Winning the customer battle, losing the revenue war


I get asked from time to time what is the best kind of marketing that a dealer can do for his or her company. Is it paper ads? Radio? Social media? The answer might surprise you, but one of the most valuable marketing tools is word-of-mouth referrals.

When you aim to improve your referrals, you have to consider what I like to call the customer battle and the revenue war. Think about it - is a $100 billing discrepancy more important than a lifetime maintenance agreement?

Here are three escalated customer scenarios and details on how to handle them so you come out on top long-term.

  • Problem No. 1: Your customer has a maintenance call for a system that is just days outside of their warranty period.
  • Solution: Let the customer know up-front that the system is out of warranty but that you will dispatch a technician free of charge to come assess the issue.
  • Here's why: Putting a technician on the case to diagnose the issue costs you very little - maybe a half an hour to an hour of your technicians time tops - but showing the customer outstanding customer service above and beyond their contracted warranty is a set up for a great referral, not to mention an opportunity to sell them personalized maintenance programs.
  • Problem No. 2: Your customer is upset because of a late technician or Comfort Advisor and is considering going to a competitor.
  • Solution: Offer a free or low-cost tune-up for when the customer needs it in the future. 
  • Here's why: Mistakes happen but when they affect your customers you need a backup plan of action. Offering a tune-up is a win-win for you and your customer. Customers are happy because they received something of considerable monetary value for their trouble, and you gained the chance to return to the home for preventative maintenance. Tune-ups have immeasurable potential for revenue growth so use them to your advantage.
  • Problem No. 3: Although the job was done correctly and with great customer service, your employees left a mess for your customer to clean up.
  • Solution: Send your customer a gift card for a local carpet cleaning business or cleaning service.
  • Here's why: When you leave a mess behind, you're breaking a cardinal rule of the field-service industry. Sending the customer a solution to the problem and not just a coupon for repeat service shows them not only that you value their home as much as they do, but also that you'll go to any length to make it right and you'll gain his or her trust for repeat business.

A small decision today may affect you long-term; so when you're faced with an escalated customer-service situation ask yourself: Am I winning the customer battle? Or the revenue war?

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