Handling Customers Who Are Hot (Under the Collar)

My Air Conditioner’s Broken. How Fast Can You Get Here?

Your customers don’t care how busy, short-staffed or overworked you are. When they’re hot, they just want their HVAC systems fixed. NOW! This is when HVAC company owners and employees need to keep their cool.

Helping irate customers can be a true test of patience. Even if your company didn’t cause the problem that triggered the angry customer, you might have to bear the burden of fixing what’s wrong.

Calming an irate customer begins well before technicians arrive at a home. Instead, it begins the moment the customer calls. If done correctly, your company can come out ahead. Ideally, the people who answer your phones – whether it’s a customer service representative (CSR) or the dispatcher – should understand a few basics about helping angry customers. 

To start, have your CSRs (or whoever answers the phone) remove these words and phrases from their vocabulary:

  • We’re busy
  • No, can’t, won’t … (and any other negative words)
  • Our policy says …

Your customer doesn’t want to hear excuses about why you can’t fix their system, and they most certainly don’t want to hear about your company policies when it comes to repairs. 

Instead, remind the CSRs of some best practices for cooling down an explosive situation:

1.) Acknowledge the customer’s situation 
When customers come in hot, the CSR needs to meet it with calm. Rather than making excuses for why your company can’t help immediately (busy, short-staffed, overworked), your CSRs should make every effort to be understanding. 

Instead of saying…

  • “Calm down.”
  • “Like I just said …”
  • “Sorry, but …”
  • “You’re wrong.”

Say …

  • “I understand why you’re upset.”
  • “It’s important that we help you quickly.”
  • “Here’s what I’m going to do to help …”
  • “If I were in your shoes, I’d feel the same way.”

2.) Remember, it’s not personal
Angry customers are not lashing out at a single person (although it may feel that way). They’re lashing out at the situation. The best way to address the customer’s anger is to remain calm and professional. Listen to the customer’s problem and determine ways to help. 

3.) Ask the right questions
When helping an angry customer, the CSR’s most important job is getting accurate information. Ask the customer to explain the problem in as much detail as possible. Request additional details as needed to clarify what needs to get done. Relay the information to technicians so they understand the scope of work. 

Technicians who have been fully briefed on the problem can better handle the call. 

By running EverRest’s Lead Generation Tasks and Secondary and Mandatory Lead Conditions, technicians can determine what is causing the problems. At the same time, homeowners get additional peace of mind knowing the process includes a comprehensive examination of the HVAC unit. 

If the Lead Generation Tasks and Secondary and Mandatory Lead Conditions uncover any problems, the technician should contact a supervisor. Once at the home, the supervisor then explains options to the customer.

Ultimately, the supervisor and technician have a happy and cooler customer.