In the world of service, the words you use to describe what you do are just as important to your profitability as the actual work you do.
Providing real value and solutions, and operating from a place of what I call “pure motive” service are key to my philosophy of running a smooth business. To do this you must transform your business from transactional-based to relationship-based. One of the best strategies to make this change is by using what I call verbal packaging.
Verbal packaging is about changing your use of words. Are words important? If not, why is there a multi-billion dollar advertising industry? Why are some politicians so much more successful than others? Why do some business executives close difficult deals on a regular basis while others almost never make the sale? A lot of it has to do with using language to portray value proposition and connect with customers on a deeper level.
As service professionals, you're going into people's personal space, so the words you use makes the difference between them writing the check or not.
Just about everybody who calls a service technician to their house wants to have the work done. People aren't calling their plumber or HVAC guy as a practical joke. As service professionals, you're going into people's personal space, so the words you use makes the difference between them writing the check or not.
Strong Words VS. Weak Words
Without consciously thinking about it, we make word choices that carry an attitude and an energy all the time. As service providers, we can say that there are strong words and weak words. Let’s look at a few examples and compare their effectiveness.
“If I repair your heating / cooling system” vs. “When I repair your heating / cooling system.”
“When I try to fix it...” vs. “When I do fix it.”
“I could make that system work” vs. “I can make that system work.”
“I hope it'll be up and running by Tuesday.” “It will be up and running by Tuesday.”
Really absorb these word choices. Feel what it's like to hear these as a home owner. The words on the right carry more confidence, more assurance. They’re more definite and less wishy washy. You see, by using the right column words, you are not just speaking differently, you are making definite promises with language which affects your behavior as a service provider, making you actually provide better service.
Attitude, which is usually reflected with words, is a powerful thing. It actually changes outcomes.
Attitude, which is usually reflected with words, is a powerful thing. It actually changes outcomes. And in this case, part of that changed outcome is a customer with immense respect and admiration for the professionalism in their work.
So why do service techs use weak words?
Because they're afraid that if they're really specific and the diagnosis or the result doesn't turn out to be exactly what they stated, then they'll be in massive trouble later. This is not the approach to take if you want to build confidence and strong customer relationships.
It's All About the Systems
There's a bunch of words that service professionals use way too much, to their own detriment, and I call them “wild words.” Like Tasmanian Devils from the Bugs Bunny cartoon, wild words can take on a life of their own, creating unnecessary damage and loss for us.
One wild word is the term “problem.” Don't tell the customer “There's a problem with the pipes.” Say “We have a fault in the system.” The word fault naturally leads us to the word system, which is an incredibly important word to us in the service trades. Whether you’re in electrical, plumbing or HVAC, there are just a few technical systems. Mentioning them when speaking to the customer about their needs is a tremendously effective method for imparting value and assurance of expertise to the work you do.
Do not say “You have a broken outlet,” which you know and I know might actually cost $1.29 at Home Depot. Instead, say “We have an electrical fault in the voltage distribution system.” This description accurately describes the problem.
Eliminate the use of the parts in discussion. Here's a cardinal rule: it's not what the parts ARE, it's what the parts DO.
Offering the customer meaningful technical knowledge as opposed to talking down to them with manufacturing warehouse part numbers. Instead of being a service tech or a salesman, you become a system engineer creating solutions.
The Faults Lie Within You
Did you know that there's only 5 kinds of faults, total, and all customer issues should be described as being one or a combination of these 5 faults?
- Electrical faults
- Fracture or mechanical faults
- Restriction faults (like a clogged drain)
- Design faults
- Installation faults
If a customer Googles the simple version of parts they need replaced, they'll find a $6.29 item down at Ace Hardware. However, if they Google the alternate terms using the word “fault”, the results might include the nearby engineering or manufacturing firm. This makes the work you do come across as a higher value.
Using verbal packaging and having these kinds of interactions with customers is a pretty neat way for you, as a residential service professional, to go out and make a living. It also happens to generate higher revenue than anything you've experienced.
Joe Crisara is “America’s Service Sales Coach.” He is an educator and entrepreneur and is the CEO of ContractorSelling.com, Total Immersion Service Summit and the new field service software, Jobi at www.jobi.pro. Email Joe at [email protected] for his FREE Verbal Packaging Dictionary.