Delivering customer service is easy, but compassionate, sincere, and memorable customer service is not. As an HVAC business owner, it’s important to remember that your customers are not just dollars and cents. They are real people with real needs and concerns. That makes it your job to address them in the most empathetic and helpful way possible.
Do you know another reason why excellent customer service matters? Because it always leads to customer loyalty and repeats business.
The King of Sales, Jeffrey Gitomer, says unrivaled customer service is the difference between satisfied buyers and loyal customers.
Sadly, customer service reps across industries have been only somewhat exceptional for quite some time. Residential home service companies like HVAC customer service is no exception. However, it’s essential to recognize the value of excellent customer service skills in this line of work.
Your customers will likely be riddled with questions concerning HVAC installations and repairs. There needs to be more than an HVAC support team to answer common customer service complaints or queries. Instead, customer service processes must pervade all your business touchpoints — all reps, techs, and office staff.
So, how can HVAC companies provide compassionate customer service and build loyalty? Discover the secrets as you read along.
What is Good HVAC Customer Service?
Before we even delve into the tips for delivering compassionate HVAC customer service, what is good customer service?
Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario set in mid-2020.
Imagine a woman calling up the local HVAC company in California. Here’s the situation: her air-conditioning unit is down, and she is COVID-19 positive.
The debate is:
- Do you heed the warning but complete the service call, OR do you resist and decline to do the work?
- Do you let the owner repair it herself with your guidance, OR do you send a tech wearing complete PPE?
- Do you charge a premium for the PPE, extra effort, additional time and risk OR do you charge the same?
Take a few moments and ponder what you did in those situations. Be as brutally honest as you’d like — after all, only you could decide.
Many HVAC customer support people found themselves in a tight spot answering that question. For one, get ready for poor word-of-mouth marketing when people learn you dismissed a customer in her time of need. However, is her genuine inconvenience worth the risk to your techs and your time?
That’s a thinker, huh? However, those who received compassionate HVAC CSR training would say otherwise. These HVAC customer service reps wouldn’t hesitate for a second to help the troubled customer.
Why? Because that’s what compassionate customer service means.
This is what I believe in:
- HVAC and other residential home services are essential services. This means that they are a class of occupations legislated by the government to perform their duties amidst the pandemic. Therefore, it is an HVAC’s duty to bravely, courageously, and selflessly serve others, no matter what. If you want a risk-free job, sell ice cream.
- Everyone within the company has their respective set of roles and responsibilities. Generals don’t go into battle, but they send the mightiest of their ranks to face the perils of war. In this scenario, send your bomb squad. Inform them of the situation and arm them with the right equipment to help them carry out the mission effectively.
- Taking advantage of vulnerable people makes you an asshole. You taint perceptual reality when you charge a premium because of her unfortunate situation. As a result, the defenseless customer who openly disclosed her state would not sense excellent customer service from you. Remember, the customer is always right; in this case, her perceptual reality is all that matters.
Good HVAC customer service goes beyond just ensuring that a heating or cooling unit is functioning correctly. Compassionate HVAC customer service doesn’t ask your team to be good storytellers — you just have to be human:
- Listening carefully to the needs and concerns of your customers and responding with empathy
- Being mindful of the vulnerability of individuals who may require emergency services during challenging times
- Charging fairly and not taking advantage of the situation
- Always acting with integrity, honesty, and transparency
The key here is this: fulfill the distress call and charge what the job is worth. As an essential service provider, don’t charge a premium for the extra time, effort and PPE it costs. That’s compassion.
“Business decisions devoid of compassion are psychopathic.
Compassion is the superpower of small business.”
— Ryan Chute.
Remember always to help people in a trustworthy and grateful manner. By delivering compassionate customer service, your customers will feel valued. More importantly, you slowly build the foundation toward customer loyalty.
Wizard of Sales® is committed to helping residential home services develop a culture of compassion in all their business touchpoints. If your HVAC customer service needs some sprucing in the compassion department, we can help. Book a call.
What Customers Say About The Current State of Customer Service?
Let’s get one thing straight. We will only preach about the need for compassionate customer service if it’s already practiced across industries. However, that’s not the case. The current state of customer service is in disarray and needs revitalization.
In the residential home services industry, specifically HVAC, customer service is often overlooked or considered an afterthought. It’s a shame because happy and satisfied customers are your devout followers and repeat clients. They also take the mantle of your business advocates through word-of-mouth marketing.
Providing compassionate customer service in the HVAC business goes beyond the hiring process. You can use all the assessment tools in the world and still fail to deduce a rep’s actual performance. There are five specially crafted tips to infuse your customer service with compassion.
But before we delve into those, let’s first look at customer service statistics relevant to HVAC customer service.
Did you know that 35% of customers end up angry after talking to customer service representatives? That’s according to American Express. While a customer service call indicates a pain point on behalf of the customer, your goal is to soothe that. Sadly, three times out of 10, customers end the conversation feeling more frustrated than before.
This hitch in the customer service experience ultimately taints a customer’s perceptual reality of a business. Zendesk suggests that 60 percent of customer frustration can be attributed to the long holds and wait times during the call. Moreover, Statista reports that ‘ineffective service’ and ‘lack of speed’ is the frustration of 27 percent and 12 percent of Americans, respectively.
When asked by Dimensional Research, 72 percent of customers say that explaining their situation to different people is poor customer service. That’s why Wizard of Sales® believes that compassion and customer service training should not only be intended for your reps. Every business touchpoint must have HVAC CSR training to deal with customers’ problems.
Those are not the worst of it. Perhaps the most dreaded customer service statistics are the ones reported by Harvard Business Review and American Express.
Harvard Business Review’s study found that customer service reps still meet 84 percent of customer expectations. That means customer support remains mediocre to most people, which is trouble for your customer loyalty endeavors. American Express also reports that 78 percent of customers gave up on transactions because of poor customer service experience. In other words, say goodbye to sales if you need to improve your customer service game.
5 Tips to Deliver Compassion to Your HVAC Customers and Build Loyalty
The statistics above point to one thing: compassion is becoming increasingly important in today’s customer service.
With compassion comes speed, effectiveness, and efficiency — which can be grossly lacking in customer service. Having these attributes at your disposal helps give your market the best customer service experience. That’s how to get HVAC customers to provide positive reviews about your business. More importantly, it builds loyalty, repeat business and word-of-mouth marketing.
With that said, here are five tips for delivering compassion in your HVAC customer support.
Be the Guide to Your Customer
It all begins with perspective. Do you remember how your nursery teacher walked you through learning as a kid? Nobody had any academic foundation at age three. But teachers diligently taught and patiently endured to address their students’ complaints and confusion.
Now, do you want to treat HVAC customers like children? No. Am I telling you to dumb down your explanations and conversations with them? Hardly not.
You should be patient when dealing with customers. View them as if they need 100 percent guidance to nip their problems in the bud. Changing your perspective allows you to dissect and thoroughly address their concerns.
Customers may not have prior knowledge about their HVAC unit and its maintenance. As the expert, explain to them in simple terms what the issue is and how it can be resolved. Doing so addresses the problem and helps them become better informed about their equipment needs in the future.
It’s all about listening and understanding with empathy. Rather than simply hearing out a frustrated customer, show empathy by actively listening to their concerns and validating their feelings. After which, transform their frustration by guiding them through the necessary steps.
Avoid Forbidden Phrases
Don’t you hate hearing certain words, especially when they’re said to you? No, I don’t mean curse words or anything inherently offensive. I mean naturally harmless words, but you feel repulsive when spoken to you. Customer service is known to be aggressively rampant in these words, and Jeffrey Gitomer calls it ‘forbidden phrases.’
These phrases give off a negative impression that rubs off anyone who hears them. It may show that your HVAC business is uncooperative or unwilling to go above and beyond for the customer.
Examples of these phrases are:
- “It’s not my job.”
- “I don’t know.”
- “It’s company policy.”
- “Let me transfer you to someone who handles that“
- “You should have done…. “
- “What seems to be the problem? “
So what can you do instead? Gitomer suggests using empathetic language and replacing these forbidden phrases to be in your customers’ good graces. Examples of human language include:
- “Let me find out for you.”
- “I’ll check on that and get back to you as soon as possible.”
- “how can I be of service?”
- “I apologize. This concern seems to be beyond my area of expertise. Please give me five minutes to forward your query to the right personnel, and I’ll call you back.”
These showcase your willingness to assist customers and find a solution rather than brushing them off with a dismissive attitude. Additionally, ensure your employees receive proper training in addressing customer concerns and handling difficult situations. Customer service should never be an afterthought in any industry, especially in residential home services.
Add More Human Touch
Your customers are not just numbers on a spreadsheet — they are human beings with wants and needs. You can’t just dismiss a call when you don’t feel like it simply because you’re hiding behind a computer. Doing such only compromises your company and hurts your business in the long run.
Customers hate faceless corporations. For this reason, adding a touch of humanity to your communications vastly improves your chances of doing right by them. Show empathy and understanding in your customer interactions, especially during difficult situations. This will go a long way in building trust and loyalty with your clients.
If this is already implemented in your system, one way to improve it is by implementing a customer feedback system.
It’s crucial to consistently gather feedback from your clients in your quest to master HVAC customer support. Whether online surveys or follow-up calls, listen to your customers’ thoughts and address any of their issues. This allows you to improve any areas of weakness and continue providing exceptional service.
Respect Your HVAC Customers’ Time
One of the biggest complaints in any industry is a lack of respect for customers’ time. You disrespect their time whenever you fail to show up on time for appointments or return phone calls late. Even if you don’t mean to, that’s how your customer’s perceptual reality looks.
A lack of respect for your customers’ time can be a deal-breaker for many. This is especially true for customer service. Those 30 minutes of holding the line could have been dedicated to things that make them happy. Instead, they spend it aimlessly waiting for a call that may never come.
To this end, you must streamline your call processes to eliminate hitches and facilitate smoother response times. Ensure that your scheduling system accounts for travel time and allows enough wiggle room to accommodate potential delays. And if something comes up, communicate with the customer as soon as possible to work out a solution.
Go Above and Beyond Expectations
Ultimately, the goal is to provide a service that exceeds your client’s expectations. A straightforward method to always leverage your incredible output is to under-promise and over-deliver. This can involve offering additional resources or solutions on top of fixing or installing their HVAC issue. Taking the extra step for customers leaves a positive impression and makes them more likely to recommend your business.
Going above and beyond sets your business 600 ft. above the Sea of Sameness. You become the game-changing compassionate business that’s unlike any other when taking care of customers.
Don’t underestimate the power of compassionate customer service in the HVAC industry. Displaying empathy and consistently striving for improvement will set you apart from the competition and make your business thrive.
As a business owner, you are at the helm of your company, which means you should lead it where it should go, right? But sometimes, the body does things the mind doesn’t want to. This is where training the body comes in. Begin conditioning the body (your team) before the reason can seamlessly control where it moves.
Having studied thousands of companies in the past five years, how we treat customers begins internally. We must first work and strengthen our company’s culture before extending the world-class experience to our customers. Over the years, I have identified the 3 CORE principles that build a company’s culture. When you establish a HAPPY, HEALTHY and WEALTHY culture, your employees will reflect the same treatment toward your business customers.
The tips above are given under the presumption that your company’s culture is at its peak best. The point is that the cultural transformation should begin within your company and trickle down to your customers. Otherwise, you are forcing employees to improve customer service when they can’t even alleviate themselves from poor company culture. If there’s one thing I learned, you can’t just shout out what you think to employees and hope it works.
A strong culture influences intent, and employees will only participate when they see the more profound value of customer service. That said, I hope the above tips help you develop compassion in your customer service. We’ve got you if you ever need support in protecting and defending a happy, healthy, wealthy culture.
Book a call, and together, let’s build customer loyalty through compassionate customer service.