A Tale of Two HVAC Repair Experiences — Part 2

This article was originally published on the FCR blog on January 22, 2018. Click here to read the original.

In part one of this series I spent a great deal of time griping about my experience with the first HVAC company I enlisted to fix my ailing heater. Still cold and feeling slightly wronged, I griped/asked folks around the office for recommendations. The consensus choice was Comfort Flow Heating. As you may have guessed, this article is going to be a lesson in everything they did right from a customer experience standpoint. Let’s observe and learn, shall we?

1. Pricing shouldn’t be hard to figure out. Be upfront with your customers.

When I called Comfort Flow to inquire about their services, the lady I spoke with got my necessary details and then informed me of how much the visit would cost. That was a bit of a surprise because the other company never mentioned any fees for a visit. She assured me that this was the standard for HVAC companies, and sure enough, the other company ended up surprising me with a fee later on.

Lesson: Money is never fun to talk about, but surprising customers with fees they didn’t know about is even less fun — for everyone. Be upfront with your customers.

2. Show up on time and offer a friendly greeting.

In contrast with the other company, Comfort Flow called when they were on their way and arrived on time. When the technician, Anthony arrived at the front door, he smiled and led off with something like, “So, I hear someone’s heater isn’t working.” Clearly Anthony wasn’t afraid to let his personality shine through and immediately set the tone for the rest of our interaction.

Lesson: A smile and a friendly greeting sets the tone for the rest of the interaction with the customer. Be sure and get this right and let some of your unique personality shine through.

3. Show extreme care for the customer.

I’m a huge fan of the little things that great companies do. In this case, I noticed that Anthony had put disposable shoe covers on his feet before walking on our carpet. In a house with three boys this step probably wasn’t necessary, but the extra care and concern was noticed and appreciated. It certainly beat the alternative of grease and mud stains on the carpet.

Lesson: While customers may not always notice, little extra measures to show you truly care for them makes a difference — and they differentiate you from your competition.

4. Put a stopgap measure in place to get the customer up and running again as soon as possible.

After some investigation, Anthony had the same basic recommendations on what to fix as the previous guy, but his approach was slightly different. Instead of telling me what was broken, Anthony first put a stopgap measure in place to get our system working in the meantime. Apparently our heat pump was set to switch over to the furnace when the outside temperature dipped below 40 degrees. The switch mechanism is what was broken so on the coldest days the furnace wouldn’t run. Clearly Anthony also did a better job of explaining what was wrong.

He adjusted the temperature threshold to 15 degrees so the heat pump would continue to heat our house. I questioned him to make sure there weren’t any consequences to this adjustment and he assured me there weren’t. This stopgap measure didn’t cost anything extra, bought us some time to budget for the larger repair, and allowed Comfort Flow time to order the necessary parts.

Lesson: Remember that in urgent situations customers don’t always need the optimal solution. They just need A solution. A stopgap measure to get them up and running again quickly allows them to prepare and plan for the more complete solution.

5. Use technology to your advantage.

Remember in my previous post how I had to get a piece of paper and a calculator to figure out what the repairs would cost? Not so with Comfort Flow. Anthony came prepared with a tablet where he quickly itemized the repairs, took my payment, and emailed me a receipt. I took him up on his offer to defer maintenance to get my budget in order so the ability to later recall that email was extremely convenient.

Lesson: Use technology to your advantage when serving customers. Systems like Invoice2Go make it easy to electronically send invoices to customers.

6. It’s OK to sell additional services.

It’s important to note that Comfort Flow isn’t necessarily the least expensive option. I might have saved money going with the other company, thought that’s debatable. Comfort Flow has instead chosen to offer a premium level of service with competitive pricing and is consistently delivering on that.

When Anthony invoiced me, he offered 10% off all repairs if I signed up for a service plan where they’d come twice a year to clean and maintain the system. The discount actually paid for the maintenance plan making it a no brainer. Knowing the cost of a new HVAC system, I’ll likely continue with the service plan to extend the life of my system.

Lesson: Sometimes upselling a premium service makes sense and even benefits the customer. Don’t withhold that from them and don’t assume they necessarily know what’s best. You’re the expert!

Hiring an HVAC company didn’t end up being as easy as I thought it would be but thankfully I got it right the second time. In comparing the level of service offered by the two companies, it’s clear that Comfort Flow did what it took to gain a loyal customer. Not only did they earn positive word of mouth from me, but they also got me to happily sign up for a bi-annual service plan. Great customer experiences are so fun to share with others, aren’t they?

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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