For many appliance repair businesses, it is literally a one-man shop. For some, it is the first time being on the front line of a service industry. Even if you have had some experience in repair before, you may have never had to have much more interaction with the customer than a quick hello, going over the job, and getting the invoice signed. If you plan to open your own shop, you will quickly learn that good customer service starts when you are wearing a different hat for the company… that being the customer service representative.
Basic Customer Service Representative Tips Every Small Business Owner Should Know
If you worked for another company but are now going out on your own, you likely received a work order with all the information you needed to make the service call. That information was obtained by the company’s CSR, or customer service representative. When you have your own shop, you wear that hat. Here are four basic pieces of information you will need to collect for every service call.
Step 1: Valid Model Number of Appliance to be Repaired
Sounds simple right? Well, you would be amazed at how often the wrong number is given or if the customer cannot locate the model number. Without the correct number, however, diagnosing the issue can be quite challenging, to say the least.
Become familiar with the location of the model number on all appliances. For instance, refrigerator model numbers are usually located on the inside wall of the fresh food section of the refrigerator…
Once the customer gives you the model number, do a quick online search to make sure the number is valid.
You can also have them take a picture of the tag and send it to you. Honestly, that may be the best approach to ensure you get all the correct information.
Step 2: Define the Problem
Discussing a problem with a customer can sometimes get frustrating, but remember, they are not repair technicians. Let me ask you a question… have you ever talked to your doctor over the phone about an illness or injury and you could hear the frustration in his or her voice as you are describing everything but the information they actually requested? It is the same principle here.
As an appliance repair expert, you will have to walk them through the process. Get a general description of the problem, such as “the dishwasher is making a squealing noise when it runs a cycle.” If they are describing a leak, try to get them to pinpoint the leak’s location as best as possible.
When they start going off on tangents, dial them back in with a simple question: What is the machine doing right now that it is not supposed to do? Just as a doctor would do during a visit, you are collecting symptoms of the issue.
Step 3: Rule Out Simple Issues
Sometimes the diagnosis is easy and does not even require a service call. You may lose the visit fee, but you will gain loyalty with that customer with a simple fix you were able to give them over the phone. That could generate a positive review on Google, which is gold in the local small business world.
As an example, a call comes in for a high-efficiency top-load washer. The clothes are not coming out clean and they cannot figure out what the issue is. The first thing to look at is the type of detergent they use. If they are not using a high-efficiency detergent, that is likely the problem.
Another common call is an appliance acting hokey after a major storm. Power surges can wreak havoc on electrical appliances just as you sometimes get on your phone or internet router after long uses. The same solution applies… pull the plug, give it a few minutes, plug it back in, and let it reboot.
With more experience, you will learn these quick fixes and you will be amazed at the loyalty they promote among your regular customers.
Step 4: Set Expectations
You want the customer armed with as much information as possible before you or your appliance repair technician visit the site. Let them know your pricing structure, especially if you have minimums or charge by the hour or quarter. Give them a reasonable expectation of how long the repair would take, but explain that it could take longer depending upon what the tech finds when they arrive on site.
Honesty is the best way to go from start to finish, which also means updating the customer on site as soon as you have diagnosed the problem and know how long it will take to fix. This would include if there are other repairs that need to be made. The last thing you want is “the look” when you give them the invoice. From the moment that phone rings, we are trying to generate a satisfied customer that will leave us a positive review and recommend our business to their friends.