Air conditioning in the summer is pure bliss. We’ve all experienced that audible sigh of relief we exhale when we step into a well-chilled room after spending a muggy July day outdoors.
In fact, as I write this all my windows are open and my thermostat is reading 30 degrees. I am absolutely certain that my A/C is broken. But I’ll leave that to the experts to figure out.
Because the reality is, most homeowners don’t know the difference between a refrigerant leak and a malfunctioning fan. This is why HVAC is all about trust. Like your family doctor you’ve had for 30 years, or your favourite local Greek restaurant, once you find a reliable, consistent HVAC company you’re likely to stay with them for life.
2021 Summer Trends Driving HVAC Demand
There is a growing demand for residential and commercial HVAC units this summer, and here’s what is driving it:
- Record-breaking heat waves across Canada and the US due to climate change (this one is pretty self-explanatory)
- Canada’s worst allergy season yet has been attributed to significantly higher levels of pollen (Global News)
- Pet adoption soared during the pandemic. More than a third of all Canadian households now have a dog, and 40 percent now have a cat (CBC)
- More Canadians are renovating their homes and 74% of homeowners are planning to improve their homes in 2021 (Homestars)
- A/C unit shortage. Pandemic fueled supply-chain delays have caused 68% of builders to report shortages of HVAC equipment, as of May 2021 (Fox Business)
All of these factors are driving demand for air-conditioned, well-ventilated homes. They also add pressure to an already competitive HVAC market. Right now, it’s crucial for HVAC companies to be as proactive and efficient about customer communication as possible. Because if you’re not, local competitors will be.
Here are some smart customer service strategies, that will set you apart from the HVAC competition:
Be responsive during the most convenient times for your customers.
Most consumers don’t operate on the same schedule as HVAC technicians. You know your customers best, so you’ve likely noticed patterns in the times they call you. Maybe Wednesdays after 5 pm or Saturdays in the morning are when your phone is the busiest.
But, when your phone is the busiest may also when you are the busiest — or when you are done for the day.
This is why 18% of home services calls go unanswered on weekdays, while 41% go unanswered on weekends. Unanswered calls don’t just leave consumers frustrated — they leave revenue on the table too (Google).
You can make sure that even if peak call times don’t align with your schedule, you don’t miss an opportunity.
Make it easy for customers to communicate with you.
Part of good customer service is anticipating when customers want to communicate with you — and how.
For many consumers, HVAC problems can be especially confusing. Customers would rather just pick up the phone and speak to a real person ready to help rather than navigate HVAC terminology online.
That’s why more than 50% of customers across all age groups typically use the phone to reach out to a service team, making it the most-used channel for customer service (Zendesk).
In addition to phone and email, live chat can be a useful tool for customers that have FAQs about all things HVAC. Having a dedicated team of CSRs to respond immediately to live chat messages can serve as an efficient help desk. This way customers are armed with the info they need before they pick up the phone and schedule their next A/C check-up.
Avoid unnecessary wait times.
We’ve all picked up the phone to make what we thought would be a quick and painless call. Then, we find ourselves on hold for what feels like eons.
People don’t like to wait. It’s agitating — whether it’s waiting for a new A/C unit or simply to speak with a real person. This is particularly true when the matter is urgent and a customer wants answers asap.
In fact, nearly 60% of customers feel that long holds and wait times are the most frustrating parts of a service experience (Zendesk).
And long hold and wait times are the perfect way to send callers to local competitors. 67% of customers end a call in frustration when they cannot reach a customer service representative (Glance).
Make sure that there is always a live person ready to take the call by using call overflow support. Having backup gives you peace of mind that every customer is treated with professionalism and no lead goes uncaptured.
Use positive customer reviews to build trust.
I am not one to write bad reviews because I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. But, I do go out of my way to write positive ones when I’ve experienced phenomenal service.
And like most people, I certainly do my research before I let an HVAC technician or any other service provider into my home.
But how many reviews does it take to build trust? Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business. Many consumers will not reach out to a home services provider until they’ve vetted their reviews (BrightLocal).
Try doing a quick scan on Homestars of heating & air conditioning companies near you. You’ll notice a trend pretty quickly: the bad reviews consistently mention a lack of responsiveness. This often shows up with unprofessional customer service when making an inquiry or HVAC service request. The positive reviews highlight that HVAC customers value friendly, professional urgent responses.
Excellent customer service + excellent customer reviews add up to more business for you. Consumers who rate a company’s service as “good” are 38% more likely to recommend that company (Qualtrics XM Institute).
Treat every caller as a potential customer.
When someone calls your HVAC company it’s an opportunity to make a stellar first impression. If you WOW callers, then they don’t have to shop around and they’ll take action with you.
40% of home services consumers who call from search make a purchase. Other common actions include scheduling an appointment, checking hours, and inquiring about pricing (Invoca).
These are the kind of actions that you can streamline. By keeping things quick, easy and professional with an answering service, you’re showing respect for your customer’s time.
Customer’s also value consistency, and More than 70% of consumers believe that companies should collaborate on their behalf so that they don’t have to repeat information to different representatives (Zendesk). Ultimately this allows you to be more consistent in every area of your HVAC business.
Because when you outsource business processes like appointment booking, and A/C tune-up reminder calls, you can actually help more HVAC customers. Being more agile and professional by using an answering service will differentiate you from the competition this summer.
For all more tips & strategies to help you stay competitive check our Resource Library!