As someone who worked his fair share of retail jobs in high school and college, I never did agree much with the adage that the customer is always right. Of course, as a consumer, I appreciate that courtesy when it’s extended to me.
While the customer may not always be right, the sad truth is, the customer wants what the customer wants.
I’m sure you’ve run into this many times: A customer calls you because they want a new air conditioner or furnace, and they’re not looking to be sold on anything other than that. Their mind has already been made up.
Customers are better informed than ever when it comes to making purchases. And you may have even come across one who is so bold as to tell you exactly what specific piece of equipment they want you to sell them.
Because there is so much readily available information, consumers often think they can learn on their own about what it is they believe they need. What’s troubling is, there’s little difference between marketing materials and educational materials, so it’s not difficult to see why so many consumers come to the wrong conclusions when it comes to their individual comfort needs.
It’s easy for an average consumer to buy into the hype of a well-written, catchy marketing piece that extols the benefits of a particular piece of equipment, which just so happens to address all of the perceived problems they happen to have.
HVACR is your business — you have devoted your life to this industry and, with it, knowing everything there is to know about it. So, who better than you to decide the best solution to a heating or cooling problem? Certainly not the consumer.
Dealing with customers who are seemingly difficult, because they have a sense of entitlement of “always being right” and “know all about the products they want” can be tricky.
The companies who excel at customer service are the ones who navigate this situation with ease; walking a fine line between listening to customer concerns while still educating them on the best possible solutions.
I read an article in Forbes recently that summed up the notion of why it’s important to educate your customers, rather than to market to them.
Creating or expanding business relationships is not about selling — it’s about establishing trust, rapport and value creation without selling. Call me crazy, but I don’t want to talk to someone who wants to manage my account, develop my business or engineer my sale. I want to communicate with someone who desires to fulfill my needs or solve my problems.
You see, customers simply want to be heard and to feel like they’re a part of the decision-making process. It’s your job to provide them with enough expertise to make a wise decision when it comes to their comfort choices — don’t leave it to someone else, least of all the Internet.
Every company in the world needs to prove their products are necessary, rather than demanding that customers believe it to be so.
The alternative is either telling your customer what they want is wrong (which will turn them off) or giving in to what they think they need (which may not be the best solution).
Neither of those two choices will do you, or them, any good in the long run.
It’s not about you, your company, your products or your services. It’s about meeting customer needs and adding value. When you start paying more attention to your customer needs than your revenue needs, you’ll find you no longer have a revenue problem to complain about.
Customer service isn’t selling; it’s leading a person up to a point where they make their own conclusion based off the information you’ve given them. And it’s not manipulative either — don’t simply provide only information that will lead to a higher sale. Give your customer useful, factual information that allows them to weigh the pros and cons for themselves.
If there’s a starting point when it comes to educating your customers, it’s probably this: Believe in your product. But more than that, make sure you know how to express that belief.
Indeed. As I said before, you know this business better than anyone, so you’re most qualified to educate your customers. Let your knowledge and your passion for this business shine, and your customers will trust you and rely on you to guide them to the right decision.