 

 Not finishing on time – Your customer perceives that slowness or dawdling is costing him in money  a non-issue with flat-rate  but it still reeks of inefficiency.  I recommend abbreviated rapport-building, get to your work, get it done. Then go over the invoice, offer options and upsells to maximize your and the customer’s time. Customers want the problem solved and – at that moment – are most receptive to avoiding the problem in the future. One option where most contractors lack aggressiveness… 

Powerful Technique: Maintenance Agreement programs are very attractive if packaged as time and money-savers. This is the No. 1 upsell (takes 2-6 sentences to close) and can guarantee future sales, referrals, faster sales cycles and better relationships.  

Yet, this option will likely go poorly if you’re clumsy or are perceived as… 

Not cleaning up – If you fix the problem, but track mud into the home, you’ve created another problem. Ideally, when you leave, your customer won’t even be able to tell that you were there – except for having fixed the problem.  Cleaning the equipment and the surrounding work area is an essential part of good service.  Besides, telling your customer the importance of keeping the equipment clean is an open door to discussing the importance of regular service and maintenance agreements. (Another opportunity that many waste.)  

Powerful TechniqueSeveral here: 1) Shoe covers. 2) Branded materials. 3) The old part goes in a plastic bag to show the customer. 4) Cleaning the exterior of the unit. 5) Equipment gets company tags and stickers 6) “Emergency Call” magnet for the fridge. Basically, a “neatness package.”  

All the above are just as fixable as any HVAC problem. Make your entire staff memorize the following: “Don’t just fix the problem, fix the customer.” This is where most contractors create a poor perception that you can trounce.  

And finally, there’s one “complaint” that didn’t make the list, though touches the entire list: Be a professional.  

Sure, you’ve heard that eleven thousand times, so add mine to the stack. Contractors have a very “unprofessional” image. This means that everything from your marketing materials, to your CSR’s greeting and demeanor, to your tech’s onsite manners and even follow-up marketing (or complete lack of it!) can differentiate you from that perception.  

Remember, your customers are calling you because they’ve got a problem. Your job is to solve those problems – not add to them.  Fix the system and the customer in order to become the contractor who gains customers from those who didn’t read this article! Have fun in your business.  

Adams Hudson
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