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Don't Keep Your Customers Waiting

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on October 27, 2010

No one looks forward to home service appointments. Remember the last time your cable or Internet went out? It is maddening to sit at home waiting for the service technician to arrive within a promised four-hour window, unsure if he or she will be able to fix the problem at all. Even when all goes well, the whole experience is one preferably avoided. Here’s the upside for service companies: When customers expect a negative experience, that’s your best opportunity to surprise them, turning exasperation into delight. Here’s how to do it:

1. Minimize uncertainty. Don’t make your customers endure the standard "between 8 a.m. and noon" nonsense. Give them an accurate estimate when you set the appointment; if anything changes, let them know immediately. Provide real-time updates and self-service rescheduling. If your customers know exactly what to expect, the inconvenience associated with your brand is far less memorable.

2. Avoid the top annoyances. Two things drive customers crazy: failure to arrive on time and inability to solve the problem. Both can be avoided through better forecasting and by having the ability to adjust on the fly. Dig deep into incidents that provoked dissatisfaction to understand their immediate causes (traffic delays?) and the underlying causes (under-capacity?). You’ll often find that solving these issues saves money and increases customer satisfaction.

3. Prevent customer frustration. Staying at home and missing work because of disrupted service is hassle enough. Don’t make it worse. Ensure that your service technicians have everything they need to get the job done before they arrive—and that they can handle any additional queries or purchases on-the-spot.

4. Address the negative experience. Be creative. If a customer’s home Internet is out, why not set-up a temporary Wi-Fi hotspot before the technician starts the job?

Giving a little can go a long way. The extra effort can turn an inherently unpleasant situation into an opportunity to build loyalty. Remember, your customers are talking about you, whether it’s face-to-face or through social media channels. Make sure the message is positive.

Hannan Carmeli
President and Chief Operating Officer
Burlington, Mass.

Reader Comments


October 28, 2010 2:00 PM

What wonderful suggestions! If only it were so easy. "Set up a Wi-Fi hotspot" on the fly, in the outer boonies - right! This writer doesn't offer many solutions and perhaps doesn't work out in the real world of interruptions, customers who miss appointments and provide faulty information, non-payment upon completion of the job (leaving children in the home while they jet off,) and the myriad of other issues that make this Utopian wish list so unlikely. The points are valid; the lack of insights is not. If all these suggestions were possible businesses would love it as it would increase productivity and profit along with satisfied consumers. I suggest riding with a real tech for a couple of weeks to gather insight.

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