BY BOB MIODONSKI
OF CONTRACTOR'S STAFF
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — Consultant Gary Oetker outlined the 10 steps to a perfect service call Feb. 23-24 during Quality Service Contractors' Power Meeting XXVI here.
"The perfect service call is all about setting up expectations for the company and the personnel — not just the techs, all customer contact points — and then creating processes around getting it done," he told QSC members. "If you don't define the steps, how do you hold people accountable, train them, resource them and praise them? As long as you're defining the steps, why not write them down?"
Each key area of the call has steps that need to be defined, learned, practiced and executed in the field, Oetker said. Too often, contractors react to a call for service without these steps in place.
"We're very action oriented and don't take the time to consider what we want to accomplish," he noted.
The 10 steps are:
- The pre-call. This step includes answering the phone and scheduling an appointment. Phone etiquette suggests that the phone be answered promptly, within three rings if possible. Certain questions have to be asked.
"You need to ask upfront how the customer is going to pay," Oetker said. "If it's a residential customer, ask about a maintenance agreement. Even if you know they have one, this re-establishes the value of an agreement, and you can offer a discount."
- The arrival. This covers parking the service vehicle and getting ready for the call.
"You may want to time-stamp your arrival if there's going to be a question later," he said. "Remember that a parked truck is a billboard for the neighborhood."
- The approach to the home. This involves the employee creating a first impression with his appearance, intelligence and character.
"You may want to have extra shirts that the tech can change into during the day," Oetker said. "Breath mints are required by some companies."
He suggested that the dispatcher or tech call on the way to make sure someone is home and to identify the tech to the customer.
- Contact. Greeting the customer includes a handshake, during which the tech can ask about a service agreement (with the opportunity to sell one), verify method of payment and present his business card.
"Gain permission to ask questions to make sure the dispatcher got it right," he said.
- The interview. Key questions will allow the tech to learn about the customer, the problem at hand and other areas in the home that may present opportunities.
"A lot of techs ignore this step and just jump in," Oetker said.
- Understanding humans. Techs must be taught how to relate to different personality types. Some customers are amiable, others are analytical and some are more expressive than others.
- The plan for the customer. The tech explains the diagnostic procedures and asks the customer to show him the problem. During this step, the tech gets permission for access to the home's problem, and he can invite the customer to tag along.
- Diagnosis and treatment options. The tech completes the diagnosis and fills in the service ticket or wireless input device. It's important that the tech not oversell the repairs and that he uses collateral materials to explain repair options and the service agreement. He explains the timetable for the repair and gets customer authorization to proceed with repairs.
- Executing the repairs. The tech completes the technical repairs. He reviews the repairs on the service ticket or wireless input device and gets the customer's signature. Then he collects payment and processes the paperwork or transmits the wireless data.
"Technicians should be trained upfront to collect and to demonstrate the value of the repair," Oetker said.
- Debriefing and completion. The tech explains how referral coupons work for the customer's friends and neighbors and introduces the customer response card, which could be part of the service ticket. He thanks the customer and returns to his vehicle to distribute door hangers in the neighborhood. Then he has a debriefing with the dispatcher.
A customer service rep should make a "happy call" to the customer to follow up on the service just completed. The company should follow up on any customer response card with ratings less than eight on a 10-point scale.
"Perfect service requires discipline and accountability as well as resources, training and follow-up practices," Oetker said.