First impressions are important! This is especially true when customers, either existing or potential, call your office to book an appointment. Do you know how these calls are being handled by your CSR (customer service representative) or anyone else in your company who answers the phone?

Their role/job is to HEAR any concerns and to book an appointment; whether it’s for maintenance, demand service, or a sales department lead.

If you don’t regularly listen to how calls are being handled, I recommend that you start. Your existing phone system may already have the capacity to record calls, or you may have to contact an outside company that offers that service.

Single-Source Responsibility

My experience is that you will be appalled at what you hear. Despite any training your CSRs have, the phones need to be monitored and you should provide retraining as necessary. Part of that training should include the latest information on your programs, services, and special offers.

Optimally, every call should be completely managed by the person who picked it up without having to forward it to someone else.

If that is not possible, make sure that person gathers all of the necessary information before transferring the call so the customer doesn’t need to repeat the scenario a second time. If the call cannot be transferred to someone else, it is just as important to pass along the pertinent information.
Several years ago a number of customers called in and asking for a former service technician who had been promoted to another position. He would return their call when he was available, but sometimes it would take him more than a day to do it. Often, the customers wanted to schedule service, which could have been done on the initial call.

I would also recommend that you have a mechanism to track where your calls come from. We use CUC Software that has this capability built in. This enables us to track where leads originate.

This has saved us thousands of dollars by NOT advertising where our target customer is not engaged. This also allows us to better understand the demographic we are looking to serve. It also allows us to track our cost-per-thousand (CPM) stats.

A simple, “May I ask you how you heard of us?” is all that’s necessary. A follow-up may be helpful, “You said that you found us on the internet, may I ask where?”

Re-Examine Processes

Once you ascertain how your customers’ initial calls are being handled, it is time to look at your customer service processes. Think about how, using today’s tech improvements, you can upgrade those processes. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Does the “office paper-flow” need to be altered?
  • Do your technicians have more responsibility in the field (data entry, credit card payment)?
  • What additional training is necessary?
  • Does everyone in the company understand their role and how it impacts other departments? Has all the required information been gathered from the customer to ensure that the requested service will be exemplary? Has that information been communicated to the correct department/employee?

Internal and External Customers

Remember, as an owner/manager you have two sets of customers; the external set and the internal set. Without your internal customer (co-worker) being in the loop, competent, and confident; your external customer will not necessarily have a great experience. If your processes are neither clear nor followed, you have a problem.

Involving your staff to help in the composition of customer policies can be very beneficial. Often staff is more aware of things that could improve customers’ overall experience and satisfaction.

Some of the things we do are just not relevant any longer. Use your employees’ knowledge and experience in the field and create positive changes to outdated processes. This nearly always leads to happier client experiences.

First Impressions Matter

When your customer’s first impression is a professional interaction with someone who is efficient and who cares about their needs, it results in a positive experience. It lays the groundwork for ‘knock-your-socks-off’ service – no matter if it is from the service or the sales department.

If your company’s image is on display – and it is – before the phone rings, what does it portray: professionalism or laissez-faire? Here are several questions to consider:

  • When the customers meet your field service crews, are their trucks clean and organized? Is there garbage on the dash?
  • On your literature and printed/digital information pieces, is your company’s information legible and readable?
  • Are your employees properly uniformed? Are their uniforms clean?
  • Are your trucks parked outside of a beer store/bar or in an appropriate parking location?

Some of these things might seem petty. They all reflect your company’s image and that valuable first impression. It also impacts second and third impressions.

Today’s Customers and Your Business

Today’s customer tends to be more demanding and more knowledgeable than ever before. Loyalty and trust are not as popular as they once were. We need to earn them every day, not only from potential customers; but from existing ones. We know that it costs less to keep a customer than to attract a new one. AND it can all come back to that all-important first impression. How does yours stack up?

MEET NANCY MCKERAGHAN AT NCI SUMMIT 2019

High-Performance HVAC Summit 2019 is happening April 15-18 in Orlando, FL. Nancy McKeraghan is one of five Performance-Based Contractors™ presenting how they bring High-Performance into their companies and their marketplace. She is one of the owners of Canco ClimateCare in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada and will discuss how her company turns High-Performance Leads into sales and service appointments.

Come meet Nancy and network with your peers in Orlando. Learn more about the Summit 2019 program at GoToSummit.com.

Register today. Questions? No problem. Call 800-633-7058 and talk to your customer care representative.

After Summit ends, stick around for our Post Show Training classes. Click ncilink.com/19PST for details.