Do your CSRs make a great first impression with customers on every single call? Do they know their job expectations and how vital their role is to the success of your service business?
Every time the phone rings, that call—and the excellent customer service provided during the call—has the potential to grow and multiply your business, says Angie Snow, Principal Industry Advisor at ServiceTitan. And equipped with the right tools, support, and training, your CSRs can go way beyond just answering the phones, and actually help you maximize your company’s revenue.
“I am passionate about customer service. I know it can make a big impact for your business,” says Snow, who’s also an HVAC shop owner and coach at Go Time Success Group.
In a recent ServiceTitan webinar, this master of CSR and dispatching workflows outlines the steps it takes to turn your call center into a profit center, with details on:
Where to start
3 pillars of call center success
Call center KPIs/data
Making profit a priority
Success by design
Turn your call center into a profit center: Where to start
“You start with sharing your vision,” Snow says. And that means making sure everyone in your call center understands your company’s values, brand promise, overall strategy, roadmap for growth, and the value of every call.
“What is your revenue goal for the year?” Snow asks. “Do your CSRs know that? Are you transparent with revenue goals? Are you transparent with the amount of profit we should be making and how they even fit into that?”
Do CSRs know the roadmap? Not only the roadmap for your company's growth over the next few years, but a roadmap for their role as a CSR?
"What's next for me? After I'm a CSR, what does my career path look like? Could I potentially move into dispatch, or be a trainer and help other CSRs, or perhaps move into the role of a CSR manager? What are the opportunities?” she adds.
Finally, do your CSRs truly understand the value of each call? “This one is huge,” Snow says. “Do they understand how much money is being spent just to get the phone to ring? Think about how much money your company is spending on marketing.”
Every customer call has value, but sometimes you need to dig a little deeper to find it. Take, for instance, a recent training session Snow had with a CSR who was struggling to increase her booking rate. After listening to her call recordings, Snow discovered the CSR immediately told one caller the company was booked up for the day when he asked about service for an AC with leaking refrigerant.
“She said, ‘No, not today. We're completely booked today. Sorry about that.’ And he's like, ‘So nothing today?’ And she's like, ‘Nope.’ And he's like, ‘Okay. Well, thank you very much,’ and he hung up the phone. And that was the end of that call.
“Now, as a business owner, calls like that make me sick,” Snow says, explaining how she has no idea who the customer was because the CSR didn’t even attempt to book the call.
“Maybe they were one of my VIP customers. Maybe it was my brother, the owner's brother, or the mayor of our city. Maybe it was someone with a lot of influence who has a lot of very well-off friends that could use our company, too,” Snow says. “And knowing it was an AC leak, it could have been a potential $20,000 job the next day for my install team.”
CSRs and dispatchers need to understand that every single call that comes in has the potential to be something really big, and you want those marketing dollars (part of your operational costs) to make a real difference.
“If you can reduce this cost [marketing] by increasing your booking rate, and booking calls that are worth the most value, that’s going to be huge. But if the marketing budget is spending money generating leads, and we’re not booking calls, we're wasting our money,” Snow says. “The call center plays a big part in the overall picture.”
Make sure your CSRs know the value of every call, and the influence they have to help you maximize revenue and increase your bottom line.
“This makes their job a lot more important than just someone who answers the phone,” Snow says. “This is where to start, to help your CSRs see the value of each and every call and drive that mindset.”
3 pillars of call center success
“If you want to make your call center a profit center, these are three things you should focus on as a call-center manager or service business owner,” Snow says.
1. Established goals/KPIs
As you evaluate call center performance, Snow advises setting established goals and measuring progress by tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), such as:
Number of calls
% of classified leads
Call booking rates
Length of the call
For the number of calls, set a goal of 100-120 calls per day, per CSR, Snow says. And if your business isn’t getting that many inbound calls each day, train your team to make outbound calls to make up the difference.
“That is a great KPI for companies,” Snow says. “As I visited several of our customers around the country, I've seen some at 100, some at 120, but this is about the range.”
Another important KPI is the percentage of calls classified as leads by your CSRs. Strive for at least 30% of all calls to be classified as potential leads. Other calls might be customers calling to pay a bill or ask a question, vendors calling to replenish supplies, or even other contractors.
Most importantly, keep your reasons for classifying calls as leads simple, she says.
“If you don't have availability in the calendar, that's still a lead. If they didn't like the price or they just wanted a price over the phone, that's still a lead. So, make sure you're very clear with what's a lead and what's not a lead, so these calls can be classified accurately.”
Your target for call booking rates needs to be 80% or above, or 4 out of every 5 calls booked, Snow says.
“I always preach higher, but 80% is my line. If you're below 80, you need coaching, you need training, we need to listen to your calls, and we need to figure out why you're not booking at least 4 out of 5 calls,” Snow says.
Surprisingly, a recent survey found the average call booking rate of all ServiceTitan users to be only 42%.
“That is not a good number,” Snow says. “Calls that are only booking 42%, they're wasting marketing funds there.”
Digging a bit deeper, Snow found that call booking rates were lower for smaller companies with fewer than five techs, but tended to increase as the company grew and added technicians. Call booking rates also varied for each trade.
In addition to the size of your company, call booking rates varied by the time of day, with 9 a.m. to noon identified as the time period with the highest booking rates, Snow says.
“I think this is important information and data to know as you're running a call center, so you can make sure you're fully staffed at those times, have a good idea of what your schedule looks like, and you're prepared for the amount of calls coming in,” she adds.
Finally, the length of the call should last anywhere from two to four minutes. Anything less than two minutes means the CSR failed to make a connection with the customer or didn’t gather enough information to schedule the job.
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Other KPIs to consider:
In ServiceTitan, contractors can customize their own Call Center Performance by CSR report on a weekly or monthly basis to identify trends and make adjustments.
Snow customizes her Call Center Performance by CSR report to show:
How many calls were taken
How many calls were leads
How many calls were booked (inbound or manual)
Completed revenue from jobs booked
“How fun is it for a CSR to go back and see, ‘Wow, because I booked these calls, I generated almost $20,000 of revenue last week. That's pretty awesome!’” Snow says. “CSRs like to know how they are impacting the bottom line, how they're contributing.”
Dispatchers also play a big part in helping companies increase profitability, and the ServiceTitan Dispatcher Performance report can help you track the efficiency of your dispatchers.
“With the Dispatcher Performance report, you can see: How many jobs did they dispatch? What was the average distance between calls? Were the technicians actually on time?” Snow explains. “That helps us know if we’re managing our board correctly, so our techs are not always late or showing up at the end of the call appointment.”
>>Need help creating your own customized dashboard of KPI reporting? Check out the ServiceTitan Community for tips.
2. Customer-focused call center
How do we keep our call centers completely focused on our customers? Snow says Gabe Larsen of Kustomer, and podcast host of Customer Service Secrets, identified the following top six answers to that burning question of “What do customers want?”
Empathetic service: Customers want to talk to someone who cares.
Personalized service: Customers want to feel like they matter, and they’re not just a number or another call on your dispatch board.
Quick service: They want service as soon as possible, and they want it to be easy.
Flexible policies: Empower CSRs to know when they can bend the rules a bit to cater to the customer.
Proactive reach-out: Customers want you to reach out proactively, because it shows you care.
Omnichannel support: Customers want you to meet them where they are, whether it’s through easy online booking from your website or communicating via text or email.
“For so long, we've been preaching, ‘If you want to increase your customer service, make sure you're delighting your customer, and doing all of those above-and-beyond extra things,’” Snow says. “You should definitely keep doing those things, but we're finding that making it easy for customers is almost more important than delighting them.”
How easy is it for customers to book a call? When they call in for support, how easy is it for you to resolve their problem?
“If you’re making it difficult for them to get help, all that goodwill is lost,” Snow says.
With ServiceTitan’s Phones Pro, you can automate customer notifications, know the customer’s complete job history from the moment they call, and give your CSRs the tools they need to drive higher booking rates.
ServiceTitan recently acquired Schedule Engine, a comprehensive software solution that streamlines the scheduling process for home services, with automated online scheduling and 24/7 live chat and voice support with industry-trained professionals.
3. Make Profit a Priority
“Here are some easy things your CSRs can do to help them operate with a sales mindset to help bring more profit to your company,” Snow says.
Set expectations with the customer while on the call. Give customers a heads up that your technicians may show them a few options for repair or replacement, as well as discuss your membership service program for future maintenance needs.
Continue to plant seeds with additional upgrades. If you learn the customer’s son has asthma, tell them to ask your tech about installing an air-purifying product. If they report a clog in the bathtub drain, make sure they ask the tech to check all of the drains for possible backups.
Prepare for the price question. Rather than freeze at the first mention of “cost” on a call, train your CSRs to welcome the price question. They can respond with, “Yes, I would be happy to help you with the price for that. Can you just tell me a little bit more about this situation? I need more information to give you the right pricing."
Make follow-up calls. Open estimates, membership upsells, recurring services. Remember, customers love it when you reach out to them proactively. Do not be afraid of outbound calling or outbound texting.
Dispatching is another big area where call centers can increase their profit. Snow says the two most important things dispatchers need to know are: 1) how to get the right technician on the right call and 2) how to make the most of those high-value opportunities.
When booking a call, CSRs and dispatchers must gather the right information by asking:
Age of equipment/home?
What is the issue?
How long have you had this issue?
What have you tried?
Can I verify your customer information and service area?
How soon are you hoping to get help?
To sum it all up, Snow says to be intentional when investing in your call center. Consider resources for training, coaching, reliable equipment, and software to automate as many of your business processes as possible. Then, create a playbook for your CSRs and dispatchers to follow, using all of the information above.
“Make this a great playbook that every CSR can access, whether it's in a Google Doc or another format,” Snow says. “There are a lot of ways to do this. But set them up for success.”
>>Ready to explore online booking for your service business? Book a demo with Schedule Engine today!
>>Need to improve your call booking efficiency? Check out Phones Pro.
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and substantially elevate the trajectory of their business. Our comprehensive, cloud-based platform is used by thousands of electrical, HVAC, plumbing, garage door, and chimney sweep shops across the country—and has increased their revenue by an average of 25% in just their first year with us.