Communications make or break a client relationship
‘No’ means ‘No’: Choose your words carefully when talking to clients
How many of your dispatchers say something like this, “The diagnostic charge to come to your home is $X. The service technician will diagnose your problem and...”
YouTube and Google have given the average homeowner a video ability to “diagnose their own system.” When they think something is wrong with their HVAC system, they jump on YouTube or Google and try to find the answer. And, they probably will find a video with something that is like what they are experiencing. They have the diagnosis, right or wrong, and they just want someone to fix the problem because they can’t. So, you get a phone call.
If you use the words “Diagnostic charge” in your explanation, you will get the self-diagnosing customers saying something like, “I don’t need anyone to diagnose the problem. I already know what it is and I’m not paying you a diagnostic charge.” Whether they know what the problem is or not, they THINK they know and won’t pay for a “diagnostic charge.” What to say instead?
“The service call is $X. When the technician comes to your home he will give you a firm quote for the repairs in addition to the service call.” Or: “The investment you make for one of our trained technicians to come to your home is $X. After looking at your system he will give you a firm quote for the repairs in addition to the charge to come to your home.”
Either of these two statements works. They won’t get you in trouble because a client thinks he knows what is wrong with his system and doesn’t want to pay for an expert opinion. Other words to avoid:
No, can’t, won’t, and any other negative word. Saying these negative words is usually a guarantee that you will make an upset client more upset, or a mad client even madder. Always try to be positive in what is said, even if it is unpleasant news.
We all know what happens to a hot and cranky client when you say no. They get madder and even crankier. This is not how you want to have a conversation with someone who writes your paycheck. Marketing in the summer means taking care of your clients right the first time and treating upset clients with respect so that you retain them and potentially get referrals.
Warning for busy summers: Your office staff can get grouchy too! This is the time of year that they are bearing the brunt of being the messenger. With full schedules, telling a hot, cranky client that you can’t get to her home or office immediately is difficult to do when every call is like that.
How to say ‘no’ without saying ‘no’
If your first available appointment is two or three days out, the best way to say it is: “Our first available appointment is ___________. Or we have one at _________. (A later date and time). Or, if you can approve overtime charges I can send our on call technician tonight. Which would you prefer?”
If the client says that is unacceptable, then you simply apologize and say that this is the first appointment available. However, you will place the client on a waiting list in case there is a cancellation. This does two things. First, it tells the client that you will try to “fit her in” and second, it subtly lets the client know not to cancel the appointment because it will be filled and she will have to wait even longer.
If it is a potential client who has never used your company before, she may schedule the first available appointment and call other companies to try to find one that can come sooner. In busy times most companies are usually booked a day or more out and she may not find a company that can come sooner. However, if she finds a company who can come sooner, usually she will not cancel your appointment. Your technician shows up and no one is home or she turns him away. This is why it is imperative to call before you go to a client’s home.
Changing how you talk with a client may take some practice. However, once you use it, you will find that the initial client call will go more smoothly.