If you ask us here at HARDI, customer service is the bread-and-butter of HVACR Distributors. In an industry that is becoming increasingly technology dependent, customer service remains the constant for wholesale distributors that has stood the test of time over decades. Across all of our regions, HARDI members consistently demonstrate an exceptional knowledge and ability in customer service. But don’t take it from us, hear it first-hand from HARDI member branch managers and employees!
“I feel that customer service is truly important to our branch.”
“In the distribution industry, we all handle similar products. Customer Service is the way that we differentiate ourselves from the competition. A technique I use in every interaction with customers is to treat them the way I would want to be treated as a customer. Learn your customers just as you learn the products you offer. Listen to your customers and ask them questions; You can and will gain tremendous knowledge in the HVACR industry by doing this.”
“I believe Customer Service is one of the most important aspects of our business.”
“We have the ability to gain or lose business every day based on how we respond to our customer’s needs. When dealing with upset customers, I try to deflate the situation by apologizing and acknowledging their anger and frustration. Just accepting blame and letting them know you are sorry in most cases enables you to calm down the situation and get the problem fixed. For people new to the industry, always remember that our customer doesn’t need us, we need them. They are the reason we come to work every day and are able to support our families.”
“Customer service is the number one thing we strive for at our branch.”
“I have found that even if you make a mistake with a customer they don’t seem to mind that much if they feel they are important and taken care of. I would hope the industry would always strive to have great customer service as that is what keeps customers coming back. I personally try to ask every one of our customers how they have been or if they are having a good day. I always make sure to ask if they need anything else and thank them for the order. I find that even the grumpiest of customers smile when you ask them something about themselves rather than the job. On the phone always have a cheerful voice and don’t act like you are too busy to listen to their needs. I often find even if you have to put them on hold if you ask for permission to do it first and thank them after it goes a long way. Always make the customer feel like you know what they are talking about even if you don’t. If you don’t know the answer don’t say I don’t know let me ask. Instead ask them to hold while you gather the information. When you come back with the answer they will have more confidence in you the next time they need something.”
“Customer service is vital to our branch.”
“Next to safety, excellent customer service is the most important thing we focus on daily. In our industry, most of our competition sells the same products. We have to separate ourselves by delivering exceptional service. It encourages repeat business.
With customers, I show empathy. I want them to feel that I care. I am not afraid to admit mistakes. Customers seem to respect us more for taking ownership. We always fix our errors with a sense of urgency. We do what it takes to make the customer happy. I give the customers that are appreciative a dose of their own medicine. I show my appreciation by always thanking them for their business. A simple “thank you” goes a long way.
Never take sales for granted. Everyone wants the million dollar account. But don’t underestimate the smaller companies. Not everyone can be a big dog but you need the smaller companies to be successful too. Another tip I have is ask your customer how you are doing. “What are we doing right?” “Where are we falling short?” Everything might seem fine but sometimes people don’t speak up. How can you improve if you don’t get feedback?”
“Customer service should be considered a cornerstone of our industry.”
Today’s market is hyper-competitive. Having numerous competitors in close proximity to our branch, providing a high degree of customer service is vital to establishing Century A/C Supply as the most desirable option for purchasing parts and supplies. We need the customer to be confident that when they choose Century, they’re going to receive their orders in an accurate, prompt, and courteous manner. Offering customer service beyond expectation, making the customer feel welcome and part of the family, will keep Century A/C at the top of their list of suppliers who meet their needs.
Customer service should be considered a cornerstone of our industry. Any adverse customer service situation will have ramifications down the supply chain. Poor customer service at the distributorship level will be reflected by poor customer service at the contractor level. If a customer receives great customer service, they will tell ten people, if a customer receives poor customer service they will likely tell hundreds of people. By providing costumer service beyond expectation to our contractors, we can help them ensure that the public holds a positive view of the HVAC/R industry as a whole.
It is easy to maintain a positive service level while things are going well and customers are happy, it is another story when interacting with a customer who is experiencing an adverse situation. A great tool to use in situations where a customer is seemingly hostile is empathy. Treat each customer as an individual with unique needs and wants. Listen attentively to any problems or concerns that they may have. Stay engaged. While it is impossible to fully resolve every issue, being empathetic will help maintain trust and cultivate a positive relationship with the customer out of a negative situation.
One piece of advice I would offer to someone who is new to the supply side of our industry is to be accurate and courteous. Our customers rely on us to give them the correct material the first time. Their time is money. If a customer learns that they can rely on you to get their order correct every time, they will make it a point to come back and see you.