Proactive vs. Reactive Problem Solving
Originally published: 09.01.19 by Joel Frederick
Customers appreciate your quick ability to react to their problem, but what if you could solve them before they called?
In the air conditioning & heating business, the majority of our services are heavily tied to reactive problem solving. Whenever customers call us with a need, it is our job to react and solve.
More often than not, customers are coming to us in a time of crisis. When they reach out to us they’re usually looking for us to fix an immediate problem they are dealing with — the heating is out, a thermostat is broken, the AC won&rsuo;t start, etc.
In our industry, we are nearly always reacting to client problems as they arise and quickly solving a need.
The reactive method does please the customer and being able to efficiently solve reactive problems will earn your business a positive reputation. But what if you could solve problems before customers had to call you?
Or even, if you could anticipate issues before they even became aware of them. What if we could optimize our time in the field and, in turn, make our work more efficient? This proactive customer focus pleases the customers and can be very profitable.
So, what are some proactive things we can do to help our customers?
How can we reach out and anticipate needs instead of waiting for the phone to ring to help solve a reactive problem?
Setting up recurring check points in the customer’s service experience is key. Identify key time frames that would be ideal for your customer to hear from you again. Then set a plan to keep communication flowing.
A few days after service: Following up with a phone call after a service appointment can go a long way. It’s an unexpected touch point to verify that the service met their expectations.
If something needs to be corrected, this is the chance to make it right and keep this customer. If everything went well, this extra touch can help you leave a lasting positive impression.
3-6 months after service: A few months out, send out a friendly check in. This can be a phone call, email or mail piece. The goal for this touch point is to simply remind the customer that your company is there for them and to keep your business top of mind.
Annually: Often customers won’t need our services for a long period of time before they call us again. Consider sending an annual holiday card or spring-cleaning reminder. Just like your dentist sends check-up reminders, your business can send annual HVAC service reminders.
Social Media Presence
Use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to create an on-going relationship with your customer. Posting daily content that is either useful or entertaining will keep potential customers and return customers engaged with your brand.
Your customers will continue to build trust and reliance in your company’s expertise and you can use these social media channels to proactively recommend services.
Also use social media to educate your customers. By posting insightful content, we help alert them to signs to look out, teach them how to evaluate their system’s health and provide useful tips that they can use in between regular maintenance check-ups.
If you can educate the customer on base-level knowledge of how to care for their own units, we encourage better upkeep and possibly save ourselves some time in an emergency call down the road.
Reward Customer Loyalty
Loyalty programs reward customers and offer incentive to continue service with your business. Offering special discounts and deals to reward and thank long time customers allow for new opportunities for new business.
Proactively reach out with offers for services in between client appointments. Get ahead of the game by offering essential services, such as routine maintenance and other necessities, to encourage regular upkeep.
Not only does this create a positive relationship with the customer, as they are getting a discounted service, but also makes efficient use of your business’s time.
Fixing smaller issues that are caught and fixed during a regular maintenance call are easier and less time consuming than larger issues that could have been solved more simply.
Answer Common Questions
A great and easy way to please customers is by offering solutions to common questions in easy to find and easy to understand language on your website.
Providing the convenience of questions answered online relieves customers from having to email, call and search all over the internet to find the answer.
With information available that easily solves their issue we create a very convenient solution for our customers.
Going the extra step to even host webinars or blog posts detailing instructions for common do-it-yourself fixes.
Proactive customer service doesn’t just aid in keeping the customers you have pleased. By turning your customers into brand advocates, it becomes a marketing tool that drives new business.
Investing a little extra time and resources in a proactive customer service approach now is a valuable method that can lead to positive growth for your company.