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Communication Is the Fuel on Which Customer Service Runs

Communication Is the Fuel on Which Customer Service Runs

Written by Editorial Team on . Posted in Contractor Answering Services

We consider ourselves as much a customer service provider as a live answering service. With that said, we are always looking for ways to illustrate how fielding calls contributes to the customer service experience. We have come up with the perfect analogy: communication is the fuel on which customer service runs.

We might have a client relying on us for HVAC or plumbing answering service. Another client might be a property management company utilizing our answering service after hours. Regardless of the details, an answering service’s main priority is communicating with customers on behalf of their clients.

Similarly, both answering services and in-house customer service personnel may interact with customers via online chat or a ticketed support system. Just as with phone calls, chat and support systems have their foundation in communication. That communication is the fuel that drives the customer service experience.

Good Fuel Equals a Good Experience

If you are old enough to remember the transition from leaded gasoline to unleaded, you might also remember that poor quality fuel was a problem back then. If you put lousy fuel in the gas tank, your car wouldn’t run properly. Some people would pay extra to guarantee they were getting the best fuel.

Customer service works the same way. If your customer service personnel are poor communicators, the overall experience is going to be unpleasant for your customers. But if your staff communicates professionally and thoroughly, the customer service experience will be as good as it can be.

This is one of the most important points to consider if you are thinking about signing up with a live answering service. You need a service that prides itself on professionalism. You need a service that treats your customers the way you expect them to be treated.

Good Customer Service Is Timely

Good customer service is timely customer service. In other words, customers don’t want to make a phone call and be put on hold for 30 minutes. They do not want to send an email or support ticket and need to wait 24-36 hours for an answer. They expect customer service representatives to be available at all times.

Once again, communication is key. How quickly a company communicates with customers impacts the overall experience. When communication isn’t timely, customer service isn’t timely. Customers are turned off and the company’s brand suffers. On the other hand, customers enjoy a much better experience when their phone calls, emails, or support tickets are addressed promptly.

Don’t Follow the Bouncing Ball

Customer inquiries can be addressed promptly yet still lead to a bad customer experience. How? By continually passing customers off to someone else. This can happen when call-center personnel are not equipped to handle problems or answer questions.

Customers expect that their questions or problems will be addressed by knowledgeable representatives. They expect that a call center is staffed by people who know what they are doing. When that isn’t the case, they may feel like bouncing balls being passed from one department to another without ever getting satisfaction. That’s no way to take care of customers.

Whether a company utilizes in-house staff or outsources to a live call answering service, the people who answer the calls should possess the knowledge and authority to get things taken care of right then and there.

Answering phone calls and responding to digital communications is where customer service starts. Customer service is fueled by communication. Therefore, the customer service experience is better when communications are professional, timely, and productive. Communication is what drives customer service. Without it, customer service is dead in the water.

Why We Recommend Not Forwarding HVAC Calls to a Cell Phone

Why We Recommend Not Forwarding HVAC Calls to a Cell Phone

Written by Editorial Team on . Posted in Contractor Answering Services

Back in the day, having an HVAC answering service was critical to anyone running a heating and cooling business. There were no cell phones. So unless a contractor had a full-time receptionist in the office, it was either an answering service or voicemail. Today, a lot of contractors simply forward calls to their cell phones.

Forwarding to a cell phone is always an option. No argument there. However, it is an option we cannot recommend. You probably expect us to say that given that we offer HVAC answering services. But there are legitimate reasons above and beyond what we do. Those reasons impact an HVAC contractor’s ability to keep customers happy.

Cell Phones Aren’t Dependable

Despite cell phones being ubiquitous in the 21st century, they aren’t always dependable. You know from your own experience that getting five bars isn’t always a given. Even in the middle of a major city, any number of things can interfere with cell phone reception.

An HVAC contractor might find himself out of range. He might find himself working in a basement or utility room that, for one reason or another, interferes with cell phone reception. Here is the point: cell phones aren’t dependable if you want to be able to answer calls in real time. An HVAC contractor who relies on forwarding calls to a cell phone could be missing out on a ton of business.

Technicians Forget to Check

Forwarding after-hours calls to a tech’s cell phone can be risky business. Techs working after-hours can find themselves swamped with work because they are the only ones on call. And when techs get swamped, it is not hard to forget to check the cell phone.

How many customers are lost because cell phone messages are not checked in a timely manner? There is probably no good way to know that for sure. But even if it’s only a small number, every lost customer represents a lost opportunity to grow the business.

Calls Are Sometimes Ignored

Unfortunately, there is no escaping the fact that sometimes cell phones calls are ignored because HVAC techs don’t want the additional work. An HVAC answering service addresses that problem by answering calls immediately, documenting those calls, and providing accurate times. Contractors can then compare the data against what techs were doing when calls came in.

Call Screening Is More Difficult

Maybe you are an HVAC contractor who works alone. You have no techs helping you out. Well, there is another reason you might want to use an HVAC answering service rather than forwarding calls to your cell phone: the ability to screen incoming calls more effectively.

Not every call you get while on the job constitutes an emergency that needs to be dealt with right away. In the middle of an important job, you can send your calls to the answering service for screening. That way, you are not interrupted by things you can deal with more effectively later on.

It’s Just a Better Way

An HVAC company with a full-time office staff can handle incoming calls without much issue. In such a case, an HVAC answering service would probably be necessary only after hours. But for an individual contractor who works alone, having an answering service 24/7 is just a better way.

An answering service becomes the contractor’s receptionist. And the best services, like Apello, do more than just answer the phone and take messages. They become the contractor’s partner to ensure all calls are answered in a timely manner and the information is passed on to the contractor. That is the way to handle incoming calls.

The #1 Reason Contractors Should Use a Live Answering Service

The #1 Reason Contractors Should Use a Live Answering Service

Written by Editorial Team on . Posted in Contractor Answering Services

We expect doctors to make use of live answering services. Likewise for property management companies. Even real estate brokers, insurance brokers, and other similar professionals use answering services to take calls. What about contractors? Should they follow suit?

Live answering services can benefit contractors as much as doctors and insurance brokers. Truth be told, a lot of contractors already utilize services. Whether it is an HVAC answering service or one that answers calls for plumbers, electricians, or pest control services, it is not hard to find call centers willing to take the work.

If you are a contractor, do you use a live answering service? And if not, what is holding you back? Below is the number one reason you should reconsider your decision. We have included a few additional reasons after that.

The On-Demand Economy Rules

When you boil the argument in favor of a live answering service down to its most fundamental components, you are left with the number one reason for hiring a service: the on-demand economy rules. That’s really it.

Thirty years ago, it would have been unthinkable to call a plumber after hours for anything other than a legitimate emergency that genuinely threatened life or property. Everything else could wait until the morning. But that was a long time ago. Things are different today. Things are different because people are used to the on-demand economy.

The on-demand economy satisfies consumer needs in the moment. When people need something, they pull out their phones and get it. They get it by calling, texting, using apps, etc. The mechanism is less important than actually getting what they want, when they want it.

As a contractor, you cannot expect all your calls during regular business hours. If a customer needs you after hours, there is an expectation that you’ll be available. By hiring a live answering service, you can meet customer needs even when you are not actually on the clock.

There Are Other Reasons

Maybe you’re not sold on the on-demand economy. That’s fine. There are other legitimate reasons contractors use live answering services. One or more of them may apply to you. Here they are:

1. Better Customer Retention

Customer retention is likely to improve if customers know they can get a message to you 24/7. A live answering service makes you accessible, at least to some degree, even when you are not working. Customers appreciate that.

2. Increased Revenue

Not utilizing a live answering service inevitably leads to potential customers going elsewhere. If they cannot call in to at least make an appointment after hours, they will find another contractor. That will cost you revenue. On the other hand, utilizing a live answering service means increased revenue because you are keeping those customers happy.

3. Improved Efficiency

Live answering services do not necessarily have to be utilized only after-hours. You can have your service take your calls around the clock. During the day, you’re more efficient because you are not stopping to answer calls several times per hour. Greater efficiency means more jobs done and more happy customers.

4. Better Customer Service

Customers equate answering calls to good customer service. Even if a customer doesn’t speak with you directly, just being able to speak with a human being goes a long way. Impressions of customer service can improve when a contractor’s calls get answered by a real person.

The phone remains an important business tool for contractors. That being the case, hiring a live answering service to make sure all incoming calls are handled properly and in a timely manner sure pays off. Now you know why.

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