How To Keep the Customer and Grow Repeat Business
“Common courtesy and genuine concern go a long way”
By Jim D’Amico, President, Coolfront Technologies
It’s tough to make the phone ring. Besides, it costs money. When the phone does ring, you want to be sure you don’t kill your opportunity to service that customer now and in the future. As you know, real money comes with repeat business, so give yourself every opportunity to go back again and again.
Universal customer expectations
There are a few basics customers expect from a service company (such as HVAC, heating & cooling, plumbing, electrical, etc.) before the call is scheduled:
- Answering the phone promptly
- Polite and courteous dialog with internal staff
- A Customer Relations Management (CRM) system in place that allows staff to know the customer information instantly
- Genuine concern for customer needs
- Reasonable lead time for scheduling (emergency or routine)
- Making and keeping service appointments on time
- Communication about service call fees upfront
- Understanding terms for payment
- Understanding warranty
Once the call is scheduled, customer expectations continue:
- Show up on the scheduled day at the appointed time
- If backed up, make a courtesy call to advise of scheduling problems. In “Improving Customer Satisfaction With Good Communication”, Steve Russell, a 35-year veteran in the HVAC industry, dedicated a whole article to this topic.
- A polite, clean-cut service person
- Offer proper identification by way of:
- Lettered service van
- Uniformed personnel
- Picture Identification (preferable)
- Business Card with service person’s name
- Show respect to all residents and pets
- Show respect for customer property
- Explanation of what is needed to repair or replace
- An upfront price for the needed repair(s). In his article, “How to Answer The No. 1 Question your Customers ask”, Paul Bacarro explains how price and emotion are deeply intertwined.
- Having the basic parts to complete the job on the service van
- Having the tools to complete the job
- Clean up after the work is performed
- A discussion about the condition of the equipment serviced
- A review of company warranty for labor and parts
- A legible, detailed work order/invoice
- The ability to pay with a credit card at time of service
After the service call is completed, it’s on the backend of the job that you can really shine. Go above and beyond customer expectations:
- A follow up “happy check” phone call to determine customer satisfaction
- A “thank you” email with a link to your website’s monthly special
- A quarterly email/eNewsletter to keep the customer informed about all of your company’s products and services. Be sure you allow your customer to opt out of future emails or newsletters.
- A follow up call when the season changes to promote your tune ups and maintenance agreements (check state spam laws).
- A thoughtful, tangible gift that says “we appreciate your business and value you as a customer”.
The important takeaway here is that satisfying the customer on a service visit only goes part way to growing repeat business. Your follow up and follow through afterward is what keeps customers coming back. It may take an investment in time and staff, but it’s much cheaper and easier to build a better relationship with an existing customer than to find a new one.
Jim D’Amico is co-founder and President of Coolfront Technologies, and a guest blogger for To Your Success, Inc. Since 1999, Coolfront Technologies has helped residential home service companies operate more profitably and efficiently. Coolfront is a technology partner with To Your Success, and their award winning Coolfront Mobile app provides Flat Rate Pricing and a better way to manage work orders.