With the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak causing concern around the globe, small businesses face a challenge building trust with customers. For HVAC, plumbing, electrical and other home services companies who must enter a customer’s residence on service calls, that can be especially difficult.
Here are some tips for those in the trades for reassuring customers and keeping them, and technicians, safe.
An important note: If you communicate with customers by email, take special care not to sound predatory or alarmist in your messaging. In fact, an email about what you are doing to keep customers safe probably shouldn’t have any sales information at all.
1. Educate customers on the steps you are taking to keep them safe.
In short, let customers in on your plan. Make sure they know if they need repairs or maintenance that you are working to perform the work safely.
If your employees are working remotely to prevent spread, explain why that is part of the plan within your business.
Let them know you are requiring sick employees to stay home and not make service calls, and how your sick leave policy encourages them to do so.
Explain any extra steps you are taking to prevent taking germs into their house, from hand washing and sanitizer to special disposable clothing to masks or other precautions you’ll take. Whatever you’re doing, let them know.
Add a note to your confirmation text that technicians won’t be shaking hands to keep from spreading the virus.
If you run your business on mobile devices, clean them after each home visit, and explain to customers that you are doing so.
If invoices can be signed and balances paid by phone, those methods prevent the spread of germs and reduce the time technicians and customers have to spend together. Communicate the change, and the reason, to customers. A recorded line could make a telephone call a suitable payment and authorization option, too.
Explain your plan for having employees work remotely to prevent spread within your business.
2. Let customers know you are available for e-communication.
In the age of iPhone Facetime communication and streaming services such as Skype or Zoom, you don’t have to be present to help customers.
Encourage customers to use technology to report their problem. If you can fix it without a visit, it might not earn a fee, but the goodwill could be priceless.
If the problem requires a visit, you can explain why and reiterate the ways you will keep the customer safe.
3. Be mindful of how you approach customers.
From a customer service standpoint, the technician should figure out how to help the customer but still protect themselves. Just as you would ask them to be mindful of closing the gate to keep a pet inside, they should be aware of a customer’s health concerns.
If someone in the home is sick, take the necessary precautions and fix the problem safely, without saying or doing anything to harm your company’s reputation.
Don’t ask specifically if a customer has been diagnosed, Craig Elliott of Nice Heating & Air in Springfield, Va., says. Ask instead about the health of the house. Be careful not to make the customer “feel like they’re a leper or something, but being aware of the situation” is the best approach, he says.
Be careful that any marketing you do around Coronavirus is educational and doesn’t feel predatory. For example, Travis Ringe of Proskill Services near Phoenix, sent a marketing message to customers about air quality and the Coronavirus, explaining the benefits and availability of air purification systems, and secured a number of sales. He noted in his email the REME HALO technical advisory that says the unit has not been tested on COVID-19.
Spend as little time in a customer’s house as possible while still doing a thorough job and fixing the problem. That’s best for the health and peace of mind for all involved.
The bottom line
Remember that it’s natural for both your employees and your customers to be concerned about Coronavirus on the potential impact on them. The more you can do to reassure everyone that your company is taking necessary steps, the better.
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Contact our team to schedule a demo today.