Customers Crave Options. Are Your Techs Trained to Deliver?

By: Julie Crisara

Of course we want our team to perform at their peak performance, but it’s easy to get bogged down in all of the other operations that service managers have to deal with. Things like customer service, sales reports, and even HR issues. It can be tempting to focus on putting out fires, and forget to get back to the root of your company’s success: employee onboarding. Your company may be solid and revenue may be respectable, but failing to train employees correctly from Day One could leave your business falling short of its potential.

One of the really common areas for dropping the ball is when a technician arrives at the customer’s house, analyzes the problem, and quotes a simple price to do a simple fix, period. No discussion, no explanation of the intricacies and, most importantly, no options when it comes to service.

“Looks like you need a new fan belt. That’s $186, labor included.”

That line may sound okay to a lot of service managers, but it could be the killer to your business. What’s wrong with it? You’re not giving customers what they really want: options.

Don’t Just Fix It and Go

Technicians are often averse to giving customers too many options when they present the diagnosis. Often the tech feels a lot more comfortable just scrawling a few words and a price on a piece of paper. Keep it simple, they feel. Don’t make things more difficult and challenging when it comes to closing the deal. Here are the four main reasons why techs don’t offer service options.

  • Price: The tech fears that the customer will fear a higher price. Any price higher than the bare-bones bottom option may shock the customer right out of being a customer.
  • Too Much Thinking: The tech fears that forcing the customer forced to think about more than the most basic information—and the most simplistic solution—will make the customer irritated, thus compromising the sale.
  • Time: The tech fears that the customer will resent any interaction that takes up even a few minutes more of their time, even if it means a far greater understanding of their equipment.
  • History: Many service providers, contractors especially, do not offer levels of service. They don’t present options. They just have one service they’ll do at one price, and it’s as simple as that. The tech is afraid that the customer will balk and say, “But Bravo Electrical never offers me various levels of repair or mentions circuit breakers. They just fix my wiring at a reasonable price. Why don’t you?”

Why Options Matter

The above objections are all easily destroyed when you understand what multiple customer options really mean—and why they are essential to the high-quality service that your contracting company must provide. Giving a customer options is an integral part of superior customer service.

A customer goes where a service professional confidently leads. Price fear is a natural thing for any sales person (and every service techs works in sales, after all). It’s the worry that if a price uttered to a customer is any higher than the line they’ve already drawn in their mind, they’ll angrily turn their back on your or hang up the phone.

But this almost never, ever happens.

A customer goes where a service professional confidently leads.

Sure, a few might balk, but they’re also likely expecting a comeback. There’s always a reply. The tech could say, “I always give my customers at least a few options, but I understand if the premium or mid-level is not for you. I think you’ll realize that our economy option is the price point that you’re comfortable with, and it’s still a great option. So what should we do?”

The more service professionals practice saying different prices (especially higher prices) and letting the customer decide, the more they will say them with assuring confidence. Plus, you’ll find that more often than you expect, the customer will take your mid-level or premium option.

Those advanced services benefit the customer, too. But you have to train your team to emphasize the importance your services have on the safety, comfort, and health of the customer’s family or business. They’re the professional experts, so don’t worry about the time and thinking involved to explain your service options.

It’s All in the Delivery

That equipment problem, whether a broken fan belt or a busted screw, has a lot more connected to it that might be solved with a quick fix. Sure, that could be absolutely the only thing that the customer needs, but there’s a good chance that other parts of the system are worn out and are going to break in the near future. Perhaps other belts. Or other smaller parts that are vulnerable to wear and tear. Maybe the customer’s whole system is worn down and could be replaced by a brand new state-of-the-art-system that would give them superior results and money savings in the long run.

It would be dishonest to only suggest the most comprehensive, expensive option. But including that as the premium option, along with cheaper options, is great customer service. 

What Would You Want as the Customer?

I own a cell phone, which makes me like 99 percent of Americans. I appreciate that my service provider offers a bunch of different levels to which one can subscribe. If you just want to talk and text with a bit of data usage, its $40 bucks a month. Add more data for $50. Add international calling and its $60. They’re all good deals. It just depends upon what you’re into and what your situation calls for. Just one level wouldn’t be good for everyone. But everyone takes the price and service level that they need and are comfortable with.

It would be dishonest to only suggest the most comprehensive, expensive option. But including that as the premium option, along with cheaper options, is great customer service. 

Everyone is always searching for that elusive “honest mechanic” when it comes to getting their car fixed. And they do exist. I’ve had a few. When it comes to some larger problems with your car, the honest mechanic will tell you a few options, starting with the most limited but necessary and works his way up to the more comprehensive and expensive. But he explains every option, why you might realistically need the additional work, and how long your car will be running fine if you don’t get that repair or replacement done now. He will gladly let you walk out of there having replaced only the tie rod end and nothing else. No guilt trip and no dishonest, extreme upsell. Just the facts. And those customers? They always love that mechanic, write great reviews, and tell everyone they know to go to him.

The Bottom Line

A contracting tech taking the time to write down 6 different service options on paper with a brief explanation and price for each is the first, tangible evidence a customer sees of serious, diligent customer service. It shows an investment of the tech’s time and energy right there. It inspires confidence and awe. “Wow, this guy’s really working before he knows for sure a dime is gonna be spent.”

Giving options is ethical because it gives customers power and information. It puts them in the driver’s seat. Maybe your customer has a very large budget for building maintenance and improvement and they want to spend in that area to keep things in ship-shape. Maybe they’re concerned about the heavy use their business puts on their equipment. Maybe they are obsessed with having the absolute top, platinum-level product in service in everything they own. That’s why you offer an economy option to everyone, but don’t deprive customers who want or need a higher service option by just giving one price and one fix.

Multiple options for every job is the ethical, honest, customer-service oriented way to go—and it is a must for employees of any outstanding service company.

Be a window showing your customer options, not a door blocking their view.

Joe Crisara is a worldwide sales educator, author and entrepreneur. He is also the proud owner of ContractorSelling.com, Total Immersion Service Sales Summit and Jobi. With 35 years’ experience in the small service business and consulting industry, he is a seasoned service expert. He has traveled the country educating thousands of owners, managers, technicians and sales professionals on how to change their thinking and grow their sales. Joe has a true desire to help small service businesses become as successful as possible. Whether guiding blue-collar workers on a live coaching call, through in-person workshops, or via print, video or audio materials, you will feel his passion to transform your personal economy. Read More »

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