The 10 best things to do on service calls

Here are the top 10 ways service techs can gain credibility: 1. Put the customer's mind at ease regarding her immediate problems within the first two minutes. Address the situation or need that prompted the service call first. Then you're the hero and her mind will be relaxed and open to whatever else you have to say. Develop this calming, comforting and reassuring tone of voice when explaining the

Here are the top 10 ways service techs can gain credibility:

1. Put the customer's mind at ease regarding her immediate problems within the first two minutes. Address the situation or need that prompted the service call first. Then you're the hero and her mind will be relaxed and open to whatever else you have to say.

Develop this calming, comforting and reassuring tone of voice when explaining the problem, how quickly it can be repaired and the price to do so.

Don't walk in the door and start selling service agreements or bringing up additional products or services until you've put her mind at ease regarding her original complaint.

2. Once you've put her mind at ease, do a "courtesy inspection." Check everything over. The more stuff you look at, the more broken things you'll find. You'll quote more work on every call. The more you quote, the more you'll sell. The more you sell on every call, the more profitable you'll become.

3. Be an "active listener." Customers want to be listened to and won't know you are listening unless you acknowledge what they've said, and demonstrate that you've heard them and understand their concerns. You do this by:

Standing and listening, without doing anything else, while they're talking; Repeating back to them what they've just said to you (even if it was erroneous or insane).

4. Make eye contact. People respond positively to eye contact and associate it with honesty. Plus, it shows confidence, which is extremely important. They want you to be confident. If you're uncomfortable with eye contact, practice by staring yourself in the eye in the mirror, pupil-to-pupil for about five minutes per day for awhile.

5. Make a positive visual impression. Your first impression is crucial, and it's usually visual.

Ideally, service techs should base their personal appearance decisions on what will appeal to the widest variety of people possible. This includes the proper footwear, headgear, belt buckle and undershirt. This also includes your tools. If you're selling "quality," you better not be using cheap tools. That sends a conflicting message.

6. Be organized. This pertains to everything from your presentation, to your appearance, to the way you use you tools, to your truck.

From the moment you greet the customer, it must be obvious that you are:

  • A professional;
  • Successful at what you do;
  • Have done this before and have a standard procedure that you follow in this type of situation; and
  • Competent enough to be trusted to take this job and get it done without being watched.

Customers want you to be able to reach behind you into your tool pouch and, without looking, pull out the right tool and replace it when you're done.

They don't want to see things thrown about randomly in your truck.

Don't spread things around in a haphazard fashion, talk to yourself, or make grunting or "struggling" noises while working on the equipment.

Carry a small mat with you and lay your tools and parts on it while you work.

Leave the work area as clean as you found it.

7. Get the customer involved. It's OK for the customer to leave you alone while you're doing your diagnostic procedure. In fact, it's often desirable.

When it comes time to present your finding and recommendations, it's best to talk about the problem in front of the problem.

8. Speak in simple terms. Don't try to impress your customers with your intelligence by using a lot of big words. A confused mind always says "no." Keep your explanations short, simple and to the point.

9. Do the whole job on the first visit. Unfortunately, for many techs, the focus is on running the maximum number of calls per day. This means often deliberately ignoring repairs or procedures that would benefit the customer but are non-essential.

This type of "tunnel vision" approach can cause callbacks, and one callback can suck the profits out of an entire day's work.

The concern should not be the number of calls run per day but an intelligent compromise between the number of calls run per day and gross income.

Doing everything that needs to be done while you're there reduces (or even eliminates) callbacks and cuts down on travel time, which actually frees you up to see more customers and run more billable calls.

10. Do neat paperwork. Most service calls are run with only one spouse present — sometimes none. Neat, legible paperwork spelling out the work you did goes a long way toward eliminating those annoying after-the-fact phone calls to the office from absent spouses, friends and family members.

Additionally, doing neat and complete paperwork, including pressing hard enough to make the bottom copy readable, goes a long way toward getting the office personnel to favor you.