The Unified Group recently hosted 31 attendees for a "Building a Service Mentality" Forum in San Antonio, TX. The goal of the session was to give attendees new ideas and a great peer network to help continue to improve their customer service skills with both internal and external clients. Weeks prior to the session, each attendee was asked to read “Lessons from the Mouse,” a book with 10 easy lessons on how to apply the Disney customer service approach to their businesses.
The meeting started with guest speaker, Teri Yanovich, former Disney Institute keynote speaker and seminar leader, discussing how to look through the lens of the customer to create a “WOW” experience.
“It starts with quality,” Yanovich said. “Surround it with an experience that makes it easy to conduct business with you and you’ll be unbeatable.” Teri talked about the importance of building connections vs. completing transactions. Attendees were asked to service map an incoming service call to see what their clients were experiencing at each touch point of the process. “During work you see things from your point of view,” said Stacie Martucci of ISS Mechanical. “It’s a great idea to view things from what client sees.” Christina Denogean said, “I never thought of what we do as an experience. It made me think about how I can make someone feel pleasant or how I could create an experience when someone walks into my office or when I talk to a customer.”
Unified Group managing partner, Jim Bartolotta of Air Comfort — the ContractingBusiness.com Commercial HVAC Contractor of the Year for 2014 — continued the theme of looking through the client’s eye by revealing the results of a "stop/start/continue" exercise. Prior to the session, each attendee reached out to a few of their internal and external clients to find out what they wanted each company to stop doing, start doing, and continue doing. “Jim kept it fun and interesting while talking about things that we may be struggling with,” said Danielle Greer of WL Gary Co. “It showed a larger idea of what internal and external customers would like to see,” said Andrew Ghelfi, Cox Engineering. Attendees agreed that this shouldn’t be a one-time event, but something they want to do on a regular basis.
The two-day event included a discussion on how to deal with difficult situations, such as a repeat call on the same unit, or being late on a PM inspection. Bartolotta encouraged attendees to use the STARS recovery process of Showing empathy, Taking responsibility, Apologizing for the situation, Resolving the situation, and Seeking the customers satisfaction. “This process definitely helped me think about ways to help not be so stressed and reprioritize, rethink, and put these steps into play,” said Jorel Chavez of Yearout Service.
Later in the morning the group got into a discussion on how we handle new customers or that person that calls us for the first time. “If we don’t continue to get new business, you won’t maximize your company or team,” Bartolotta said. “We need to continue to grow and one critical way to do that is to wow that customer who is giving us a try.” Jim encouraged members to not focus on the money or getting paid, but to remember what Teri discussed during the first day about making it easy to do business with us. “I never looked at new customers as being a main way to raise profit. Always thought it was keeping the customer,” said Laurie Lewis, Air Controls.
In the afternoon members met in small roundtables to discuss some of their challenges and stressors. The main concern and stressor for the group revolved around communication, team work, and getting everyone was on the same page. The attendees suggested utilizing Day-in-the-Life to help individuals understand what everyone does and how it can positively or negatively affect the common goals, using mistakes as learning opportunities, and picking up the phone instead of emailing when communication was breaking down.
As with every Unified Group session, attendees were encouraged to stay connected with each other after the session. “When you go back, keep these groups together. You know someone you didn’t have last week that shares a lot of the same challenges and can be a resource,” said Jim.
ABOUT THE UNIFIED GROUP: Formed in 1998, The Unified Group is an organization of more than 50 of the very best independent HVAC commercial contractors in the industry. Its goal is to make great HVAC companies even stronger, and by doing so, increase the value they provide customers, whether they are local, regional, or national businesses.