Right now, there is a lot of confusion in the world. People don’t necessarily know which “experts” to trust or what to believe. More than anything, people want genuine expertise and to connect with other trustworthy humans. So, one of the best things you can do right now is to build a team of “in-home experts.”
Let’s get some clarity for you and your team regarding a topic that can greatly impact your sales, customer service and profitability: Being an expert in the home. Your customers don’t call to give you a detailed explanation of what specifically needs to be done; they might know what the symptoms are based on what is happening, but they don’t fully understand all of the potential solutions. They don’t call you because they know exactly what to do, what their best options are or how to execute the best plan for a solution. They call you because you are already an implied expert to them in your given field.
I use the term “implied expert” because, before the hands-on part of the service call, your technician hasn’t demonstrated their expertise to the customer yet. However, it is implied to the customer that the tech is an expert if they are showing up at their front door. It obviously takes more than this to earn the trust of your potential customer, which always needs to be built throughout the service call process. We must have earned their trust prior to delivering a quality options sheet or we’ll get turned down every single time, regardless of pricing.
A fine line
During the training we do with owners, managers and technicians, I’m always amazed by the difficulty some people have with being the “expert.” I can understand we don’t want to be arrogant, egotistical or come across as the “know-it-all” type of person.
However, our customers are calling us based on the simple fact we are experts in something they are not. We must continue to remind our front line team of this fact. Customers often talk to us like they know exactly what is wrong and exactly what they need, but the reality is they don’t know what’s best for them because they don’t know all the potential solutions available. A large part of what they are paying us for is expert advice.
There are four powerful words that can be incorporated into working with prospects and customers that immediately improve close rates and average tickets. These words are, “In my professional opinion.”
When I witness front line team members using this simple phrase, really good things happen. Customers invariably tune in and listen better. They become more engaged while discussing solutions, in turn becoming better educated to make a positive buying decision.
Be proud of your expertise
However, more often than not, I find technicians shy away from expert status (for different reasons). When I’m onsite with clients and riding with technicians, I see them undermine their expertise far more than they share and demonstrate it. Yes, it’s easy for your team to fix something. That’s because they’ve put in all the blood, sweat and tears to obtain expert status. Don’t shy away from this fact. Be proud of it, and share it effectively.
Many of our technicians have a challenge with the word salesperson; this isn’t anything new. The association that techs have with this term is actually improving across the country, but it’s still true that a few bad apples can spoil the whole bunch if we’re not strategically managing our own company culture. That’s an entirely different topic, so today, we’ll stick with the fact that we don’t promote ourselves as the expert nearly as much as our customers would like.
I see great things happen when technicians are confident enough to give their expert opinion when a customer asks for it. We also know that people, including customers, don’t always ask all the questions they may have regarding a specific situation. This is why it’s vitally important we share our expert opinion about what might be in their best interest. Of course, we share this only after we’ve asked the customer a multitude of questions about the situation and how their lives are affected by the problem at hand.
They’ve hired us to come into their home and make recommendations, educate them about their specific system as it relates to our products and services, and do so based on our expert opinion. We are actually penalizing them if we don’t share what our thoughts are concerning repairs and/or upgrades that might be necessary today or in the future. It’s just good quality communication!
You’re probably wondering, “But Kenny, if I position myself as an expert, does that mean I have to know everything?”
Of course not! I believe this is one area where technicians shortchange themselves on what they know because they certainly don’t know everything. How can you possibly know everything pertaining to all aspects of your primary trade? Your team certainly knows a lot, but they can’t possibly know everything. That’s okay; it’s about effort and finding the right information for the customer, even if we don’t currently have an answer at our disposal.
Customers are fine with this, as long as we communicate with them.
As an expert, answer questions directly from your perspective about what is best for the customer. A few years ago, I was on an HVAC maintenance call when a customer asked the technician what the average life span is for an air conditioner. The technician quickly answered, “Well it depends, but I was on a call yesterday that had a 30 year old unit that was working fine!” As I’m watching this unfold right before my eyes, I almost couldn’t believe it.
First of all, the customer didn’t ask about this technician’s calls from the previous day, he asked what the average life span is. We all know it’s not 30 years, and it was also not working just fine, especially if it were to be compared with one of today’s high efficiency units.
The technician made a judgment that the equipment was fine because he didn’t have to replace it. Was it fine for the customer based on their wants and needs? I don’t know because I wasn’t on that call with him, but I know these situations happen all the time.
Begin to improve your company culture and profitability by training your front line to understand the fact they are true experts. As your techs start to embrace this concept, their confidence will improve and they will provide your customers with the best options and service possible.
As we know, when our customers consistently receive exceptional service, great things happen all the way around. Remember, this is not a one-time conversation. You must constantly remind yourself and your team members: you are experts, and people want experts they can trust more than ever right now.