Your phone rings and – cue dramatic transition music – it’s a water damage lead! But you know better than anyone that getting a phone call doesn’t guarantee you the job. Sure, some calls can turn into jobs instantly, but more often than not you have to communicate with the customer through the estimation process. Here at LeadAmigo, we record all our clients’ calls and listen to them for quality assurance, and we’ve noticed some trends: The companies who are getting and keeping water damage jobs have impeccable customer service. Here are some phone etiquette tips that our clients follow to get more water restoration jobs.
Fake it till you make it
Let’s talk about body chemistry real fast: Did you know that smiling, even when you’re not happy, can trick you into thinking you’re happy?
Yeah. Digest that for a second.
Your body’s like, “Hey, I’m smiling. That must mean I’m happy about something.” And it releases endorphins and serotonin and other chemicals that fire off when you’re feeling euphoric.
In other words, pretending that you’re happy to help your customer, even if this is one of your problem customers and you actually hate it every time you’re on the phone with them – like, “Gawd, Mrs. Catlover, no I cannot navigate my equipment around your 12 litter boxes and get the job done right” – will actually make you happy to help them.
That’s sales Inception. Take notes.
Use affirmative words
OK, if you know anything about The Secret, then you know a little something about affirmative language. And the power for it to will what you want.
Without getting too New Age-y, there’s actually a lot of merit to this in terms of communicating with other people.
Say you’ve got someone on the phone, and they need you to come out NOW. Everyone needs you to come out NOW; it’s a special time zone that only exists within the vacuum of this customer’s particular specialness. But of course you’re going to have to decline sometimes. And there are gonna be a billion other reasons why you’ll have to tell your customer “no” at some point.
The key to keeping your customer happy – hell, the key to keeping your customer, period – is to deliver this negative news in an affirmative way. Here’s what I mean:
Instead of saying, “I can’t come out right now. You’ll have to wait until we can get one of our guys out there. We’re doing the best way can,” say,
“I’m so sorry that your house is flooded. We’re going to do everything we can to help you. All my techs are busy helping other people who need our help right now. I can guarantee one of my guys will be out there in an hour, but I’ll try to get them out to you sooner if possible.”
So not only does the second response paint your company in a more positive light, but it also focuses on what you can and want to do for the customer instead of what you can’t do.
Think about the last time you were on hold with your cable company for 20 minutes before you actually spoke to a live person.
Think about how annoyed you were to have to be calling them in the first place.
Water damage restoration needs are approximately 1.8 gajillion times more stressful than dealing with your cable company.
A lot of the time, when someone’s calling you, it’s because their house is flooded right this very second. All their belongings are in danger of getting ruined. They have insurance, but they never thought they’d ever have to actually use it, and they’re scared and confused and they just want everything to be fixed because they have 11 kids and four full-time jobs and book club on Sunday night, and they do not have time for this.
If you can put yourself in their shoes, you can understand why they’re talking to you the way they are. If you think about what’s bothering them, you’ll be able to appeal to their needs and help them that much more effectively – and secure the flood job.
Give the customer time to talk
Sometimes you have a really mean customer, and they call to say mean things to you, and you don’t particularly care to hear what they have to say.
My number one piece of advice when dealing with customers like this is: DO NOT HANG UP ON THEM.
I mean, sure, as a human, you’re justified in hanging up on someone who’s acting a fool. But as a business professional, this is the fastest way to lose your company thousands of dollars.
Let your customer talk – even if they’re saying something stupid – even if you know without a doubt that everything they’re accusing your company of is a lie. Let them talk, and let them finish.
Sometimes it’s best to just let them run out of steam before responding so you’re not fueling the flames. Replying when they say something that upsets you will just make you defensive and respond out of anger.
When everything’s off their chest and the silence is heavy between the two of you, they have time to process what they’ve just said to you. Most customers will even apologize. Even if they don’t come right out with the words “I’m sorry,” they’ll generally be more agreeable and calmer moving forward if they feel like they’ve been heard.
You’re human. Sometimes you eff up. Even if your intentions are good and even if you didn’t mean to – and even when you really, really think you did the right thing – you can still end up screwing up big time.
Humble yourself for a second. Remember that you’re human, and that it’s possible – it just might be possible – that the thing your customer is upset about could be your fault.
I mean, like, don’t internalize it or anything. Like, don’t go home and carry the weight of this guilt with you. It’s customer service. It’s important to your business but not to your life.
I’m just saying that if you can see how you might be wrong in the situation, then it’ll be easier for you to take accountability for it. Apologize.
Your customer just wants to know that they’re heard. Isn’t that what we all want? To have someone listen to us and validate our concerns and, by proxy, our very existence?
But we can talk philosophy another time. Just say you’re sorry. It goes a long way.
Good cop, bad cop
It’s not a bad idea for your sales team to be separate from you accounts receivable team. If you or one of your team members plays both roles, things can get messy.
Say, you’ve worked with Joe Customer with from the beginning – maybe you’ve shared a few chuckles over the phone and you’re cordial with one another. But when it’s time to get payment from him, he’s like, “Well, uh, you said you were gonna juggle eight colorful cotton balls while you renovated my drywall, but you only juggled five so I don’t think I should have to pay you.”
And you’re hearing this and you know that you only promised to juggle three cotton balls, so you know your techs went above and beyond if they went over there and managed five and suddenly you’re taking this way too personally.
If your sales people are different from your account receivable people, then the latter employees are much more likely act out of empathy.
Without bias, they can be like, “Oh, I’m sorry that there seems to be a small miscommunication between you and one of our sales team members. I’m so sorry if they promised you eight cotton balls, but it says in our policy – which is displayed on our website and in the Welcome Email you received on September ninth – that we only guarantee three cotton balls will be juggled during service.”
You can provide better customer service when the emotions are out of the equation. You can be more professional if you don’t feel like the customer is wronging you, in particular.
Give yourself a second
If you’re a smaller restoration company, then it’s not always possible for you to play good cop/bad cop. Sometimes you’re the only cop patrolling this block, and you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.
Sometimes people just call to complain, and it sounds like they want you to say something, but trust me, you’re not obligated to respond right away.
I mean, don’t give your customer the silent treatment – no one’s saying that. Seriously, don’t call us up like, “You said to freeze out the customer on the phone, and now we’re not making any money because of you.”
I will personally answer that call and tell you that you played yourself.
I’m just saying you don’t have to pretend to know all the answers. You don’t have to feel rushed to say something eloquent when all you really want is to say something colorful.
Stop. Take a second to collect yourself. Take a deep breath. Then respond with compassion.
You can put these phone etiquette tips to good use by getting even more water damage leads to your phone. We can help with that. Sign up to get more water damage leads today.