How to Make Sure Your Customers Aren’t Leaving You


Lauren Pszonak
March 10, 2018
minutes to read

Get to the Point

  1. Address the Right Problems - Many problems the customers have can be resolved with more complete information, and positive attitudes. However, no matter the issue, make sure you are addressing the problems they have.
  2. Start A Conversation - Don’t just do a check-in a few days after the service, check in 3 and 6 months later to see if there is any other tune-up or service you can provide.
  3. Engage with the Customer - When you are performing a service, you can talk about the last visit and see if there is anything you can do to check-in with the last job you performed. This shows follow through and can open the door to more projects.

Customers switch providers for all kinds of reasons. However, a poor customer service experience drove the decision of a whopping 72% of service company customers who switched to another provider. Why? For the most part, that interaction with a CSR is the main interaction the customer has with the company and represents the company.

The good news is that 75% of customers who switched said that their provider could have done something to keep them as a customer. Needless to say, providing a high quality customer service experience is crucial to customer retention. So how do you make a better customer service experience?

Address the problems that customers care about

Customer service is a tricky business. You have to balance providing a positive experience with giving away the shop. It's hard to recruit and retain good people for positions where interactions with customers often start out negative and can sometimes escalate into hostility. A great place to start is to focus on the key things that drive customers to seek another provider. A MarketingCharts survey of service companies in 2015 found five key points of frustration associated with the customer service experience:

  1. Having to make multiple calls to get the same issue resolved
  2. Having to wait for a long time to talk to a Customer Service Representative (CSR)
  3. The CSR lacking appropriate  knowledge
  4. Having to re-explain the problem to multiple CSRs
  5. CSRs who were not friendly or were impolite

The easiest way to start implementing better customer service is to invest in a system that tracks your customers and information about them, their jobs, and equipment and makes that available to all CSRs. This eliminates a lot of the problems associated with knowledge and re-explaining the problems and will set the stage for performing amazing outbound customer service. Plus, when a CSR has to dig through paperwork to find past invoices, parts, and other information a customer gets put on hold.

Be the one to start the conversation

It's natural to assume that if a customer isn't calling you, everything is fine. Unfortunately, another equally plausible explanation is that the customer is unhappy and is calling someone else. Many companies perform a "happy check" to follow-up with a customer on work done recently. A lot fewer take the time and energy to reach out to customers about older experiences. However, a quick phone call three months after a job asking how things are working out can do wonders... even if it only goes into someone's voicemail. Being the one who starts the conversation demonstrates that you value the customer.

Engage with the customer in the home

Maintenance agreements are a great way to generate opportunities but they are also a way to show off the level of customer service you offer. Arming your techs with field service software connected to the customer relationship management back-end allows them to perform a quick look-up on site and find out not only what they are supposed to be doing, but what has been done in the past and any problems the customer may have reported.

Instead of calling back to the office to get information, the tech will be knowledgeable and confident. More importantly, if the customer has concerns that can't be addressed immediately, they will be able to see that the tech is recording the information on something other than the back of an envelope from the truck which will probably never make it back to the office.

Look at Pricing

The start of the year is a great time to look at pricing. Usually, you have an idea of how your company fared the year prior, and you want to ensure you will continue to grow in the months to come. Many of us make New Year’s resolutions with respect to spending or saving in our personal lives, and it’s no different for business owners. Making sure your pricing is in line with where it should be is one of the strongest ways to start the year the right way.

Part of looking at your price book is finding where the issues are, and that can take time. An HVAC company in January is going to be very busy, so it’s a difficult time for a close look. However, a plumbing company might not be as busy. Whenever you tackle this job, your best bet is to look at what your labor rates are. Start there, and let it trickle down across the board. Ask yourself, “Are my labor rates helping my business stay profitable?”

Remember, there are many different services out there and many different groups or communities that you can engage. Never hesitate to say, “Hey, I’m a business owner in Florida. What should my labor rates be?” You can build your price from there. There are also some great billable hour calculators available.

Set Goals

There is no better time of year for looking inward than January. Set your personal goals and company goals for the following 12 months. If you can break those down into departmental goals, even better! Perhaps that means a CSR booking closing rates a little better, or a truck doing 250,000 a year rather than 200,000.

Many companies have found that using an Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) goal-setting system pays off. Looking for a guidebook when it comes to OKRs? Check out Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr. 

One key question is the best way to handle setting goals: Is it smarter for business owners to handle this solo, together with staff, or to delegate completely? 

The best approach is to set goals at the department level. As an owner, you need to take the time to understand what the goals are in each department, and make sure they are in line with your goals for the company. No one likes to set unattainable goals for themselves, so make sure you push your departments to set goals that are lofty, rather than simple ones to feel good about hitting. Entrust your staff to aim higher, and watch how they respond.

Pass Along these Points

There's more where that came from.