By Tom Grandy
Over my relatively long life I have learned a few things. Some things were learned by reading, or through training, while many others were learned via real life experiences. However, looking back, it seems like many of the true-life lessons were acquired by watching other individuals do things the wrong way. This was one of those situations.
Do you ever get that feeling of impending doom? My wife and I get that feeling every time there is a need for a plumbing repair. Yes, all the technical parts of the needed repairs are normally outstanding, performed by techs with lots of experience. It is the customer service side that we dread. It was a relatively simple call. We wanted the inside of our three toilets replaced. The call was made, service was scheduled, and the tech showed up on time.
Like most home repairs we have had performed, I stuck with the tech, for a number of reasons. First, I like the accountability side. Watching the tech work let’s him, or her, know I am concerned and want to be sure no time is wasted. If a question should arise, I am there to answer it. Yes, it can make the tech a bit nervous but hey, I am the customer, so I am always right, correct? This is a bit more important with our plumber since they refuse to switch to flat rate pricing (I have had numerous conversations with the owner, but so far he won’t budge) so we are charged time and material. Every minute spent on the job costs me money, even travel and picking up parts. Secondly, I like to learn. Sometimes I can watch the repair and perhaps make it myself if the same repair were to occur in the future. However, the main reason I watch is to gain material for one of these articles. There is always something that takes place, good or bad, that provides great content for an article. This repair did not disappoint. I am about to share with you a real-life situation that actually occurred during the call…with me watching. Read and learn, what NOT to do.
We were the first call of the day. The CSR called to tell us the tech was on the way. That part was good, except for my internal grumbling at having to pay for his travel time from the shop, roughly 30 minutes away, until he arrived at the house. To keep from rambling too much the problems I experienced, I will simply use bullet points below:
- Blocked the driveway – When I heard the knock at the door I glanced at the driveway. You guessed it; his van was parked right in the middle. Now that would normally not be a big deal, unless my wife wanted to go somewhere, as she always parks her car in the garage. The good news was that her car was not in the garage. The bad news was that she had already left to run an errand. Yes, you are correct, she returned to the house, during the repair, and was forced to park on the street. She was not a happy camper.
Tip #1: Either park on the street or at least, request permission to park in the driveway. Blocking the driveway irritates the customer.
- He wanted to use the front door – My wife keeps an exceptionally clean house. Entering through the front door would cause the tech to walk on the carpets, which then would generally require vacuuming after the tech left our home. We will cover clean up a bit later. However, if he entered through the garage he would be walking on tile floor, which would be much easier to clean, if were it necessary…it was. My wife suggested we open the garage door so when he arrived he would notice and come in that way. Sure enough, he knocked on the garage door. Victory! Well sort of. It wasn’t long before he REQUESTED to use the front door as it was a bit closer to his truck, which you will remember was parked in the middle of our driveway. I was polite and simply suggested he use the garage entrance. I didn’t even fuss at him for the request, at least not on the outside.
Hint #2: If it’s not obvious which door to come in and out of (multiple times during the call) then ask the homeowner what their preference is.
- No Drop Cloth – He apparently failed Tech Customer Service Training 101. He did not bring in a drop cloth to wipe his feet on during his numerous trips back and forth to the truck. I am not sure which was worse. Option one, which was not using a drop cloth at all or option two. Option two is the one our HVAC technician chooses to use. When he comes he brings a drop cloth, however it’s normally dirty from the past job. After entering our home, he routinely flips it out on the floor. Guess what happens. Right, the last customers dirt heads straight for my wife’s clean floor! She is not a happy camper, nor am I, with either of these options.
Hint #3: Bring “clean” drop cloths and use them. When this is done, lesson one in Customer Service 101 will have been accomplished.
- No Shoe Covers – Yes, I understand that some jobs are performed in less than clean conditions. Mud gets left on shoes and grass gets picked up from the yard (when the tech walks in the grass rather than walking on the sidewalk or driveway). The industry has found a solution for that. They are called shoe covers. My tech apparently did not attend that class either. Over a period of nearly two hours, walking upstairs to one bathroom, back and forth to the main level bathroom, and downstairs to the basement bathroom, he wore no shoe covers. It wasn’t hard to track where he had been, just follow the mud on the floor and carpet. This process did not create joy or happiness for me or my wife.
Hint #4: Wear shoe covers. Show respect for the customer’s home. They are not expensive and they at least give the perception of caring about the customer’s home.
The length of most articles is supposed to be roughly a thousand words. With that in mind, we will cover the remaining 10 Customer Irritating Situations that occurred during the call in Part 2 of this article. Stay tuned for next month’s edition!
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