Why Smart Service Always Starts with Customer Service

Customer service is vital to the success of a business. Customers who are displeased with how they were treated or the service they received may decide not to do business with you again, and they may even give friends, family, or the entire online community a negative review about the company you represent. If you’re an HVAC company, ensuring that your customers’ experience with your installation, maintenance, or repair is a success starts with communicating effectively. This is especially the case when customers are dealing with the sweltering heat or freezing cold of a broken HVAC system.

Advance Air & Heat, Inc.Energy Savings - Heating Maintenance During the heating season, if your HVAC economizer malfunctions or your sensors are out of calibration, your equipment could be drawing cold outside air into your building. The additional cost to heat this cold air could be up to $1,400 per year for each malfunctioning unit. A routine check of the economizer and sensors during a maintenance visit takes only a few minutes, but could make a big difference to your bottom line. An unmaintained boiler, with as little as 1/16" of soot buildup can increase fuel consumption by 2-8%. If it also has scale buildup (caused by naturally-present minerals in boiler water) fuel consumption may increase by an additional 2-5%. The more build-up, the less efficient the boiler will be. Average boiler maintenance costs are about $850/year for oil and $450 for gas boilers. When deciding whether or not to maintain your heating system, consider the additional costs to your fuel bills. Also consider the impact of an after-hours heat failure in the middle of a cold snap. It doesn't take long for pipes to freeze during our frigid New England winters and the cost to repair and clean up after burst heating pipes is high.Communication Is Key to Customer Service

An essential skill in any industry, communication is especially important in the field of HVAC. In fact, The Refrigeration School lists communication as one of the top ten skills HVAC technicians should have. Whether determining which type of system is best for a customer or why a unit isn’t working properly, an HVAC technician must attentively listen to the customer and ask and answer questions. This is especially important since many customers don’t necessarily have an in-depth understanding of the mechanics or terminology of HVAC systems. They may not explain problems in terms a technician would immediately associate with their HVAC systems, so the HVAC technician may have to ask a series of questions before identifying the problem. He or she may also have to explain the problem in a non-technical manner so that the customer understands why repairs are necessary.

HVAC technicians can improve their communication skills by focusing on active listening. Impact Learning Systems states that active listening entails focusing on the customer, listening for essential information, listening for feelings, and clarifying for understanding. Active listening can help technicians pinpoint the problem while meeting customers’ service expectations.

Strong in-person communication skills should translate well online, as customers these days often reach out to companies via e-mail and social media. HVAC technicians need not only strong written communication skills for this but also time management; just as they wouldn’t ignore a customer standing in front of them, they should not make customers utilizing online platforms wait an inordinate length of time for a response, asserts Social Times. Moreover, addressing customer complaints online requires tact because an audience is observing the interaction—and handling the situation poorly could hurt the reputation of your company.

The Cost of Poor Customer Service

Providing a bad experience to customers can cause businesses to lose money. Salesforce Desk reports that bad customer service costs the U.S. $84 billion a year. In this report, two complaints customers frequently made were rooted in communication: 75 percent of customers reported that they thought it can take too long to reach a live person, and 50 percent indicated that customer service agents failed to answer their questions. Overall, bad service caused 78 percent of customers to end a business relationship and 61 percent to switch to a competitor. Bad service was defined as automated self-service, long wait times, poor attention, and inexperienced agents.

Benefits of Good Customer Service

Given that the components of most HVAC systems require regular maintenance to work efficiently throughout their lifetimes, which CNN indicates is usually about 15 to 25 years, HVAC companies have the potential to form lasting business relationships with their customers—if they keep them happy. Good service means a lot to customers, with 9 out of 10 saying they would pay more for a great customer experience. What is good service? It’s personalizing your customers’ experience, responding promptly to their concerns, answering their questions competently, and making the interaction as convenient as possible.

In the field of HVAC, technicians oftentimes must interact with customers who are already unhappy because their systems aren’t providing the comfortable climates they’ve become accustomed to, which makes providing excellent service all the more important—and challenging. When customers’ needs are met on a consistent basis, HVAC companies stand a better chance of forming lasting business relationships.