Great HVAC service depends on a variety of factors. Some of these factors are under your control at whatever role you may have within the HVAC/R space. These factors boil down to having the right attitude, training, support resources, personal traits and service culture. Let’s take a look at some things you can do to improve your effectiveness when dealing with clients in most scenarios.
“That service is the noblest which is rendered for its own sake.”
1. Have patience and don’t take things personally
Not all projects are ideal. Dealing with difficult people or situations can sometimes be an emotional challenge. Whatever the case you will be better off if you can handle your emotions. Patience is necessary and can be an acquired skill with some practice and understanding. Not taking personal issue however, can be more of a challenge if you are more sensitive. Either way, the ability to handle difficult situations without getting emotional or personal is not just a big plus, but also a basic prerequisite when it comes to providing good HVAC service.
2. Walk in the client’s shoes
“Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his moccasins” goes a Native American aphorism. This concept serves people well both in sales and support roles. Having empathy, the ability to put yourself in your client’s situation can help you understand how they feel, what they want and what a fair solution would be. Of course, to get to this point you need to ask many questions to identify their concerns, worries, needs and wants.
3. Be honest, admit mistakes and have the right answers
It takes many years of honesty to build a good reputation but only one lie to tear it all down. Dishonesty is probably the fastest way to lose any credibility you have accumulated over time. So always be honest, admit to your mistakes and do everything possible to reverse any damage you may have done. Many times, you won’t be able to give an honest answer immediately so be honest and ask for some time to get the right answer. Ideally you should already have answers for client concerns and if not at least a reasonable response to show them that you are in control and working hard to help them.
4. Communicate well
A cliché but certainly this point deserves its place here. Many problems in client support stem from poor communication. To avoid misunderstandings and errors in communication there are some things that can vastly reduce errors:
1.Listen. Don’t multitask when communicating. Focus your attention on the conversation.
2.Explain your point clearly and repeat it in different wording if you have doubts.
3.Use appropriate language – technical lingo only for those who understand it and simple language for everyone else.
4.Ask for confirmation that the point was understood (in a non-patronising way!).
Whenever possible, try to get these communications and confirmations in writing (emails, messages, etc).
When customers react very strongly, in most cases it is due to feeling ignored. The vast majority of clients are reasonable people (with a few exceptions, of course). If a client sees a technician making a dedicated effort to help them they will most certainly appreciate it. Whatever your role, don’t give up easily.
6. Exude positive, friendly vibes
This one goes without saying. If you’re having a tough day it can be hard to leave your troubles behind. A smile can be contagious though and usually brings out the best in everyone. Make a conscious effort to be friendly and in most cases, you’ll receive the same response in return. Being personable is absolutely crucial to any client facing role and can be a valuable tool in de-escalating situations where there may be tension.
7. Proactivity – act before the client needs it
If you can solve a problem for a client before they realise they had it you’ll be doing three things with one action. The client will see you as someone who understands what they want, cares for their needs and is trustworthy and dependable. Just make sure that you mention what needs doing and why for the sake of transparency and keeping the client informed. Ensure that the client is informed and provides consent for whatever you do.
8. Always make it right
Another obvious but important point that is absolutely critical in HVAC service. In the event a client is let down by some aspect of service, compromising and assuming it is acceptable is not the right way of doing things. Even if a specific issue cannot be resolved you can always offer something else to counter the problem caused.
For instance, consider a heating system installation being delayed by fault of the installer which would lead to discomfort and disappointment for the client that needs heating. The view that this “is what it is” is short-sighted. If a temporary heating system could be brought in at no cost to resolve this issue this would be an example of making things right as it removes the source of disappointment. Of course, understanding the client’s position is necessary to be able to make a good judgment call.
9. Be flexible or you won’t offer great HVAC service
To be able to resolve situations, such as the example above, you should be flexible. Flexibility is necessary for providing great HVAC service as it is crucial in reducing the levels of dissatisfaction when problems arise. Of course, it is likely there are processes and workflows in place but when adaptability is called for you should be open to trying different approaches to solve problems. You can cultivate your flexibility by gaining more experience, having a more open approach and having confidence in yourself and your team.
10. Go beyond the call of duty
Making things right is one thing, going beyond the call of duty is another. If you have managed to satisfy a client with your work you can go a step further and delight them. A delighted customer will spread the word that you are the best out there and will return time after time.
11. Follow up
Follow-up is one of the most missed opportunities to add value in HVAC services. After having installed or serviced a unit, it is worth following up with a call one or two weeks later. This will give you the opportunity to demonstrate you care as well as the ability to make things right if they aren’t.
12. Ask for feedback
Ask for honest feedback. We all get an ego boost when we get praise for our work, but that isn’t the most helpful feedback. Look for things to improve – the best place to start is where you get negative feedback.
13. Improve and fix processes
A good trait to have in any HVAC role is the need to constantly improve. This is especially so in any client-facing role. So, when you get less than stellar feedback, make things right for the client but also take action by fixing the root cause of the issue. There is always room for improvement!
Offering great HVAC service is only one area HVAC pros should excel in. As an HVAC professional you may want to download your free copy of the HVAC Pro’s Ultimate Toolkit for Professional Development to learn more!