Customer Service Best Practices: Importance of Live Phone Support

Written by Savannah McDermott

 

When it comes to the daily routines, the regularly scheduled appointments, and other things of the sort, modern consumers want digital, self-service experiences. They want to book online.

But there’s also a reason 911 is a phone number and not a form filled on a website. It’s human instinct to pick up the phone when something’s complicated, or worse yet, an emergency. In high-tension situations, you make a call to receive authentic, person-to-person interaction, understanding, and quick resolution of your issue.

Having live phone support in the home services industry is as important as having online booking and live chat services. Don’t believe me? Let’s dig in a little deeper.

Why Is Live Phone Support So Important in Home Services?

Let’s play a quick game of “What Would You Do?”:

It’s 2:00 in the morning. You wake up to use the bathroom, and blurry-eyed, you stumble down the hallway to get there, only to find that a pipe has burst and you’re ankle-deep in sewer water. What do you do?

Do you, A: Pull out your computer, search for a plumbing company, and book an appointment online for the next morning?

Or, B: Pick up the phone.

Situations like this one—which are uniquely common in our industry—make it incredibly important to offer around-the-clock live phone support. Having a real person with real empathy, understanding, and the ability to ask the right questions to help solve an urgent issue can help:

  • Improve the customer experience
  • Increase booking conversions
  • Retain valuable customers

 

Here’s how.

How Live Phone Support Improves the Customer Experience

Beyond emergencies, there are other less-talked-about aspects of why offering live phone support is valuable.

  • Live phone support allows customers to book over the phone at any time, including after-hours.

In a scenario like the one described above, a customer wants to speak to someone “in-person”—not hit an answering machine and leave a message. If you offer 24/7 live phone support with a home services expert, a customer can count on your company to be there, any hour of the day, ready to empathize with and help solve their problem. Not just any live answering service can do that.

  • Live phone support empowers quick issue resolution.

When a customer calls your company, they want a solution to their issue as quickly as possible. If a company has a long wait time or no phone support at all, that customer will hang up and move on. Same goes if a company does answer the phone but doesn’t schedule an appointment or get them the emergency help they need. By offering live phone support with an expert that’s ready to serve, you can be there for your customer in their time of need and help relieve their stress by booking an appointment immediately.

  • Live phone support shows customers you care and enables their trust.

Interactions in the home services industry can be intimate and vulnerable. Homeowners must open their homes to strangers to handle emergencies, which can be both stressful and expensive. As a result, customers seek genuine empathy, sensitivity, and trust from their provider. By offering live phone support with people trained in the trades and understand home service issues, you can show your customers authentic care and help ensure confidence, encouraging them to choose your company when emergency strikes again.

As you can see, live phone support helps ensure a positive customer experience in stressful circumstances. With this improved customer experience, conversion rates improve as well—and it shows in the numbers.

How Live Phone Support Improves Conversion

While many homeowners start their home services consumer journey online (via search engines), several still convert by calling. According to a study by Invoca, the percentage of consumers (by trade category) who call after searching is:

  • Appliance repair: 92%
  • Electrical: 82%
  • HVAC repair: 84%
  • Plumbing: 93%
  • Roofing: 84%

Many of those call-in interactions result in a close/purchase. According to the same study, 40% of consumers who call from search convert, making phone services one of the most valuable conversion tools for a company. On average, the amount of money spent after search per home services category is:

  • Appliance repair: $162
  • Electrical: $597
  • HVAC repair: $908
  • Plumbing: $614
  • Roofing: $4,589

As you can see, when there’s an emergency or large project at stake, the consumers will call. And when they call, they will need service (and that service might bring in some revenue).

By catering to how your customers want to communicate, you’ll set yourself up to be their go-to home service provider every time.

 

Savannah McDermott is the Head of Customer Success at Schedule Engine.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Words to Provoke, Inspire, and Entertain

Written by Lynn Wise

The New Year is right around the corner. Looking back, we have had almost two years of uncertainty and chaos. Yet most service trades have and are prospering well. With this said, I decided to keep this light for a year-end article. 

Rather than write a few paragraphs on a business topic, I wanted to leave 2021 with some sayings from a favorite motivational speaker of mine. ©Larry Winget authored a great deskside book called The Gospel of Larry.  I highly recommend you pick up a copy and keep it on your desk, in your truck, by your bedside, or wherever you have a few minutes to reflect.  

The quotes from ©Larry Winget are long, but I have selected a few for you to read and reflect on 2021 or think about 2022 in different terms. 

 Here we go!

 

©Larry Winget

I don’t have any interest in taking care of people. My interest is in teaching people how to take care of themselves.   

 

On Life

Simple ideas for a better world: Smile more. Don’t litter. Buy things from little kids. Use your turn signals. Don’t talk in theaters. Say please and thank you.

Putting up with something is the same as endorsing it. Do you endorse rudeness, laziness, lousy service, insolence, stupidity? If not, stop putting up with it.

Life is about two things: The things you CAN control and the things you CAN’T control. Which are you spending your time on?

Don’t worry too much about making the right decision. Just make the decision, then make the decision right.

 

On Success

Wishful thinking is not a strategy for success.

Success comes from what you do, not from what you say you are going to do.

Before you can say yes to what you want, you have to say no to what you have.

The best way to get ahead is to move your behind.

Why be successful? It is very simple: because you can.

 

On Work

Focus on accomplishment, not activity. What you do isn’t as important as what you get done.

If it feels easy, maybe it’s because you aren’t doing it right. Some things are supposed to be hard.

Finding a job you love isn’t always possible, but falling in love with the job you have usually is.

Don’t tell me how busy you are. Show me what you’ve gotten done. Words don’t matter. Results do.

 

On Business

A simple business fact: Your value must exceed what your cost, or you will be replaced by someone who costs less and has more value.

Leadership is not about supporting your people; it’s about holding your people to a higher standard.

The biggest mistake you will ever make is thinking you can’t be replaced.

Good results cover up a multitude of sins.

 

On Money

Poor is a condition. Broke is a situation. Fix your situation before it becomes a condition.

If you were born poor, it’s not your fault. If you die poor, it is.

People don’t have money problems; they have priority problems. Get your priorities right, and your money will get right.

Get clear about what you own and what owns you.

These quotes are a few of my favorites from ©Larry Winget. The quick read has other categories such as Relationships, Parenting, and Stupidity. Grab a copy of The Gospel of Larry, you will reference it often.

 

I will leave you with two of my own:

  • Focus on the Rule, not the Exception to the Rule.
  • Say what you mean, mean what you say!

Happy Holidays and New Year! 

See you in 2022.

 

Lynn Wise is the Founder and CEO of Contractor in Charge.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

It’s a Wonderful Life, but a Terrible Business

Written by Todd Liles 

 

George Bailey is perhaps the worst businessman in movies.

Just look at the honeymoon scene. George used his honeymoon savings to keep the people from taking their shares and selling them to Mr. Potter. It was a lovely scene in the movie, but he didn’t even get a signed receipt for the money. In fact, he told the lady not to sign anything. That’s charming, but there is no way he will remember the amount given and to whom.

(Building and Loan Scene: Chaos)

 

His wife was also complicit in this act. She was the one that brought the money out and handed it to George.

(Building and Loan Scene: Wife handing over money)

 

Instead of firing his incompetent uncle, he puts him in charge of an $8,000 deposit. In a moment of absolute buffoonery, his uncle gives the money to Mr. Potter!!

(Bank Scene: Uncle handing over money)

 

He is not the best family man. In service to the community, he puts his family in a terrible situation.

After his uncle hands over the business saving bank deposit to enemy #1, George is broken. He takes out his troubles on his family.

(Home scene: Girl crying at piano)

 

He goes out drinking; Gets in a fight.

(Bar scene: Punched in Bar)

 

Crashes his car.

(Crash scene: Car in a tree)

 

And he is going to end it all by jumping off a bridge. All of this is on Christmas Eve, mind you.

(Bridge Scene: Edge of the bridge)

 

Yes, George is selfless. So, we give him plenty of breaks for his bad business decisions. Yes, George has helped many people in his community. In fact, the community needs George Bailey. The community is better for having George. That is made plain and simple when Clarence the Angle shows him his impact on Bedford Falls.

(Major Scene in Bedford Falls: Running through town)

 

What is not clear is this “Is George better because of his community?”

While the romantic answer is “Yes, of course!” The reality says, “Not really.” By the end of the movie, all of George’s friends give him money to help keep him out of trouble.

(End scene: Money on table.)

 

And that scene makes me cry. Yes, it’s touching. But, do you think this one moment will be the last moment of trouble in George’s life?

Unless George learns how to have a Wonderful Business, he will repeat his troubles time and time again. He will pull his children into the unrewarding chains of the Building and Loan. Like his father before him, George will die of a stress-induced stroke.

Here’s the part that worries me the most about this movie . . . it’s not a movie.

It’s real life.

Sadly, it’s the life that many contractors live day by day. Many of you are serving your community and not of service to yourself or your family. Many of you have made similar mistakes as George.

So, when I give my next piece of advice to George, feel free to pass it on to the person that may need to hear it.

 

How to Have a Wonderful Business

George, I’m your Business Guardian Angel. My name is Todd. I’m an angel first class. I earned my wings helping businesspeople Have a Wonderful Life and a Wonderful Business.

Clarence came here to help you see the value of your life. I’m here to help you change your life by improving your business.

I have five simple rules for you to follow, George.

Rule #1: Get a business coach

George, you learned how to run a business from your father. He was a wonderful man, but he didn’t know business. He taught you poorly.

No, no, George! Business coaches are not like Mr. Potter. Mr. Potter was a miserable old soul. Good business coaches serve everyone. Mr. Potter was only self-serving.

Rule #2: Earn a profit of 15% to 20%

George, you need to pay yourself more money than what you do. And, your business needs to earn a respectable 15% to 20% profit at the end of the year.

George! You think that profits are evil. Why is that, George?

Do you think it is better to struggle every night wondering if you will make it through the next day?

George, if you went out of business, who would serve Bedford Falls?

See George; profits aren’t evil. Profits allow you to weather the storms, George. They allow you to fight against Mr. Potter. They keep you in service to your community.

Rule #3: Surround yourself with the best talent

Let’s talk about your Uncle George.

Oh. Do you know that it’s a problem?!

Then, George, why do you let him handle such important tasks?

You can keep him at the Building and Loan if you like, George. But don’t you think there might be other jobs he would be more suited for? Jobs that he would enjoy more. Jobs that wouldn’t set him up for failure.

Yes, George. That’s right. Keeping your uncle here is unkind.

Rule #4: Relax and enjoy your life

Work is not your entire life, George. Relax and enjoy your life.

Do you remember when you wanted to travel the world? 

You can still do that, George! And, you should do that, George.

You’ve been treating your business like a prison. Oh, my dear boy. It’s not a prison! No, your business is a magical transportation machine. It can take you anywhere you want to go, George!!

And, you need to go, George. You really need to go. It’s time to relax. It’s time to enjoy a little of this wonderful life! It’s time to see the world, George.

Rule #5: Make it happen in 12 months

Here is my last rule, George. And it’s the most important rule of all. Listen closely, George!

Make it happen in 12 months!

Yes, yes, yes, yes, you can.

You can make it happen in 12 months, and you must make it happen in 12 months, George!

Listen closely, my boy. Your time is running out. You will either make these changes this year or….. 

George! Do you know why you must make these changes!?

Then go, George! Go do it now! Don’t wait, my boy!!

 

Question: Do you have a Wonderful Life and Business? 

Are you ready to make a change?

 

Todd Liles is the CEO of Service Excellence.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

When is it Enough?

Written by Steve Mores

How much is enough? Depending on what the “enough” refers to will give us the direction to answer the question based on our opinion. For purposes of this article, let’s discuss financial success and the growth of a contracting business. How much is enough revenue, locations, acquisitions, buildings, techs, salespeople, etc.? This is not a rhetorical question, and there is a wide range of answers depending on your goals and plans. How much is enough depends on how one defines the meaning of enough for themselves.  

 

For some, it may be the pursuit of more money, power, respect, and status. For others, it’s knowledge, giving to charity, doing good, and creating opportunities for other people. If your sole purpose is to get more stuff at all costs, then you will never have enough. Ironically though, you can’t be as charitable and create opportunities for others without the financial wherewithal to do so.

 

As far as financial wealth, most of us can’t even comprehend being a billionaire. Many people think of billionaires, and high-end millionaires for that matter, as greedy people and hedge-fund type folks where it’s all about the pursuit for more money. Yet, most “rich people” got there through years of hard work and starting from a very humble beginning. That’s how I identify with the “rich people” in our service industries. 

 

In a recent article that I was reading, it stated that the minimum someone needs to be relatively happy is $50,000 per year, and the maximum where money won’t make you any happier is $90,000 per year. While that may be true for some, there is nothing wrong with that thought as long as it covers essential needs such as rent, food, and support for family’s needs. Yet, many people have income way beyond this. Their happiness is driven by the opportunities their business creates for others and not the financial status it brings to them. 

 

For me, although I enjoy the income this industry has allowed me to have, money has not been my primary motive. Financial security and safety are important, yet I derive my happiness in business by helping contractors excel in IAQ sales. This, in turn, supports their cause of building a business for themselves, which supports great career opportunities for others.    

 

So, back to dollars and cents. Would you say that a net worth of $80 million is enough? That is considered a pittance to hedge-fund moguls and large mutual fund money managers. Compare that with Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder of private equity firm Blackstone Group, who has a net worth of $12.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Or Abigail Johnson, CEO of Fidelity Investments, has a net worth of $12.2 billion. Or John Bogle, Founder and CEO of Vanguard Group Investors, which is twice the size of Fidelity, who has a net worth of $80 million. Wait! What? Twice the size of Fidelity and John Bogle is only worth $80 million? Is he not a billionaire? Why not? 

 

John Bogle believed that making money in the market should not only be for those with a surplus of money to invest and the funds managers, but for anyone who wants a secure place to create a retirement fund. He founded Vanguard Group in 1976 and is credited with creating the first index fund to allow all people, no matter what income level, to invest in the market. His concept was investment over-speculation, long-term patience over short-term action, and reducing fees as much as possible. The ideal investment vehicle Bogle created as a low-cost index fund held over a period with the dividends reinvested and purchased with dollar-cost averaging. He substantially lowered costs and the exorbitant fees that funds managers were charging. These investments also did not require commissions to brokerage firms and fees to financial advisors; investment banking and legal fees for any mergers and IPOs; and the enormous marketing and advertising expenses entailed in distributing financial products.  

 

This created a new investment vehicle that revolutionized the investment industry to many funds managers chagrin. Vanguard is famous for its no loads, low expenses, and low to non-existent fees and commissions. In January 2020, Vanguard announced that it was dropping commissions on all stocks and options. This lowers the risk and increases the odds in favor of success for the average Joe to accumulate savings for retirement at the expense of massive profits to Vanguard and income to Bogle.  

 

Although Bogle was considered very rich by most standards, it wasn’t all about the money. He could have earned billions more. Bogle’s ground-breaking investment philosophy is about helping investors with low-cost index funds without all of the traditional fees that have lined the pockets of fund managers for years. He said enough, and he wants to ensure that the average citizen can retire with enough.

 

At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, author Kurt Vonnegut tells his buddy and fellow author, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history. Heller responds, “Yes, but I have something he will never have — enough.”

 

John Bogle’s book Enough was based on this quote. And the most remarkable thing about Bogle is that he created trillions of dollars in value for others and kept relatively little of it for himself. He also was known to give half of his income to charity. He had enough!

 

If Bogle were the traditional fund manager, he’d be a billionaire. His investing brand seems obvious now, but it was unorthodox at the time. When Bogle launched the first index fund available to individual investors in 1976, the industry ridiculed it, calling it “Bogle’s folly.” Bogle was still determined to make it a sustainable reality. Today, Vanguard is among the largest money managers in the world, with $5 trillion in assets, roughly two-thirds of which are invested in index funds today.

 

I like to think that we have the same attitude about enough in our service industries as John Bogle did. Albeit at different levels, but enough just the same. The small contractor that runs a profitable company that provides for his family and staff while accumulating funds for retirement and an exit strategy can be very happy and satisfied with enough. On the other end of the spectrum, we have contractors that grow exponentially every year, begin to acquire companies, and expand their reach into other markets and states. Yes, they are obviously accumulating more wealth, yet I find that their main motivation is not money. The money will come, but in conversations with them, I find that it is more about helping other contractors get to a growth position they could not get to on their own and creating good jobs and career paths for others. These empire-builders are also very charitable with their money and share their knowledge and expertise with others. That’s what makes them happy, and it’s enough for them.  

 

A billionaire has the means to obtain everything he or she could ever want in this world, and millions of people may envy their position. But that’s not the point at all. Life is not about the quest for more stuff. It’s about being happy and having enough. You see, the true measure of business, wealth, and life is not how much stuff we can buy and accumulate, rather what we do with the stuff we have during the time we have to use it. In a speech, Denzel Washington discussed wealth and having enough, and he said, “Use it wisely because you will never see a U-Haul being pulled behind a hearse.”

 

Enough IS Enough! 

 

Steve Mores is the Vice President of Training and Sales at Dynamic Air Quality Solutions.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

It’s Time to Give Yourself the Gift of Time

 

Written by Danielle Putnam

“Mom, why do you always work so much?” Her four-year-old, angelic voice questioned.

Instantly, my brain began to fire off a very believable defense, a list of…excuses.

“I’m not always working, Lyla, but you kids constantly make a mess that I have to pick up, and Palmer just pooped her pants then pooped the extra on the bathroom floor ‘cause she thought it looked like chocolate mousse, and the puppies just got out, so I have to go chase them, and Luke, the baby, is swinging on top of the kitchen table on the chandelier and….”

I stopped…fortunately, I stopped before the words left my mouth. As defensive as I wanted to be, and as full of excuses as I knew I was, that’s all they were…excuses. My sweet four-year-old wasn’t asking for excuses; she was asking for my time. What a wake-up call.

Mind you, this happened tonight, and it’s a Sunday. I don’t work my ‘job’ work on Sundays until well after my kids are in bed, so my daughter wasn’t questioning my ‘work’ work. She was questioning my lack of presence. She was questioning the fact that I was more concerned with chaos control than just being with the family in the midst of it all.

A man in Mauli once said, “You Americans have all the watches, but we have all the time.”

Understanding your 8-5 or 7-7 is a self-created box…there is no box, but there are a fluid 24 hours in a day. How do you want to spend them? We so frequently hear about time management techniques, but the truth is, we can’t manage time. We can only manage how we use our time, and the day will end regardless. They say that time flies when you’re having fun, but time passes regardless of how we use it, and we don’t always use it in the way that most fulfills our souls. What a waste! Someone told me recently that most employees spend their entire workday just glancing at the clock, counting down to see how long until they get to go home. Do we really think that if that’s the case, everyone at the office, owners, and managers included, are actually completely productive and efficient? Come on, admit it. You’ve spent an hour just clicking between the different folders in your email, too, haven’t you? If we gave ourselves a better work/life balance, we’d be less obsessive with the concept of getting home and far more productive during actual work hours.

I’m currently working harder on pre-planning my tasks to be at peak productivity…when I need to be. And then, I’m also working at pre-planning my family time, including vacations, to enjoy who and what is truly important to me—my husband and my three beautiful children, my joys.

What a blessing to be headed into the Holiday season—Thanksgiving, and not even a blink after, Christmas…and then a New Year.

And what a blessing that we still have a minute to consider our priorities. I know I’m currently re-assessing mine!

Progress tricked us into trusting it – then it exhausted us. We work day in and day out being busy, sometimes just being busy for the sake of being busy. It burns us out. It steals our joy. It consumes our thoughts and our time. And if we’re being honest, sometimes, our vision is unclear; we are working towards nothing and spending a lot of time doing it. Then we get home and think about all that we still have to do. We can’t put the work and the busy down, even when it’s time for our brains to clock out.

There is no such thing as work/life balance in America today unless you create it. You create that balance by pre-scheduling what’s truly important to you and by saying no to the rat race of being a constant fireman, putting out fire after fire as the superhero in your business. Sure, it makes us all feel good to be the hero. Give yourself a pat on the back for a second, and acknowledge the fact that, yes, you really are good at solving everyone’s problems. But then quickly stop patting your back as the recognition of time slips through your fingers – when you’re busy putting out other people’s fires in reactionary mode, you’re missing out on what’s truly important to you. And sometimes, you’re pouring gasoline on the fire in the process because you haven’t given those fires proper headspace anyway.

I recommend using a daily affirmation to begin finding and understanding what’s truly important to you. For example, if you want your business to run by itself so you can enjoy the holidays, then you proclaim it in your affirmations each morning by writing it down in your notebook. Then once you have your affirmation written down, set your priorities and to-dos for the day around that affirmation. If what you are working to accomplish in your day doesn’t get you closer to your affirmation, it probably isn’t the most important thing you could be doing with your time. For example: “My business runs with ease. I enjoy time off with the confidence that my business is running itself. I have a clear dashboard, so I can check in easily to know the health of my business at any time.”

Now, let’s be honest. The majority of us do not have this super-efficient, easy-as-pie, running itself type of business. But writing the future down in a daily affirmation will help you focus your mind on prioritizing the work items you need to keep front and center so you can begin to establish the pieces to build what you want your future to look like.

During this holiday season, I can’t help but recognize how many businesses have become what I call “The Machine,” and The Machine of being busy is sucking away our joy and the lifestyle we crave.

Instead of growing your business for that future exit and Hail Mary payday, why not run your business as a lifestyle business, so you and your family – those important to you – can enjoy your today instead of running in a constant race for tomorrow? Life is a journey…but it is not a race. Do yourself a favor and slow down.

Our barriers do not lack commitment but over-commitment; we have more commitments than time. And do you know the one commitment that is absolutely true? Your time will run out. Are you making it count?

 

Danielle Putnam is the President of The New Flat Rate and on the Advisory Board of Women in HVACR.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.