Keep Customers Coming Back

Six easy ways you and your team can pull in and keep customers long-term

Keep Customers Coming Back

Dave Bailey

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The goal of home-service companies is to get the phone to ring. We can calculate the cost to get the phone to ring and to have a service truck show up to a house. Depending on your market, it can be very costly to get a service truck to a new customer’s home.  

How many companies are you competing with for the ability to take care of that one customer? Once you’ve won the opportunity, how do you keep that customer calling your company for any future service needs?

Do you see your customers as people that need you to sell them something, or are they people with a problem that you are there to solve? Of course, they need to buy the solution to their problem, but getting them to buy can be difficult unless you are able to establish trust and to build a relationship.  

Whether your company services residential or commercial customers, here are some things your technicians and customer service representatives can do to build trust with your customers and get them to call you back when the need arises.

1. Have you ever called your own company as a “customer” to see how you are greeted and treated by your CSR? Have your CSRs been trained on how to interact with your customers? CSRs set the mood for your customers. If they have a great attitude and are helpful on the phone, the customer will be at ease and will be more willing to spend more time with your technicians.

2. Do your CSRs have a really good understanding of the services your company provides? It may not be a bad idea for your CSRs to spend time in the field to learn more about what your technicians do. Also, have your technicians spend time in the office listening to the conversations that your CSRs are having with your customers. 

3. Know your job and be honest when you don’t. Be confident in your ability to properly diagnose the problems and to fix them in a timely manner. If you aren’t sure how to proceed, or if you’re stumped by a problem, tell the customer this and ask someone in your company for help. Your customers will respect honesty. Try to avoid saying “I don’t know.” Tell them that you’re having trouble diagnosing, or fixing, an issue and that you’d like a more experienced person to give their input.

4. Listen to understand, not to respond. You may have fixed this exact same issue a hundred times before, but you haven’t fixed it a hundred times for this customer. Listen to what they have to say. Building relationships with your customer will keep you working when things start to slow down.  

5. It’s OK to do things for free sometimes. Have you ever gone out on a clogged tub call for a senior citizen only to find the trip lever down? The tub is actually draining fine, but someone hit the trip lever and made it look like the tub was plugged. Take the time to show the customer this. They’ll be embarrassed, but they’ll be grateful that there isn’t a major issue. The trust you’re building is valuable. This customer will tell their friends and family about their embarrassment and about your honesty. Since you have worked toward earning their trust, they’ll be more likely to go with your recommendations in the future, when something really is wrong.

6. Don’t be afraid to give them bad news. You just cleaned a bunch of roots out of their sewer line. After you get the line open, you see a crack in the line that’s letting the roots in. The line is 7 feet deep and under the driveway. You feel bad for them, so you cut the roots out and call it good. Is that really solving the problem? Your customer needs to be aware that this issue exists and that it needs to be fixed or roots will grow back and, eventually, the pipe will collapse. Don’t feel bad. You didn’t cause the problem, but you can certainly fix it. It’s not up to you to decide what a customer can afford and what they can’t. Remember, you’re there to solve their problem. If you don’t solve it, your competitor will.  

Remember that return customers are the lifeblood of service companies. Follow these guidelines and add a few others that you find successful as well. Before long, you’ll have a long list of loyal customers that won’t hesitate to call you the next time they have a plumbing issue.    

About the Author

Dave Bailey is the vertical market manager of plumbing for Service Nation Inc. and has 25 years working in the plumbing industry — 23 in the field. If you would like to send a message to him, email


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