All customers are going to have preconceived expectations about any type of home service they receive. One of the most important things to remember when you arrive at a customer’s home for any type of service call is that the customer probably did not isolate the problem before calling you. When a customer experiences a problem in their home, they don’t immediately call for professional help. They are likely to try to fix the situation themselves using their knowledge or the tips they can find online.
For example, if a toilet gets clogged, a customer may flush the toilet multiple times, attempt to use a plunger, add water to the bowl or look up other ways to troubleshoot the issue online.
When their AC is struggling, the customer goes straight to the thermostat, changes the filters or cycles the breakers. Other members of the household are likely involved in looking up solutions to the problem online as well.
Even electrical problems seem fixable with an online tutorial, though fewer homeowners are willing to mess with electricity on their own.
No matter what the situation is, the customer will form expectations based on what they have read online or tried themselves in the home before you even arrive. Those expectations could be wrong, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t present.
As soon as you step into the home, the customer will have expectations about what you’re going to do, how much it will cost and what your service should look like. Whether these expectations are from the internet or word of mouth, they are potential areas of dissatisfaction for the customer.
When you arrive at a customer’s home, the first thing you need to do is set the expectations you want the customer to have about your visit. If you let them do it themselves, they will revert to the misconceptions they have learned from other sources. This could cause massive trouble as the visit proceeds and your actions don’t line up with their expectations.
You can’t just blow past the customer’s thoughts and get straight to work – you have to take the time to reveal what exactly the customer’s expectations are in order to meet or exceed them. This doesn’t mean standing on the front porch swapping pleasantries. You have to get to the affected appliance or area of the home while simultaneously starting a conversation that can give you the answers you need.
Once you have some rapport with the customer, you should arrive at the area of the home in question. This does not give you license to drop the conversation and start asking questions like an interview. Keep the conversation going as you inquire about the problem. Gather information, don’t interrogate.
For example, if you visit a home to fix a clogged toilet and keep up conversation, you may find out that the customers have never had a plumber service their home. While there may not be any emergency problems that have revealed themselves, you can safely assume that any issues you find throughout the plumbing system will be a surprise to the homeowner.
Without purposely looking for plumbing issues, it’s your duty as a professional to not let those surprises become problems for the household – especially when you know that a home not regularly serviced by a plumber is highly likely to have plumbing issues brewing.
When your conversation with the customer reveals that there are areas of the home that likely need attention, there’s an opportunity for you to reset what the customer expects out of your visit. You may have been called to fix a toilet, but if you know other sections of the plumbing are going to need maintenance and care, you inform the customer about those tasks.
Set the expectation that appliances need maintenance every year. Some homeowners don’t know this, and some may learn from your knowledge that they need to start giving proper attention to their home systems.
Keep establishing how much the customer knows by asking questions about the age of their appliance, the quality or the filtration systems it has. Some homeowners may know these things, and some may not. All of this information can tell you if you should keep pressing to find out if other areas of their home need service.
Customers do not like surprises. Never take it upon yourself to start checking other areas of the home that the customer believes are fine without implementing the hard reset.
Yes, you are there to take care of the clogged toilet, but because you are credible and thorough, you’ll need to check other plumbing systems to make sure they are all working together properly. When you’re done, you will clearly explain your findings to the homeowner and allow them to decide what actions they want to take.
Reset the expectations ahead of your actions if you want to avoid the immediate “no” that customers are likely to give if you spend a long time finding problems they don’t want you to find.
Learn more about setting expectations for your customers so that your service call progresses smoothly. Plus, you’ll be able to do your job easier without the confrontation or confusion of the customer. Check out all of our resources – including classes, blogs and podcasts – to help you IGNITE THE POWER WITHIN.
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