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Are your CSRs in the right mindset to make a good first impression with customers?
If you want your CSRs to book more jobs and grow revenue for your home service company, you must do more than simply hand them a script and tell them to follow it.
“You’re not just a CSR,” Snow says. “As CSR, you are the voice of the company. You have a great impression to make for the company, and a lot of CSRs really have a hard time feeling confident in that position.”
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At one time, Snow included herself in that uncertain group. When Snow and her husband, Ryan, purchased Western Heating and Air Conditioning in 2007, they ran the business from their home with Angie answering the phones.
“I knew nothing about the HVAC industry and I was scared to death to answer the phone,” Snow recalls. “I don’t know how to answer customers’ questions. What do I do? I felt very underqualified to be a CSR.”
Her husband offered sound advice, which she still follows today.
“He just said, ‘Angie, your job is not to know everything technical about HVAC. That’s not your job. Your job is to book calls,’” she says.
That’s when everything clicked for Snow.
“I realized my job is to build a relationship with customers,” she explains. “My job is to get to know them, to find out what their needs are, and to really build that relationship so they trust us to come into their homes.”
I realized my job is to build a relationship with customers. My job is to get to know them, to find out what their needs are, and to really build that relationship so they trust us to come into their homes.”
Building good relationships with customers requires companies to fully invest in CSR training, just as they do with service and maintenance technicians.
“As business owners, we invest so much money in marketing to get the phone to ring, but if your CSRs are not capturing those calls and seizing those opportunities, you’re wasting your money,” Snow says.
“You really have to start with the CSRs, because they get the ball rolling for everybody else.”
In a recent ServiceTitan webinar, the CSR business coach breaks down the 4 Essential Steps to Helping CSRs Achieve a 95% Booking Rate:
Know your team.
Know your questions.
Know your schedule.
Know your customer.
1. Know your team
Do your CSRs book calls simply based on your team’s logistics for the day? If your CSRs don’t know the strengths and weaknesses of each tech at your company, you risk sending the wrong technician to the wrong job.
“That technician may not have the right training, the right tools, and the right background to really optimize on that call,” Snow explains. “As a dispatcher or CSR, you need to be a puzzle master. You’re putting pieces together in a puzzle to try to figure out the best schedule for your technicians, and which jobs would be the right job for the right tech.”
At Western, Snow created a 5-level system for CSRs and HVAC techs to follow when booking jobs for a customer:
Level 1: Maintenance call for equipment 1-4 years old
Level 2: Maintenance call for equipment, 5-9 years old
Level 3: Service call for equipment, 1-9 years old
Level 4: Maintenance call for equipment, 10 years or older
Level 5: Service call for equipment, 10 years or older
Based on the tech’s training, certifications, knowledge and expertise, Western assigns each to a specific level and the CSRs see their tech’s name and level clearly on the ServiceTitan dashboard.
“Then, they know which questions they need to ask to determine the right level,” Snow says. “It’s also a wonderful way to set up a career path for your technicians.”
To assess the strengths and weaknesses of the CSR team, Snow uses the DiSC profile assessment to better understand their personalities and behavioral styles. DiSC represents four behavior styles: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness.
Snow says CSRs who score a really high S or C tend to pay attention to details, which make them good at dispatching. CSRs who score a high I are great at outbound calling, as well as inbound calls.
“When it comes to the details, you leave it to more of the Cs, the Ss and some of the Ds, because they are a lot more careful with the details,” Snow says.
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2. Know your questions
Customers typically call your company to ask questions about price and how soon they can get service. Your CSRs will want to provide those answers right away.
Not so fast, Snow says.
“That’s what we do, we serve. But, that’s not what we should do,” Snow says. “You don’t just give an answer. What you need to do is find out more information first.”
At Western, the CSRs always ask the following five questions to garner the most information in the shortest amount of time:
1. What is the problem or issue?
How does the customer know it’s a faulty part? A flashing code on their HVAC unit could mean various things.
2. How long have you been experiencing this problem or issue?
If it’s something that’s been happening for two months, it’s not necessarily an urgent heating or air conditioning call.
3. How old is your equipment?
“The older the units, the higher level of technician I send, because those are the technicians who know all the extra things to look for,” Snow says.
4. Where is your equipment located?
Is it on the roof or in the attic? Is it located in the basement or garage? Sometimes, access restrictions also dictate which tech to send.
5. How many units or systems do you have?
Multiple units may require additional techs at different levels.
ServiceTitan’s field management software prompts the CSRs to ask and answer each of those questions in the summary box on the customer’s account, Snow says. They can always ask additional questions, but those top five questions create opportunities year-round.
3. Know your schedule
A CSR asks the right questions and gathers the right information to know which level of service or maintenance the customer requires. Now, it’s time to check the schedule.
Are they leaving the customer sitting, waiting, and listening to dead air? Don’t do that, Snow says.
“As a CSR, you should know the schedule. You really should know what your availability is and where you have openings, so the customer doesn’t have to wait,” she says. “Customers don’t like to wait.”
Know your openings for each level before the phone rings, so you can be more efficient and find a solution for the customer fast, Snow adds.
“We also created an urgency list, and I think a lot of companies do this,” Snow says. “For us, a priority call is a Level 5 … a piece of equipment that’s over 10 years old, it’s not working, there’s either no heat or cool on it.
“That is a prime call, because there’s obviously an opportunity to turn that call into a lead and a potential install for my team,” she says. “We want to make sure we book those and get those on the schedule.”
A Level 5 call may bump a Level 1 or 2 call to another day, but Snow’s team tactfully asks those customers to reschedule, usually by offering a small token of appreciation, such as throwing in extra HVAC filters.
“This is a thank you for being so flexible with our schedule, we really appreciate you,” Snow says. “I found that language of ‘thank you for understanding, thank you for being patient,’ customers are happy to do that.”
To prevent technician burnout during busy seasons, Western also implemented a 4-day, 10-hour work week with two shifts of technicians working either Monday through Thursday or Wednesday through Saturday. Then they alternate shifts every two weeks, so each tech gets a 5-day weekend once a month.
“It’s awesome, and they’ve loved it,” Snows says of Western’s techs. “They’re spending more time with their families, and they’re more engaged at work because they’re not burnt out.”
4. Know your customer
Who are your customers and what’s going to make them happy? A CSR’s job is to serve customers and find a way to connect on every call.
“What do they value the most? Do they value time? Do they value money? Do they value responsive service?” Snow says. “You can usually tell as soon as you start asking a couple of questions what they value the most.”
It’s also vital for your CSRs to manage their own emotions when speaking with an upset customer. For instance, a sweltering customer waiting on an A/C repair may not want to hear, “I understand how you feel,” if they think you’re sitting in a nice, cool office.
Instead, tell them: “Look, I know you’re hot. I know this is not what you wanted and you’re expecting someone sooner, and I’m going to do everything I can to get someone out there sooner. I just really want to thank you for your patience and thank you for understanding.”
Even if the customer isn’t being patient and understanding, they often respond positively to a calm CSR using this language.
“A lot of these CSR communication skills are so simple. It’s using ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ It’s thanking them for being patient. It’s thanking them for understanding,” Snow says.
CSRs also need to communicate on the same level as the customer, because the customer often does not understand the industry.
“They don’t understand what we’re facing with our schedule,” Snow says. “As a CSR, we have to go to that customer’s level of understanding…and create a path to help them see the resolution that we’re coming up with is actually the best resolution.”
Using ServiceTitan’s Phones Pro to improve CSR performance
Phones Pro, an add-on service offered by ServiceTitan, also helps to improve CSR performance by setting up personalized greetings for customers, skills-based agent routing, and sending coaching prompts to CSRs as they record a customer’s call.
“We can have those tips and tricks right there in front of the CSR, so it's just a seamless transition,” says Riley Dunning, a ServiceTitan growth product specialist who joined Snow on the webinar.
Phones Pro also offers:
Improved accuracy by ensuring every call is automatically connected to a job.
Agent Scorecards, improving insight to your best- and worst-performing CSRs.
Call insights to shed light on average call length, average hold time, number of inbound calls answered, and number of calls missed by CSRs.
More Q&A with Snow …
What’s the best CSR practice for customers who say, “Let me think about it”?
“We let them know that, ‘Hey, our schedule is filling up. Let’s save you a spot. If it doesn’t work out, you can call us back and let us know,” Snow says. “My CSRs do not get to use the word ‘cancel.’”
Do your CSRs offer time frames when booking jobs?
Western schedules calls from 8 to 10 a.m., 10 a.m. to noon, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the summertime.
How do you handle customers who only want a price and resist scheduling an in-person estimate?
Ask questions to understand why they only want a price for a specific part. Oftentimes, their answers lead to educating them about why it’s so important to let a trained technician diagnose their problem, Snow says.
What about customers who don’t want to pay the dispatch fee, if they decide they can’t afford the recommended work?
“This is one of those things you have to be careful of,” Snow says. “If you’ve got a client who is not willing to pay your service fee, then they’re going to be the client nickeling and dime-ing you on everything.”
It’s OK to fire customers, she says, but try to build value instead.
“If they think your $79 service fee is too high, they don’t see the value in it,” she says. Explain what’s included in it and why it’s important.
“I’m sending a technician who’s highly trained,” Snow says. “He’s certified, he’s background checked, and he’s coming to your home. He will be spending time using his knowledge, going through your complete system, diagnosing it, looking for all of those little things that only he will know how to do.
“You just have to build more value into it.”
Ready to find out how ServiceTitan Phones Pro can benefit your company? Book a demo today!