How to Improve the Service Quality of Your Appliance Repair Business
People think of a home as being made of walls and a roof but a modern residence needs a lot more than just the structure to be comfortable and welcoming. Most of us don’t realize just how important appliances like the water heater, HVAC, stove, or washing machine are to us until one of them breaks and the entire home routine is thrown out of balance. In terms of some of the more vital appliances, a home can become practically unlivable until appliance repair is enacted.
So it’s only natural that people who call an appliance repair service tend to be just a little frantic. They never imagined what it would be like to live without a water heater until suddenly freezing showers are their only option. But as vital as your service is, the only way to stay competitive in a busy industry is to make sure not only that your repairs are solid, but also that your customers feel satisfied at the end of your business together. If you’re looking for ways to gain that competitive edge with your appliance repair service, build your customer base, and encourage repeat customers to return when something else needs repairs, the key is to make your customers happy and assure them of your expertise over the course of your repair tasks in their home.
Depending on the personality of the customer and the situation at hand, this can be easy or difficult. Some customers are harder to please than others, and some appliances are harder to fix, but with the right attitude and preparation, you should be able to leave most customers with a smile and ready to call you again should they ever need more emergency appliance repairs. To help you boost your customer satisfaction and improve the quality of your service from top to bottom, here are a few helpful tips that can get you started down the path to superb customer service in the course of skilled technical repairs.
The first step to building a strong positive relationship with a customer is to be unmistakably professional. While some repair services allow their technicians to wear anything generally appropriate to work, sending someone to a customer’s home is different from hanging around a repair shop fixing toasters and microwaves that have been brought in. People are usually a little nervous about letting a stranger into their home, especially into the inner recesses where appliances like the laundry machines, HVAC, or water heater are stored.
Uniforms, tidy hair, and organized toolkits are incredibly reassuring for a worried customer. The uniforms, in particular, signify that your technicians are there for exactly one purpose, to fix their appliances. They haven’t arrived to hang out wasting time or to ‘case the joint’. They are wearing the company name, driving a company truck to do a company job. This puts everyone in the right mindset for a good customer-technician interaction and to start a positive customer-company relationship.
Start with an Inspection
Listen to the customer when they describe the problems they’ve been having with their appliance. Take note of any stories about signs and symptoms that might not be evident in the state the appliance is in today. If the machine is completely down when you arrive, the customer’s story could tell you what kinds of behavior were being displayed before the break which can reveal what’s wrong with it and why it failed.
However, don’t just take the customer’s word for what’s going on. They can give you a roster of symptoms and their inexpert theories as to what might be happening, but you are the actual expert and your observations may be able to reveal clues that the customer would not have picked up. There may also be signs of completely different concerns that will become problems if you fix just what broke this time and leave the rest alone. For these reasons, always start your service with an inspection. Give the customer your full assessment of the state of the machine and then offer your recommendations on how to go through with minimum repairs, complete repairs, and their options in between.
Honor and Take Advantage of Active Warranties
Some appliances you are called in to repair will still be under some kind of manufacturer or retail warranty. After your inspection, your first job is to figure out if there is a warranty, what it covers, how to call it in, and if you can dodge voiding the warranty by enacting your own repairs. All of these factors are going to come into play when deciding what repairs to do for the appliance and how to do them.
If there is a warranty but it’s practically useless or nearly impossible to call in, advise your customer and ask their permission to void it by providing useful repairs. If there is a repair warranty in place, ask your client if they’d rather go through those channels to get free or discounted repairs. In the vast majority of cases, the client will prefer to get accessible repairs from you instead of jumping through hoops for a warranty they had forgotten about. However, if it’s possible, try to enact repairs without voiding any existing warranties.
Use the Scotty Rule When Giving Time Estimates
When estimating how long it will take to repair an appliance, especially if the fix will take longer than 15 minutes, always give yourself some breathing space just in case things don’t go as planned. Accurate time estimates are important, but so is not disappointing a customer if it takes longer than expected. The Scotty Rule for technician time estimates originates from the first Star Trek series. The chief engineer Scotty had a policy of always doubling or even tripling his true estimate so that there would be plenty of time for unexpected complications and so he’d look like a genius coming in under time. While doubling may be extreme, a little time padding is just good practice. If you want to, be honest with your client and give both your short estimate and your ‘just in case’ estimate at the same time.
Break Down Cost Estimates By Item
When you give a rough cost estimate, you’re calculating for parts, time and labor, and any additional expenses based on the repair circumstances and may be inclined to simply quote a lump sum. However, you and the customer see costs differently and they might choose to make a few creative decisions based on how they can get the most value from your services. Remember that repairs are often an unexpected burden on the household budget. You can endear yourself to customers and likely get more work from them by being transparent with each expense. Break down your cost estimate item by item and put it in writing. Then work with the customer to find a solution they can afford that will leave them with functioning appliances and at least a few more months to save up for more extensive repairs if necessary.
Set Check-In Points to Keep the Customer In the Loop
For repairs that may take several hours to several days, your customer will need to leave you alone with the appliance but will still want to be kept in the loop on progress. It’s an unfortunate truth that some repair services use these circumstances to take advantage of customers and take more time than necessary to inflate costs. Instead, the best way to make your customers happy and earn referrals is to set check-in points and work hard to come in under-time and under-budget.
Consider checking in with customers every hour or two so that they can see the progress you’re making and understand that you’re still hard at work. If you’re finishing efficiently and think you’ll come in early, share that once you’re sure to leave your customer in a good mood for the remainder of the repairs.
Explain Your Solutions
With the current DIY craze of looking things up on the internet and fixing home problems for yourself, repair companies can expect to face an increasing amount of frustration in their customers. The reason for this is because they probably tried to fix it themselves and failed or acknowledged that their own lack of experience was simply too dangerous to tamper with things like electric control panels. If you want to give your customers back some of that feeling of capability and control, explain what went wrong and what you’re doing to fix it. They want to understand their appliances and be responsible homeowners and hearing the explanation will help your customers feel involved in the solutions and more capable as owners of the appliance in question.
Offer Warranties for Your Work
Finally, if your business has the capacity to do so, we highly suggest that you offer warranties for your work. Guaranteeing your repairs is a great way to show your confidence in the quality of your work and prove to customers that you’re not just doing the equivalent of pouring sawdust into the gas tank. Scam artists don’t warranty their repairs, but professionals do. Plus, having a warranty with your repair service is a surefire way to invite customers to come back to your business for every one of their home appliance repair needs.
For more customer service tips for your home services industry, contact us today!