Ask the Experts | Adding Value to Customers in the Queue

Question: What can my CSR's do to not lose the customer when our dispatch board fills up and we may not be able to get out to them for a day or two?

Drew Cameron; President, HVAC Sellutions & Energy Design Systems, Inc:

On the EGIA platform, we talk about how to take these calls and how to schedule them. First and foremost, you want to capture the customer’s contact information upfront. When you have your customer’s information, you can work on prioritizing your schedule with your service agreement and warranty customers first. They should always get same-day service no matter what else is on the board.

If you need to bump some non-customers to take care of you service agreement and warranty customers, you certainly should do that. After that, I prioritize repeat customers next and put them in order by quality of potential opportunity based on the equipment age. Then I’ll look to new customers based on the opportunity and equipment age.

So, if you’re an existing customer that has done business with me before but you’re not a service agreement customer, you have a lower priority than a warranty or service agreement customer. If you have 10-year-old equipment rather than five-year-old equipment, I’ll go to the 10-year-old equipment first versus the 5-year-old. That’s what I mean by the order of the potential opportunity. That’s the way you can change the prioritization.

You can also inform your non-service agreement customers that they can accelerate the rate of service by purchasing a service agreement over the phone. Your call takers can inform callers that they can avoid those potential equipment breakdowns and laps in service during the busiest times of the year. That’s obviously the reason they’re on the phone with you.

You may also allow the customer to prepay the dispatch and diagnostic fee. I’ve heard of contractors telling new customers that if they’re willing to pay the dispatch and diagnostic fee upfront, they can accelerate their service by being moved up in the queue faster if the company gets an opening.

When you look at your dispatch calendar, it’s organized by the estimated amount of time it takes each job to get done. More often than not, the average team accelerates the solutions and gets the job done quicker than estimated and slots open up on the schedule a little bit sooner. So, if people are willing to become service agreement customers or prepay their dispatch and diagnostic fee, I’m willing to move people up in the queue.

You can also get a little creative. You can tell people that you appreciate their confidence in taking a chance with your company and you want to give them the chance to save a little money for agreeing to wait. Some companies I work with give their customers scratch off tickets that might save them 5% or 10% on their service. You can say something like, “For giving us the chance to serve, we want to give you the chance to save.”

You can do something like that to intrigue some people and make them feel appreciated, even when you can’t give them service as quickly as they would like. Remember, the key upfront is to capture the customer’s information so it’s in your database and let them know you can move them up in the queue if they’re willing to become service agreement customers or prepay your dispatch and diagnostic fee.

It’s like going to a restaurant. When you go to a restaurant, they tell you it’s probably going to be a 20-minute wait. More often than not, it only takes 10 minutes. Some will ask if you want inside, outside, or first available. By offering your customer some options to the level of service they can expect, they tend to feel appreciated and remain in the queue. Some people are obviously not going to wait but most will.

Another thing you can do is, if you have runners and your service agreement customer is without heating or cooling and business is really backed up, you can send some temporary portable units out to them until you are able to fit them in.

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