Field Service Tips: The Customer is Always Right
“The Customer Is Always Right” is the number one rule of customer service, but this doesn’t mean that reality warps around customer opinions.
Many customer service representatives find themselves walking a fine line between sanity and customer satisfaction. Every field service pro needs a few tricks up their sleeve to not only get through the call but successfully schedule a realistic service.
Schedule the Work Order
If you don’t fully understand what a customer is asking for, or perhaps they don’t understand, your best bet is usually to send someone over. Perform a consultation, send an inspector, or open a new work order form and start taking notes. Here is the most important fact to maintain perspective: It is perfectly normal for customer to misunderstand their problem. They’re not experts, but you are.
If you don’t immediately understand what is wrong or what the customer is asking for, then start by determining the urgency of their call. If they can wait a few days, pencil them in for an inspection. If it’s an emergency, start your process for scheduling an express work order. The schedule will make sure that a customer will be checked on and will receive service even if they can’t explain their problem over the phone.
Get to the Source of Their Idea
Often, when a customer thinks or wants something unusual or unreasonable-sounding, there’s actually a pretty good reason behind it. In these cases, the bad idea is the result of creative thinking with very little knowledge based on real experience and what they really need is the same kind of treatment you might offer an intelligent child with ‘helpful’ ideas on how to do your job.
Let’s consider the person who wants their lawn cut with goats once a month. Yes, it’s completely laughable and of course, your landscaping business doesn’t keep a pen of goats, but you may be able to achieve the same level of satisfaction once you understand why the goats are desirable.
The reason may be that your wayward customer heard goats are the most eco-friendly way to landscape and was hoping to arrange it the quick-and-easy way with a yard service rather than buying and maintaining the goats themselves. Knowing this, you can now assure the client that while you don’t keep goats, you can promise to use electric-powered mowers, re-use their yard clippings as mulch, and provide an all-natural fertilizer instead.
Dealing With Rage
You do your best to remain calm, fight back the giggles, and offer helpful suggestions but sometimes a client is determined to be both wrong and angry at the same time. When it comes to calling for services, their rage may be based on the fact that they couldn’t solve the problem themselves, don’t actually know how to solve the problem but want to, or they are simply enraged by the whole situation.
Even if the customer actually yells at you over the phone, don’t take it personally. From emergency plumbing to pest control, angry customers should all be dealt with about the same way. Keep your voice calm and soothing and continue to make helpful suggestions without openly rejecting the ideas of your stormy client. They will either eventually get a hold on their emotions, see reason, and schedule service or give up and perhaps call back later when they’re feeling a little calmer and reasonable.
The Customer Is Always Right
No matter how ridiculous the suggestion or request or even the methods you use to solve the problem, tone of voice and phrasing are key to keeping your most unreasonable customers happy. Remember that the customer is doing their best, even if it seems crazy from your perspective. In some cases, they’ve put a lot of thought into their nutty idea and need to be let down gently while others will have put no thought into it but value being right over being correct. Never let it be you against the customer.
Instead, it’s you and the customer together against the limitations of your services and, sometimes, against the laws of reality that make their great idea impossible. Once you’re working with the customer as a team, the two of you can find a solution that your company can provide that will meet the client’s needs and customer satisfaction becomes possible.
When in Doubt, Send an Inspector
No matter how you decide to handle a customer, the field service industry has a few shared standards that can help you: Inspections, Consultations, and Estimations. If the customer doesn’t know what the problem is, you can send an inspector or consultant to give their expert opinion.
If you don’t understand what the customer wants, then insist on consultation before you can give a clear estimate of service costs. Or, more diplomatically, you can present it as a complimentary inspection before an estimate is available. Your customers don’t have to be able to describe their problems accurately to get help from your field service. All you need is a reliable work order scheduler.
Leave a Helpful Note
Finally, do your field technicians a favor and take careful notes on what the customer says. Even if you don’t understand what the customer is describing or asking for, make note of it anyway. Field technicians have the right to know what they’re walking in to and the notes might help them to prepare for whatever the client will expect when they arrive.
There is also a chance that whatever the customer said will make more sense to the field teams than it does to the dispatcher. Or that it will make sense after looking at the problem in person.
Learn More About “The Customer Is Always Right”
While it would be great if every customer were perfectly rational and friendly, dealing with customers who are wrong, confused, upset, and sometimes completely detached from reality is just another part of the job. Especially in the service industry where you are dealing with people’s homes and personal lives. No matter how crazy a client sounds over the phone, chat, or email, make sure you’re on their side finding a solution. For more helpful tips on customer service in the services industry, contact us today!