Customer service tips are a dime a dozen, but the successful execution of those tips is worth so much more.
Customer service is one area of your business that can make or break retention and referral opportunities in plumbing and HVAC sales. Deliver the best customer experience anyone has received from an HVAC or plumbing contractor, and you’ve got a loyal, repeat customer who may recommend you to friends. Provide subpar service -- or even just the minimum expected -- and you’ve done nothing to differentiate yourself from the competition.
While we all know customer service is important, the definition of good customer experiences can sometimes be a little fuzzy. We’ve put together a list of tips to help contractors cover all the bases when it comes to the customer service game.
10 Customer Service Tips for Plumbers and HVAC Contractors
Below we’ve categorized our X tips into Y foundational categories. Why? Because today’s customers expect service to be part of the entire experience: not just how your employees interact with them.
Tips for Leaders
1. Hire service-oriented people
When you put together your next job posting, look at the skills you’ve listed as requirements. Of course, you want people with knowledge and training to perform the job function. However, those skills alone aren’t enough when you want to win the customer service game.
Write your job description so that there is also an emphasis on soft skills like communication, emotional intelligence, and some of the other skills we’ll be describing in this post.
2. Offer onboarding and training to team members
Whether you’ve hired the most seasoned professional or a young adult starting his or her first job, you should ensure you’re onboarding process helps newcomers to your business start things off on the right foot.
Train them on how to use any field service management software and apps that you use. Ensure that they understand how to position HVAC service agreements and extended warranty programs you offer. Train your office staff on using productivity software, the phone system, and other solutions. A well-trained staff who understands what’s expected will deliver better service.
Tips for Techs
3. Show up on time for customer appointments
You and your team members may not be able to give customers a specific time that you’ll show up, but you should make every effort to show up in the window of time you gave the customer when they booked the appointment.
If this is your first service call with a new customer, your response time and arrival go a long way in making a positive first impression.
4. Be prepared and look professional
You can improve your chances of customer satisfaction when you show up prepared and professional. Ensure you’ve got all the tools you need when you show up for the job and dress neatly in your company shirt or uniform. Preparation and professionalism count.
5. Deliver accurate estimates and detailed invoices
When customers need plumbing services or HVAC repair, they often want to have an idea of what the work is going to cost before you start the job. A detailed and accurate estimate helps set expectations before you start the job. A detailed invoice helps the customer understand exactly what services were performed and the costs for labor and parts. Don’t let the great work you’re doing get overshadowed by invoicing and estimate confusion and questions.
Tips for the Entire Staff
6. Be friendly and respectful
This tip seems like so much of a “no-brainer” that many of us forget how important it is. People appreciate working with a friendly individual who is patient and well-mannered. You don’t have to be Mr. Rogers-level friendly, and your manners don’t have to be so formal that you’re ready for high tea with the Queen. You just need to treat people well and use positive language.
Smile and say, “hello” when you arrive. Say, “thank you” when appropriate. Remember the nice things your parents already taught you. They count in business, too.
7. Hone your communication skills
One sure way to improve your customer service delivery is to work on your communication skills. Whether it’s your support reps taking calls or your techs in the field, everyone needs to learn how to listen to and respond to customer concerns.
Active listening requires more than just hearing what a customer tells you. You need to be able to hear the issue a customer describes and respond by asking the right follow up questions or giving the correct information on the next steps.
8. Ask for customer feedback
Techs and customer support teams should ask for customer feedback from both happy and unhappy customers. By studying both the good and the bad responses, you can formulate product or service delivery improvements that will help you create long term, loyal customers.
9. Leverage technology
Believe it or not, technology can be just as important to customer service as the people who work for you. Why? Because it can make life easier for your techs and customer service team.
- Field service management software helps techs with a variety of functions -- creating estimates, invoicing, communicating about appointments.
- Email marketing software helps your company communicate with existing customers throughout the year.
- Social media management tools help you listen for and field questions that people ask while on Twitter, Facebook, or other platforms.
10. Stay in touch with valuable tips and information
Many of the times when people call your business, they are facing something unpleasant: an air conditioner or heating emergency, a plumbing predicament. By staying in touch between service calls, you’ll be top of mind when a crisis strikes. Build trust and positive connections by sending routine emails to your customers. Offer seasonal tips. Send warranty reminders. Be there offering value before they need you again.
JB Warranties’ Commitment to Customer Service
Delivering superior customer service is a must for every business, including ours. JB Warranties stands behind the motto, "The Nation's Leading Provider of Extended Warranties in the HVAC Industry." Not only is JBW honored to represent the best Extended Warranty Program in the Nation, but we also hold the top spot for best customer satisfaction. Our Customer Service Department is the front line for keeping us up to par with high expectations from our customers. We treat our contractors and partners with kindness, respect, and promptness.
What’s your customer service promise or motto? Let us know! Share it in the comments below.