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Build a Strong Defense

Originally published
Originally published: 2/1/2019

Your behind the scenes employees are the true lynch pins of your organization.


As every great football manager and coach will tell you, there are two components a team needs to be truly successful, a strong defense and a strong offense. As a prospering and growing company, the needs aren’t much different on the road to success, you need a dependable and hard-working offense and a forward thinking and courteous defense.

Your offense is your onsite staff, your salesmen, technicians and installers. These are the men and women who work hard every day making the companies name memorable and stand out in the community and among your customers. They are the ones who are seen by the world and who should best represent what your goal is as a company.

Behind the Scenes

But it’s the behind the scenes people, your defensive line that is the lynch pin for your organization.

These are your owners, service managers, warehouse managers and staff who make up a good portion of a successful defense.

The MVP of the business most times, however, goes to the individuals who are seen the least but typically heard the most, and that is your office staff, your dispatchers, your administrative assistants and office mangers.

These are the men and women who are responsible for keeping the company moving smoothly no matter what.

Whether it’s ordering parts, answering the phones, scheduling work for the customer, tracking the day to day operations and paper trails or just simply keeping the peace in the office when the day is falling apart.

It is these individuals who are the most relied on and the ones who can make the biggest difference when it comes to your customer’s and their overall satisfaction.

Over the 18 years I’ve been in the working world, 11 have been in the Heating and Air Conditioning trade. Hired to simply answer phones and handle billing and payroll I quickly discovered some valuable tips and traits that have proven me well when dealing with customers, owners, technicians and employees.

While my lists of duties and responsibilities have multiplied over the year’s I still hold to the core basics I learned early on in my career. The list is simple and yet can make the biggest difference when dealing with those around you.

Always Answer the phone with a Smile

I’m sure there are some out there who are reading this and trying to figure out if I never see the customer’s face to face why does answering the phone with a smile matter. Trust me when I say that your customers can hear your smile.

Over the years I’ve been handling customer service, I have had many a customer who remarks on my smile even though they can’t see it.

With a smile on your face you automatically put joy in your words, which can almost immediately calm down an irate or disgruntled customer, uplift a sad or upset customer and put at ease a nervous customer.

With a smile on your face you set the tone for the entire experience, ultimately no matter what the purpose of the call it should always be a pleasant one. Of course I’m not always happy when I answer the phone, I too have stressful days, days when I’m sick, days when the work load just seems to be falling on top of me.

But every time I lift up that receiver I put a smile on my face and present my best to the person on the other end of the phone, which lifts me up as much as it lifts them up.

Opinions Matter

The customer may not always be right, but their opinions and issues ALWAYS matter. Over the years, teachers and speakers across the world have taught the philosophy that the “Customer is always right.”

And while I’m sure many of us would like to believe that this is the case, we all know it can be the furthest thing from truth, especially if you’ve ever intercepted a call where a customer has pushed the reset button on an oil furnace five or six times trying to get it to light.

There’s nothing worse than trying to politely tell the customer to please never do that again.

Thankfully, it’s been my experience that if you take the time to educate your customer’s you not only advance their thinking and actions, but you lessen the chance of needing to call the fire department for the oil bomb they’ve created in their system.

Or better yet the fun of talking down the customer who is expecting a house full of people for a party and either their AC or Heating system has failed, and they want you at their house NOW. It can be both difficult and challenging to deal with these types of situations especially if you know that the customer whose system has failed should have replaced the equipment years ago.

As the front line of the defense for the company it is not our job to tell the customer what they’ve done wrong, or how replacing their system three years ago would have saved them on the last-minute service call. No, as the front line, it is our job to be considerate, caring, concerned and ultimately compassionate about the customer’s situation.

Customer’s respond much better when you show you care about their problem rather than treating them as just another number dialed, or another call received for processing.

A Little Honey goes a Long Way

I learned early on that the age-old adage of “You catch more flies with honey then you do vinegar” was 100 percent accurate.

Whether dealing with that disgruntled customer whose part hasn’t arrived yet, or better yet has arrived and we aren’t scheduling it fast enough, to dealing with the supply warehouse that lost the part or forgot to ship it, learning to control your anger and your tone can make the world of difference in your day to day interactions.

I was once told by a fellow contractor that the moment they get yelled at or see the nasty side of a person the harder it is for them to believe the nicer side.

Once you have shown the dark, no one wants to believe the light. Have I been frustrated? Absolutely! Have I ever been angry? Of course!

Have I ever been so upset that I wanted to cry or scream? Sure, who hasn’t! But, not once have I ever let the person, I’m directly dealing with see that side. I learned that I can still smile and express my frustration, anger and disappointment for a situation and not tarnish the working relationship.

Leave them Feeling Satisfied

This is probably one of the hardest tips on the list to achieve every time, because as we all know there are some people who just will not be satisfied, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying.

When a customer contacts your office they are seeking a resolution to their situation. Whether it’s scheduling a service call, a sales call, or simply seeking advice for a situation or problem.

Your customers turn to you as their HVACR contractor to help them feel comfortable and secure about their system.

I’ve made it a mission over the years to collect as much information as I can about this industry for the express purpose of helping our customers when they are in need.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that if I don’t know the answer, I can always find it out. Nothing matters more to a customer than follow-through and doing what you say you will do.

Telling a customer that you don’t know the answer right now is not the end of the world, but not giving yourself or the customer the opportunity to find the answer that can make a difference between a satisfied customer or an unsatisfied one.

These are just a few tips that I’ve discovered that can make the biggest difference in your customer interaction.

Integration of these steps with your traditional training practices will help further even the most veteran office staff and your team. And you will be impressed at how quickly your customer satisfaction scores will rise.


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Build a Strong Defense

Your behind the scenes employees are the true lynch pins of your organization.