What’s the biggest secret to generating more revenue and more profit for your HVACR distribution company? Sure you can spend more on marketing, sure you can speed things up with better technology and operations, but I believe the best way to grow your business is through better service. Build extremely strong relationships with your customers and serve them at the highest level so they come back and buy from you, again and again.
The problem is, many companies think they’re giving good service when they’re really not. There’s a very common mistake businesses make about service — they assume that by treating the customer professionally and having an accurate order, and maybe even remembering the customer’s name, that they are giving good service. And if your HVACR distribution company does that, perhaps you’re still frustrated when your customers go somewhere else.
However, the level of service that many companies label as “good” includes things such as being professional, having an accurate order, charging a fair price and remembering the customer’s name. In other words, everyone is doing that. It’s not really “good” customer service. It’s the industry standard, the baseline, the bare minimum. If you want to serve your customer better than your competition, you have to do far more. You have to wow your customer.
I always say you have to shock your customer with service that is so unbelievably amazing that they can’t believe they got it from an HVACR distribution company because it’s more like what they’d get from a high-end restaurant. Does your service shock and wow your customers?
If you want to push your service to a higher level, you need a tool to help you find ways to make your service better. That tool is the Framework for Service.
The Framework for Service
This is a recipe that all your employees follow with every customer, every single time. It’s a step-by-step methodology that is quite different than the vague customer service instructions most companies give to their employees on the first day of work.
Many companies instruct their employees to give good service by simply saying things like, “be professional,” and “smile at the customer,” or “double-check the order before creating an invoice,” etc. These vague instructions are meant to apply throughout the interaction with the customer and the employee is left to figure everything else out.
A better approach is the step-by-step recipe method that guides your employees, minute-by-minute through every interaction with the customer.
It should start as soon as your customers place an order and go through the entire process up to the point where you deliver the order to your customer’s office and unload it (or whatever your specific process is).
A Framework for Service might look like this (although yours might be slightly different depending on how you deliver your service):
1. The customer calls the office to place an order.
• The representative who answers will thank the customer for calling and ask for the caller’s name.
• The rep will take the order over the phone, repeating back each item the customer asked for.
• The rep will make two recommendations of things that the customer may want. For example, “Customers who order X often also need Y.”
• The rep will review the order right away, checking for the following information: quantity, items and price. If any item is out of stock, the rep will recommend a different item.
• When the customer confirms the order, the rep will thank the customer and provide the date of delivery.
• The rep will confirm the delivery address.
2. The rep prints the order and hands it to an inventory specialist.
• The inventory specialist will review the order.
• The inventory specialist will begin putting together the order in the most efficient manner possible.
• Upon completion, the inventory specialist will double-check the order.
This is a short example. Of course you’ll have more steps and actions in yours.
What to Do With Your Framework for Service
Once it’s written all out, review your framework to find ways that you can improve it. For example, perhaps the inventory specialist might put a little something extra into the order as a surprise bonus. Or maybe if you put the order together on a different day than the day when the customer called in, perhaps the inventory specialist can make a courtesy call to the customer to let them know that they are starting on the customer’s order right now.
Train your employees to follow the Framework for Service. Make it the central document that describes the interactivity between them and the customer.
The Framework for Service is also a checklist — a way for your employees to make sure that they are doing everything they need to be doing, checking off the steps they conducted. And if they ever get accidentally moved off the framework when interacting with the customer (for example, with a really conversational customer), then they can pull the conversation back to the framework and make sure they have covered everything.
Review your framework at least once a year, adding new ways to serve your customers and making sure that you are wowing them at every step.
Most businesses will tell you that customer service is an important part of every business; however, most businesses don’t really give anything more than the bare minimum of service to their customers. And even that service is conducted haphazardly and without any real structure.
The Framework for Service adds structure to your service and gives you a simple but powerful tool to wow your customers.