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Customer Service…..

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  • Customer Service…..

    Customer service is one of the best selling points for any service company today. You have companies offering smiling service men to show up with booties on and smelling nice. Which I always thought was strange but ok I’ll buy it. Since I am always traveling or busy with work a lot of the times I am forced to call someone to the house for repairs. Recently I had my heating system break down. I called a service guy to come out and look at it. Later that day after I knew he had left I called my wife to ask how the service man was. She said he was very nice and professional and did not overcharge us. I had called three places after getting referrals from friends and family the other two places I called had good referrals one company I got a machine the other company I got a grouchy woman answering the phone and the third company I spoke with a very nice guy who set up a service time and showed up a few minutes early.
    I get to speak with a lot of your secretaries and wives and have found a lot of different approaches to customer service. There are the ones that use family to answer the phones, answering services or hire a secretary / book keeper. So if you’re a one man show or you run 30 trucks how do you approach customer service in your business?

  • #2
    Re: Customer Service…..

    Doesn't matter if you are one or a hundred

    The phone is the Front Line of the business. You blow it there, you likely won't get the chance to make a second impression

    Image is everything. You present yourself in a professional manner and it will carry you pretty far along.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Customer Service…..

      If you have an immediate computer voice tree when someone calls you have poor customer service.

      I do not care what someone sitting down with the numbers shows you that this needs to be done and how much it can save you.

      It's your first line of business contact! No human, poor service.

      J.C.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Customer Service…..

        Over the years I have seen some of the biggest idiots dressed up nice and neat in a slick uniform to distract from the fact that they did not know what they were doing. I am sometimes weary of the "smell good" approach. Clean, organized, honest and knowledgeable are what I'm looking for.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Customer Service…..

          I like the companies that the owner or one of the techs / plumber answers the phone. If not a plumber at least some one involved in the business enough that knows what services the company offers. I understand that the answering services out there offer a real person to speak with but they know squat about plumbing. It's funny when I am returning a call or following up with a company and their answering service picks up and says their greeting. I'll ask is Dave there? The reply I get is I don't know Dave because I am with the answering service can I take a message? I am thinking well Dave is the owner of the company writing you checks. The other thing I get is I will ask the person do you do drain cleaning or jetting and the girl that sounds 12 on the other line will respond with I am not sure what that is but I can take a message. Why waste your customers time just have a voice mail for crying out loud. It's a lot cheaper. I want to hear it from you guys do the live answering service companies work?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Customer Service…..

            Originally posted by JCsPlumbing View Post
            If you have an immediate computer voice tree when someone calls you have poor customer service. J.C.
            that is soooo true. i am a one man band and answer the phone, schedule the work, pay the bills, take out the trash, and do the day to day stuff that keeps me afloat

            i also listen to the customers complaint, ask questions and listen to their answers, and show up to the job with an idea of what i need. sometimes that changes once i'm there. "No Ma'am thats your cistern fill pipe not your septic cleanout. may i see the problem bathroom?"

            i also include the customer in every step of what i'm doing if they are interested.

            i try to be respectful of their property and leave it cleaner than when i arrived

            steve
            In the never ending struggle to keep the water flowing.... The Poo Poo Cowboy rides again!!!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Customer Service…..

              I have a live answering service and so far it is working out great. FAR better service than when I answered the phone myself.

              Customers prefer to get a live person rather than a voicemail. If I am in a crawlspace or driving, etc. and someone calls I can trust that my answering service will take the call.
              Before I hired them I had to let it go to voicemail, and many people wouldn't leave messages, they just assume I won't call them back and they hang up before leaving a message.

              Since I hired the 24 hour answering service I am getting a much higher call retention. I no longer have to worry about anwering every call myself or losing the call to the competition. My answering service answers, takes all the information and forwards it to me. Most times I call the people back within 5 minutes.

              You want an example? TODAY: 6 people called my business line. All six calls were professionally answered and messages forwarded to me.
              Now if my answering service wasn't professional, I wouldn't have done well with those six calls. ONE call was a previous customer. FIVE calls were new customers calling from referrals or the phonebook.
              I ended up going out on all SIX calls today! 6 out of 6, that is 100% closing rate ON THE PHONE!!! I kid you not, my business phone rang exactly 6 times today with 6 different customers calling. ANd I did the jobs for all 6 of those customers.

              Here is the best part: I may have actually had 11 or 12 calls today and I don't even know it, because the answering service weeds out all the telemarketers and I told them not to accept applications from people looking for jobs as I get those calls almost daily. So I NEVER have to waste my time answering the phone to a telemarketer or jobseeker.

              6 out of 6 jobs today turned into completed calls: $1240 in company sales for all those 6 phone rings. The other plumber at our company was tied up all day on a remodel, while I handled all the service calls.

              So based on the fact that for two years I answered the phone myself and now I have a live answering service that performs exactly as described above, I would argue that my customer service is BETTER than a small company that doesn't have a receptionist or answering service and answers the phone directly (when they can. )
              Water Heater Reviews & Water Heater Information

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Customer Service…..

                I too have an answering service. We use it for when no one is in the office and on weekends/ holidays. I've been fairly pleased with it. They have made a few mistakes, but nothing that hasn't been corrected.

                I just simply hate answering machines/ voice mail, and I don't want my cell phone ringing nonstop when I'm at a job.

                Most of the calls that our answering service gets is emergency stuff because of when we use them. I think people who are in panic mode feel better if they talk to a live person rather than a machine.

                Having a plumber answer the phone is a great idea.

                An idea that I can't afford, but a great idea.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Customer Service…..

                  Originally posted by Service Guy View Post
                  I would argue that my customer service is BETTER than a small company that doesn't have a receptionist or answering service and answers the phone directly (when they can. )
                  I would like to hear you argue that...how insulting.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Customer Service…..

                    My business is run from my cell phone.

                    I stopped answering long distance numbers because 99% of them are salespeople. The other 1% are forum members who's calls I return if they leave a message.

                    Unrecognized numbers are answered by me so potential new customers dont get away. Doesn't matter if I'm on the roof, under a house, talking to another customer, hands covered with sewer, head dripping with sweat. I stop what I'm doing, remove my latex, wipe my forehead with my sleeve, and answer the phone. Unfortunately this means salesmen with local numbers get through. Not interested, thanks, click.

                    The few accidentally missed calls are called back immediately.

                    Most regulars names are programmed and pop up when they call. If I'm busy, sometimes I'll let certain regulars go to voicemail. This is only for the loyal regulars that I know are not going anywhere else for service and who know that I am going to call back. I usually call back within ten minutes.

                    Once on the phone, I'm yes sir, yes ma'am, unless they start to say things like they know how to do it but..., or the last guy only charged me $xx.xx, or just start complaining in general about anything I say, then I change gears. "Oh, I see, o.k..., click."

                    I average 60 jobs per month so this is manageable right now. Some days I cant get off my phone, some days I'm staring at it wondering why its not ringing.

                    I may consider an answering service in the future if/when things get consistently busier. Seems like a good idea. I just need to get passed this 60 job average that I seem to be stuck at. New improved yellow pages ad in August. I'm hopeful.

                    Lenny

                    Pronounced A-Bear Drain Care

                    I know, it doesn't make sense.


                    http://www.hebertdraincare.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Customer Service…..

                      my calls are all directed to my office line. if it's a true emergency, they can call my cell phone #.

                      it's up to the customer and me to determine what's an emergency.

                      i'm typically reachable by phone 24 hours a day and every now and then, i'll get the zombie calling at 3 in the morning thinking it's normal

                      the non emergencies calls get returned either during the day while driving or at night time when i get home. the emergencies i speak to at the time they call and depending on the issue, i either jot it down or call them when i'm free. but i do answer and give them assurance i'll call them back

                      there is no one better determining what's an emergency and what's just a nuisance than the person who actually is doing the work. that's the actual plumber. not a service.

                      a service is fine if you don't want to be bothered at work. but a service is not a plumber who can assure the customer that it's ok

                      i guess i don't get all the telemarketing calls to warrant a screening process.

                      rick.
                      phoebe it is

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Customer Service…..

                        Originally posted by NorthernIllinoisPlumber View Post
                        I would like to hear you argue that...how insulting.
                        Because while a one man shop that answers the phone by himself is working, or in the shower, or sleeping, or in a crawlspace, or driving in heavy traffic, etc. he can't answer the phone easily. Been there, done that.

                        While a professional answering service will answer the phone 365 days/year, 24 hours/day.

                        That is why I signed up, it is more convenient.
                        Water Heater Reviews & Water Heater Information

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Customer Service…..

                          Wow, thank you all for the feed back to my questions. It's nice to understand the other side of how you the pro's handle business and taking calls from your customers. As a consumer and a sales manager I see the two sides of it.

                          I could see some advantages to an answering service but it did not seem like it would be the best choice. Now I can see the advantages for you guys. Like I said earlier that when I called three companies the one with the vm I just hung up. Now I think about it it would have been smart to leave a message and not just give up.

                          My conclusion is that we do what is best for our companies and what is with in our means. I think it also it has a lot to do with our demographics as well. What works in New York, NY, may not work in Houston,TX and that may not work in Casper, WY. The point is, that we try and be as successful as we can even if we disagree with how that should be done. That's why you own your own business and not work for a corporate company.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Customer Service…..

                            Originally posted by DanLawrence View Post
                            Like I said earlier that when I called three companies the one with the vm I just hung up. Now I think about it it would have been smart to leave a message and not just give up.
                            Exactly the problem with letting the phone ever to go to voicemail. That is why I use a service. I can't realistically answer every call 24 hours/day, but they can. I don't sit around waiting for the phone to ring, they do.
                            Water Heater Reviews & Water Heater Information

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Customer Service…..

                              Originally posted by Service Guy View Post
                              Because while a one man shop that answers the phone by himself is working, or in the shower, or sleeping, or in a crawlspace, or driving in heavy traffic, etc. he can't answer the phone easily. Been there, done that.

                              While a professional answering service will answer the phone 365 days/year, 24 hours/day.

                              That is why I signed up, it is more convenient.
                              So what you are saying is that YOUR customer service is better with the answering service? I will buy that.

                              I will be honest with you...in this day and age, I have never been out of reach of the phone, but...there have been times I let it go to the machine. 95% of my customers are referral, they are looking for me, and leave a message. If it rings, and no message is left, I call them back!

                              Comment

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