Survey your customers to improve their experience
If you don’t know what “Happy Calls” are, they are calls you make to your customers right after someone from your company has been to a home or business to do either service or install work.
Generally, these calls don’t get you the testimonials you should be seeking and need. Testimonials are critical to any effective sales and marketing programs. It takes great skill and training on how to get this information over the phone, type it up and either email it or send it out via snail mail, hoping that the potential testimonial and feedback actually comes back.
Even if you can’t really use what your customers say over the phone as a testimonial, these calls become just another step in the process. Also, if you call right after the work is done, customers may not be ready to testify how great your work is or how much they love your company.
Unfortunately, too many companies in a lot of industries use Happy Calls in a misguided attempt to verify what their technicians are doing in the field. The only true way to know what your techs are doing on the jobsite is to either ride along and observe for yourself, or create a mystery shopping program. Happy Calls are never a replacement for either of these two vital programs.
Many times these calls tend to catch working couples at inopportune times, so it’s more of an intrusion than a welcomed call.
If you can’t or won’t make these calls every time (especially in your busy season at the busiest times) with every customer, it’s actually worse to do them at all. You’ve trained your customers that you care … but not always, so it becomes a less-than-optimal experience for them.
Another way to go is to have either your techs or sales staff use a customer satisfaction survey with room for the customer to fill in his comments. I hope that your customers’ written comments are favorable since they’re the only things of value in your future sales and marketing efforts — once you’ve gained permission to use them, which should be asked for on the form itself.
You can ask for and capture a picture of a happy, smiling customer, which makes the testimonial come to life and moves it way up the power meter for what we want and desire as a sales and marketing tool.
One thing to consider is whether you believe your techs and salespeople will go through the customer satisfaction survey process consistently after every customer call they run.
They may not because if a tech or salesperson senses that the customer is not totally happy with him and/or the work he’s done, he may skip this step because the customer likely will give him low marks and bad feedback. You’d probably do the same.
A way around this is to make it a habit to either email customers (customer email addresses are a must these days) or send them snail mail after every call your company completes. It makes it easy to have your customers give you their feedback on their schedule and not yours. If you receive good comments (and I hope you do), you’ll want to arrange permission to stop back and check things over so you have a chance to convince them to also let you take a picture to go with their testimonial.
Now, there are some great online companies that make it easy for your customers to provide a review. You lose some control but it really can help with improving your search engine optimization. Many of my clients are employing this strategy today and are loving it for tech-type reviews. They still follow my advice about big ticket sales being best handled by the salesperson returning to verify everything is as it was promised and that the customer is truly happy.
This return visit is mentioned by the salesperson during the initial sales call. It actually works well. I have trained salespeople to say, “Mr. Levi, I’m going to make you so happy you chose our company that I will personally be back two weeks after the work is done to make sure everything works as I promised. It’s my hope that you, too, will be happy to give a testimonial and photo similar to the ones I showed you from other customers who had this work done by us.”
Pictures ramp up the effectiveness of any testimonial you’ll ever get because your potential customers more easily identify with your existing happy customers.
Knowing what you know now, you still think you can avoid the pitfalls and shortcomings of Happy Calls? If so, here’s a basic call process you can customize.
CSR: “Hi, it’s Al from Appleseed Plumbing, Heating and Cooling and I’m just calling to ask a few questions about the work we recently completed. Is now a good time to spend five minutes on the phone?”
If the customer says “no,” say thank-you and encourage him to fill out the customer satisfaction survey you will be sending him.
If he says “yes,” choose three to five questions from the list below or customize it to better fit what you do and what you want to verify. Remember, it’s your customers’ comments that mean the most.
- Was your phone call handled in an efficient and courteous manner?
- Did our technician arrive on time?
- Did our technician wear shoe covers?
- Was the technician courteous and professional?
- Was the job done in a timely and professional manner?
- Overall were you pleased with the service (or installation) work performed?
- Would you use our company again?
- Do you have any additional comments?
The funny thing about surveying your customers — whether it’s through Happy Calls or customer satisfaction surveys — is that they tend to give you higher marks than you would have thought possible. And if they’re not as good as you’d like, you can begin to formulate how to improve the level of service and value you’re providing your customers today. Either way, you will be better off for having surveyed them.
This article was originally titled “To ‘Happy Call’ or not” in the December 2015 print edition of Plumbing & Mechanical.