Asking Questions & Using Answers

The third step of the PRESS PLAY process is E: Evaluate with questions. What are you, as the technician, supposed to ask your customers and how should you be using the answers? We’re going to discuss why this step is so important and get into the nitty-gritty of how questions should be used as tools instead of time wasters. 

How Long Should You Be Asking Questions For?

If you’ve reached step three in the PRESS PLAY process, that indicates that you have already pulled up to your customer’s home, observed the outside of the house and are talking to them. If you are simply asking questions and not doing anything else with them, this phase might take you four or five minutes. However, if you reach the next phase — settling anxieties — and you haven’t been in that home for 10 or 15 minutes, you’re doing something wrong.


Specifically, with service technicians, those first 15 minutes are your prime opportunity to use questions to your advantage before you disappear under a house, into an attic or to work on a malfunctioning system. You may continue the conversation with some customers as you move to the system in question, but they also may not follow you to the next area of the home. You have to be sure you evaluate thoroughly in the first phase of conversation to give you enough time to build credit, trust and authority when you need to move on to settling their anxieties. 


Questions Can Change The Way You Recommend

You may think that most service calls will end in the same recommendation because you know the best choice ahead of time. Failing to ask enough or the right questions can affect how personalized and accurate your recommendation is at the end of the visit. For example, if energy efficiency is important to the customer, questions at the beginning of your visit will reveal that. This knowledge might change how you show the customer that investing in a new unit will make their home more energy-efficient instead of a general recommendation that doesn’t address their needs.

Avoiding Surprises

One of the key benefits of asking good questions is being able to frame the narrative the way you want to. This includes getting the information you need to fully diagnose the system, but it also allows you to set up expectations from the very beginning. If you get to the end of your recommendation and a surprise pops up, it can easily turn into an objection or a no from the customer. For example, a common surprise you may experience is, “I didn’t think it would cost that much,” or “I’ve had this system for years, how can it stop working now?” 

If you don’t ask questions, you have no idea what the customer expects out of the visit and the solution to their problem. Customers have misconceptions about their home systems, and asking questions can inform you which ones you need to address or be aware of. Find out the age of the home and the system you’re working on. Casually figure out how long they plan to live in the home. Ask how much maintenance has been completed on the system. 


How To Evaluate Without Interrogating

Your training may have taught you that asking questions is enough. If you stand there and ask one question after another without ever going deeper into the answers the customer gives you, it sounds more like an interrogation than a conversation. You’ve got the question-asking down, now it’s time to use the answers effectively. The answers that your customers give you can tell you a lot about what they know about the system and what they expect from the visit. You know how to tell the age of a water heater or HVAC system, but asking the customer how old it is lets you know if they know as well. 


The customer expects you to fill in the gaps between answers because you are an expert. Don’t give them room to create or find misinformation. Provide context for your questions, and give the customer some conversational idea that you’ll be assessing the entire system for health. Give the customer information about the system and then give the recommendation at a later time.

Need Help Asking Effective Questions?

Whether you need some assistance learning the best questions to ask your customers or want to upgrade your service to use the answers efficiently, Service Excellence can help. We train real contractors to get real results and feel more confident in their service. Listen to the whole Windshield Time podcast for more examples of effective questions and answer usage. Plus, you can check out our other resources on our website and sign up for online and live training classes!

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