It’s April and that means it’s time for the Spring service season to begin. As customers call to make appointments, how you treat them makes all the difference in their relationship with your company.

Are they greeted by a live person or by a recording followed by a list of menu items?

The latter is usually part of an automated customer support system. Depending on how you set up these systems, they can either streamline your business or they can frustrate customers. Or both.

For example, I recently had an issue with an airline that arbitrarily changed my flights. So I called their customer service line and met their automated “attendant.” The options were for everything except what I wanted — to speak with a living, breathing human being.

Even after I figured out how to get past the robo gatekeeper, I was then put on hold for 45 minutes.

Robo gatekeepers don't always support your customers, leaving them frustrated.
Robo gatekeepers can frustrate and even alienate your customers if implemented improperly.

This adds up to what I call a failure to consider the customer. Automated customer support systems that are difficult to navigate are neither customer-focused or relationship-oriented.

Customer Support and Automation Don’t Always Go Hand-in-Hand

From a professional standpoint, I understand the need to streamline and control call intake. Many contracting companies today use some kind of automated customer support and answering system.

While automated answering frees a business owner from taking calls at all hours, it lacks the personalized touch that customers get when talking with a live person.

Furthermore, studies show that consumers expect personalized customer service in exchange for their loyalty to a product or service. Check out this article from 2018 that is still pertinent today: It predicted that customer service would replace price as a key differentiator by 2020. Too bad the airlines missed that message.

The above-mentioned article cites other studies that show customers are willing to pay a higher price when they are loyal to a brand or product. Even the Harvard Business Review did a study that showed companies that increase customer loyalty by just 5% can increase profits by at least 25%!

Doesn’t that make personalized customer service more important than ever?

Always Put the Customer First

If customer service and building relationships/loyalty are your priorities as a High-Performance HVAC contractor, consider how you communicate with customers when they call. Also consider customers feel when directed to the wrong person or department. Finally, think about measuring the on-hold wait time your average customer must endure. Are you making it easy or frustrating for them?

When it comes to automated customer answering and support systems, the key is to implement them properly. Also, they should makes it easy for customers to get to a “live” person.

Even if you do have a live person answering your phones, how do they answer? Do they smile and say something like, “It’s a great day here at XYZ Comfort Systems. How can I help you?”

Or are they chewing gum and saying, “Yeah, you reached XYZ Comfort Systems.”

When I encounter the former, I feel like I will have my concerns or questions addressed immediately, properly, and in a friendly way.

On those occasions when I encounter the latter, my blood pressure begins to climb. I anticipate NOT getting the customer service I deserve.

When it comes to service, successful companies put customers before automation.