Creating Customer Trust
Originally published: 03.01.08 by Tom Piscitelli
Building customer confidence will boost your bottom line.
People want to buy from someone they trust. You can be the most knowledgeable hvacr person there is but if the customer doesn’t trust you they won’t buy from you. I know you’re trustworthy. You know you’re trustworthy. But it’s still your job to let the customer know you’re trustworthy. Until this occurs you are spinning your wheels and going nowhere.
Every point of customer contact has an opportunity to add something of value. These contacts include marketing, advertising, truck signage, truck cleanliness, driver courtesy, ease of finding information about you, Web site, how quickly customer calls are answered, how customers are treated on the phone, and so on.
Let’s review how the customer might connect with your company up to and including the sales call and see what you can do to build their confidence…and trust.
Finding Your Company
As I’ve written before, it must be easy to find you. When your marketing includes tactics used by other professional companies — furnace stickers, your name in bold print in the white and yellow pages (nix the big display ads), a professional Web site, high placement in an Internet search, clean trucks with appealing signage and so on — you will earn points and trust for using these well-known strategies.
Contacting Your Company
Everyone agrees that having a pleaseant person answer the phone during normal business hours within three rings is the gold standard. Knowing that, you might think that every company would make sure that was how their incoming calls were handled. Unfortunatley it isn’t that common —so when it does happen customers are impressed. Many people will figure if they can’t get a fast, professional response when they want to buy something from your company, then you sure aren’t going to be easy to reach when they need you to solve a problem.
Implementing an after-hours phone service, complete with the professionalism you require, to take your calls will help you really stand out and instill trust. If such a service isn’t possible, make sure your after-hours voicemail message is pleasant sounding and quickly gives the customer the information they need.
Setting the Appointment
Last month’s article, The First Sale is the Appointment, covered this in detail. I’ve found that the appointment setting process is one of the least managed of all processes and procedures in companies. Think about it, any call could represent hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of dollars in sales and yet the person setting the appointment typically is not trained, coached or managed to do this well. I find this unbelievable. Give your appointment setter the tools and support they need to be effective and successful. Even a service call could have replacement sale potential. Click here to view Service Call Scenario.
Salesperson Confirms the Appointment
Should the salesperson contact the homeowner before the sales call? I’ve posed that question to hundreds of seminar participants and most have a clear position on the subject. The problem is that they don’t agree.
Those who say no to pre-call contact argue that some salespeople will prejudge customers, reschedule appointments or even scare customers with aggressive questions on the phone. Also, they say, some customers will cancel or postpone appointments for any number of reasons and they don’t want to give them that chance. All of those things may occur.
On the other hand, those who say yes to pre-calling make the case for “warming up” the customer, creating some initial rapport, discovering information that may help the salesperson prepare for the call, and setting an expectation for the length and process of the call. For all these reasons and more, I take this side of the argument. You can create something very positive with proper and professional pre-call contact. Make the call short and sweet…but make the call. It’s another way to create customer trust.
Driving To The Sales Call
How comfortable would you be if you knew that the pilot of the plane you are about to take off on decided to skip the preflight safety checklist? Probably not very comfortable. What if he missed something? The reason pilots perform preflight checks is to make sure that everything is working properly to ensure a safe flight and on-time arrival. All of us can take a lesson from this and should have our own version of a pre-sales-call checklist. This will include having all of your sales tools in your car and ready to go. And some of this will include your mental focus on how you have planned your sales call to go. On the way to the call get your head into the game and think through your version of the sales process that brings you great results. When you knock on the door you will feel confident because you are prepared. That confidence will be evident to the customer and help assure them they have found someone they can count on.
What if the last sales call didn’t go as well as you would have liked? Forget about it and focus on what delivers excellent results for your customers and for you. Remember, if your close rate is 50%, which would be outstanding, then for everyone who says “no” there is another one who says “yes.” Think positively and you will attract positive results. Your customer will sense this too.
First Impressions Count
Each of these well-known “moments of truth” will create a positive impression. Don’t skip any!
• Be on time — Call if you will be early, call if you are running late…just call!
• Park out front, not in the driveway;
• Clean car inside and out;
• Company sign on the car door;
• Be aware that customers and potential customers are looking out the window at you;
• Last minute personal check: clean hands, pop in a breath mint, etc.
• Wear a company photo ID;
• Collared company-logoed shirt and/ or jacket;
• Docker-style pants — no blue jeans;
• Wear floor savers even if the customer says it’s OK not to. Explain it’s a company policy;
• Knock…friends knock and strangers ring the bell;
• Step back a foot or two to give them space to see you and open the door;
• Put your best smile on and greet your new client!
Preparation Is Paramount
Big messages can come from small things. If you are searching for a pen, flipping over an envelope to write on, asking for your customer’s calculator you are not creating a professional image that assures your customers that you, or your company, can adequately take care of their heating and air-conditioning needs. Follow the Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared!
Here’s a suggested System Selling Sales Tool Kit of things you will find useful in completing an effective in home sales call:
• Business Cards: Always have two —one for each homeowner;
• Home Comfort Survey;
• Company Photo-Testimonial book;
• Company Presentation book;
• Best, Better, Good Proposal Form or software;
• Company-logoed proposal folder
• Cook Book (flat-rate) Pricing book;
• Company Performance Guarantees;
• Company Extended Warranty information;
• Company Planned Service Agreement;
• Company Referral Program brochure;
• Tape measure or electronic room measuring device;
• Load Calculation form or software;
• Copy of the company’s current promotion, direct mail or advertisement;
• Financing Information brochures and application paperwork;
• Demo samples: filter samples, insulated ductwork, registers, thermostat, and cross-broken sheet metal;
• Tissues or toilet paper for return air demo;
• Digital camera;
• Yard sign;
• Door hangers;
• Leave-Behind Brochures — just in case.
Meet and Greet…You’re Up
Someone once said it’s not the will to win that determines the winner, it’s the will to prepare that creates success. Everything that’s happened up to this point, including all of your preparation, has now set the stage for a successful sales call. When the door opens, have a smile on your face, offer a friendly greeting and introduce yourself with a handshake and a business card. Step inside when invited, floor savers on your shoes, and offer some appropriate ice-breaker comment. Pick something you’ve seen around the outside or just inside of the house, something you can appreciate, and comment on it. Make it sincere, have a minute’s chat about it, and get the sales call going.
Creating trust builds confidence and the bottom line.
Service Call Scenario
Equipping your dispatcher or receptionist with the proper tools may lead to bigger sales.
Homeowner: Hi. My heat won’t come on. Do you take care of problems like this?
Dispatcher/Receptionist: Oh, I’m sorry for your trouble. Of course we do. May I ask you a few questions to get us started?
Dispatcher/Receptionist: Can you tell me what’s happened?
Homeowner: The furnace was working just fine and then all of a sudden it stopped. I tried adjusting the thermostat and that didn’t work. I turned the switch on the side of the furnace on and off and that didn’t work. Other than that I don’t know.
Dispatcher/Receptionist: Well you’ve done as much as you can. We can have one of our service technicians out there tomorrow to look at it and tell you what’s wrong and what it would take to repair it.
Homeowner: Tomorrow? Can’t you come out sooner?
Dispatcher/Receptionist: I’m sorry but this cold weather has our technicians already working late into the night. We can get to you first thing in the morning. May I ask how old your furnace is?
Homeowner: I don’t know. It doesn’t look that old. It was here when we bought the house 10 years ago. Why do you ask?
Dispatcher/Receptionist: Well at some point, just like a car, furnaces and air conditioners start wearing out and need expensive repairs. Some of our customers decide to replace older systems with new ones that are much more energy efficient. New systems save money on utility costs and are much quieter, provide more comfort and come with a new warranty. Would you be interested in learning more about that?
Homeowner: I don’t know. A new system…it must be expensive…
Dispatcher/Receptionist: They really are more affordable than you might think. And the utility savings can help pay for it. I could have one of our comfort advisors come out to do a survey and show you some choices to consider. We could still keep your service call scheduled for tomorrow. Would you like to do that? Rick could be out there today at 4 p.m. or 6:30 p.m.. Would one of those times be good for you?
Homeowner: Well…I’d have to check with my husband first.
Dispatcher/Receptionist: Of course. Which time do you think you’d want and if you need to change it we can do that?
Homeowner: Make it 6:30.
So what happened here? Do you think the customer felt heard? I do. Do you think the dispatcher showed empathy and concern? Sure. And because the dispatcher had been trained to ask how old the system was and how to provide information about the benefits of a new system she was able to create a good sales lead out of a service call. Maybe the homeowner will invest in a new system or decide to just get the service, but in either case they were treated as a valued customer and will almost certainly call again.
Articles by Tom Piscitelli
Stop Bidding, Estimating, And Quoting
The most successful and most profitable hvac contractors don’t create success by being the lowest-priced job. They are among the highest; but they can show the customer why the extra money is worth the investment.
Creating Clients For Life
Customers who are not treated well at every turn become history; customers who value how they were treated and what they received for their money are your future clients, and represent your future income and success.
The First Sale Is The Appointment
As a service provider, setting the appointment is the first step in convincing the potential customer that you are the right choice. Get them to contact you with a customer-friendly, informational website. Make sure you have a friendly and informed receptionist to take calls and make appointments.
Creating Customer Trust
People want to buy from someone they trust. You can be the most knowledgeable hvacr person there is but if the customer doesn’t trust you they won’t buy from you.
Overcome, Conquer Sales Stereotypes
Find out how the customer thinks and feels about the buying process, about the problems they have, about the company who does the work…and then help them get what they want in a way that makes sense to them.