HVACR Business

AUG 2017

Help hvacr contractors master the critical components of business management.

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14 HVACR BUSINESS AUGUST 2017 www. hvacrbusiness .com FOCUS ON CUSTOMER SERVICE BY TOM MERRIOTT C onsider the current state of cus- tomer service in this industry. e people you task with an- swering your customer calls tend to be the lowest paid, least trained and least respected members of your team — and you wonder why they're not doing great. ink about all the money you current- ly spend to make the phones ring : on bill- boards, truck wraps, websites, internet ads, postcards, magnets, stickers and anything else that contains a phone number for your business. All of that money is spent with the purpose of making your phones ring, and you answer with a "call taker." "Call taker" is in quotes because the phrase implies that a customer service representative's job is easy, so the position doesn't take much thought. Just answer the ringing phone and turn that into an appointment for the technicians. How hard can it be? The First Step to Success Your customer service team watches everyone in the building meet through- out the week. If your customer service representatives (CSRs) never get togeth- er and train, it adds to their feelings of inadequacy. "Be friendly and answer any call as soon as possible," is not a professional call-tak- ing procedure. And, "Sit behind this per- son and watch for a few days; then we'll have you answer some calls," is poor train- ing, at best. ese people, who are hired to do such a critical job in your organizations, deserve better. Excellent, well-thought-out on- boarding and training, regular meetings and ongoing education, are all essential to customer service greatness. Don't mistake meetings with beatings. If you already meet with your customer service team regularly and simply go over everything they're doing wrong, most of your message is lost. Your team heads to those gatherings with a sense of dread. Meetings should be positive and de- signed to produce polished professionals. ese shouldn't be the old, "I'm going to fix this right now" meetings of the past. ere is a time for correction, but it should be done in a professional manner with minimal impact on morale. e old way of thinking produces a negative mindset in your customer ser- vice team. If you're currently delivering that type of so-called training, then please make it stop. Training takes thought. Training takes planning. To properly train, you must first care about the results. When it comes to improving this segment of your business, one of the biggest mistakes is that too few companies have a comprehensive yearly training calendar. e same things keep happening to you year aer year, yet you do little to im- prove your situation. is includes weath- er events, holidays, local challenges, etc. Great training plans take current time of year into account. You should get ready for the next season as soon as the extremes caused by weather slow down. Proper planning in all aspects of these jobs is important and training should be used to sharpen their tools. Best in Class While you're thinking about the de- partment charged with taking care of your customers on the phone, you should de- cide what you want to be. If the answer is something along the lines of, "average and mediocre," then by all means, ignore this entire article. If you'd like your telephonic presence to be best in class, however, then write that phrase down on a piece of paper or on a white board and try to define it. Start with how your company is currently perceived over the phone. Ask your customers, ei- ther through a survey or through direct contact. If people say things like "okay," or "al- right, I guess," then you know you're prob- ably getting the job done, but no one is im- pressed. A best-in-class call center begins the customer relationship and sets your technicians up for success. Your customers deserve greatness. Look at your current team. Are these the great- est people available in your market, or do they have the potential to become great? Don't stop at the individual personnel either. Do you have clear policies, proce- dures, and scripts? Take the reputation you want to have (your best-in-class definition), and apply it to the people currently in the position. Can these folks get you where you want to go? If the answer is a quick "no," that's okay, you simply have some work to do. You know what you want, but you need to figure out what that's going to cost in both time and money. If nothing in your customer service department is written down, then work should begin immediately. Excellent, well-thought-out onboarding and training, regular meetings and ongoing education, are all essential to customer service greatness. Transform your CSRs from simple 'call takers' to best-in-class customer service specialists

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