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Elevate Your Customer Experience

Originally published: 07.01.15 by Terry Tanker

The summer months are usually the busiest for contractors. And, it's a great time for your company to interact with prospects and customers. How that interaction happens is really important.

Collectively, I'm referring to customer service & whether it's your receptionist, a sales person calling a new prospect or one of your service technicians out on a call.

To be honest, the bar is set pretty low. Which & fortunately or unfortunately & means being average makes you look good and being great makes people talk to their friends about your company.

Recently, I've been paying attention to just how sub-par organizations are when it comes to customer service. I travel a lot, so I'm no stranger to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. The customer experience at most airlines, to put it nicely, isn't good. Tickets are expensive, the check-in process stinks, security & well what can I say & and the seats seem to get smaller as Americans get larger. Luckily, the hotel and car rental experience is much better than the aforementioned.

Being on the road means I eat at my fair share of restaurants. Customer service ranges from over the top to making me turn and walk out the

front door. And, don't slight that ill-mannered waiter & he's still expecting his 20 percent.

What about your local grocery store? Probably not so good there either, as you have three options at

check-out: the painfully shy high school student, the 20-year check-out veteran with an attitude or self check out (I really hate the self check out option and refuse to use it).

Have you been to a big box retailer recently? Pick any you're familiar with and you've got a 50-50 chance of dealing with Ms. Sweetie Pie or Ms. Lemon Face. One can absolutely make your day, while the other will have you muttering as you leave the store.

All I'm trying to illustrate is that your customers (and you) are routinely exposed to poor customer service. Customer service is an "every employee" thing and business owners who understand the value of great customer service set their companies apart.

It all starts with the person answering your phone.

A friend of mine owns a tech company and about 10 years ago I met his receptionist, Michelle. She has a unique title & Director of First Impressions. It's a great title and it shows the importance this company puts on front-line interaction with everyone who calls.

After getting to know Michelle, I believe she's a natural & a great phone voice, super personality and the knowledge to either help you or get you to another person who will.

If you don't have a "natural" as your director of first impressions, it's okay. From all I've read the last several years, these skills can be coached and improved upon.

Of course, as I mentioned before, it's not just the person answering the phone & it's up to every person who has contact with customers and prospects to ensure a good experience.

I found a great post on Help Scout written by Gregory Ciotti titled "15 Customer Skills that Every Employee Needs." I'll list them here, and I encourage you to read the entire post on Help Scout.

  1. Patience
  2. Attentiveness
  3. Clear Communication Skills
  4. Knowledge of the Product
  5. Ability to Use Positive Language
  6. Acting Skills
  7. Time Management Skills
  8. Ability to Read Customers
  9. A Calming Presence
  10. Goal Oriented Focus
  11. Ability to Handle Surprises
  12. Tenacity
  13. Persuasion Skills
  14. Closing Ability
  15. Willingness to Learn

A lot of you do a good job, and getting to the next level is difficult & but it'll help your business grow if you do.


About Terry Tanker

Terry Tanker

Terry is the owner of JFT Properties LLC and publisher of HVACR Business magazine. He has more than 25 years of experience in the advertising and publishing industries. He began his career with a business-to-business advertising agency. Prior to forming JFT Properties LLC in January 2006, he spent 20 years with a large national publishing and media firm where he was the publisher of several titles in the mechanical systems marketplace.

In addition to his experience in advertising and publishing, Terry has worked closely with numerous industry-related associations over the years including AHRI, NATE and ABMA. 

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