The dog days of summer will soon be upon us and the demand for HVAC services is already rising. In fact, 80% of HVAC providers acknowledge that their technicians will need to work overtime to meet the increased need for summertime services. As the owner or manager of an HVAC company, you might have considered enlisting the help of a call center to ensure that customer inquiries do not fall through the cracks. As you evaluate potential providers, it is helpful to seek call centers who offer the 7 services below to represent your business.
1) Ask for Call Center Hours
“51 percent of consumers say a business needs to be available 24/7. According to this 2016 report, a business needs to be on at all times–and not just “on,” but engaged.”
– Nicolas Cole, Inc.com
A growing number of consumers are demanding around the clock responsiveness. It is no longer enough to simply have a “Contact Us” page on your website that provides customers with a way to leave an online inquiry and then wait to receive a response. Today’s customers are seeking immediate access to live personnel who can answer general HVAC questions and schedule appointments.
Because HVAC emergencies can strike in the middle of the night or on the weekends, you should make sure that the call center you choose offers the opportunity for customers to engage with live representatives throughout the day and night, 365 days per year.
2) Possess a Working knowledge of the HVAC Industry
Choosing a call center with at least a decade of experience assisting HVAC customers will set your HVAC company apart from the competition. Virtually anyone can respond to a telephone inquiry but a respondent who actually understands the HVAC industry is invaluable. As you compare call centers, look for providers who possess the following:
- A working knowledge of basic HVAC terms and jargon
- Long-term experience serving companies in the HVAC industry
- Awareness of key services provided, such as emergency assistance, mobile repair, and annual service packages
3) Offer Bilingual Call Center Representatives
“More than 1 in 5 people living in America speaks a language other than English at home, while more than one in 10 speaks Spanish, according to the latest United States Census Bureau American Community Survey. It also revealed that 8.6 percent of the American population is considered limited English proficient, meaning they speak English ‘less than very well’.”
– LanguageLine Solutions
The percentage of Americans who speak English as a second language is growing every day. As the majority of people are more comfortable communicating in their native language, it is wise to give preference to call centers that hire bilingual customer service representatives. Call centers that have multiple Spanish-speaking employees are ideal, as Latinos are now accounting for over half of the population growth in the United States.
4) Schedule Service Appointments
Some of the most accomplished call centers earned their stripes by offering value-added services that most call centers fail to offer. Appointment scheduling is one of the best examples of this practice. By providing your call center with access to your calendar of service appointments, you enable them to fill available appointment slots with service visits for callers who call in the middle of the night or on holidays. This minimizes administrative work for HVAC employees during regular business hours.
5) Request References
As you evaluate call center options, you should always request a list of current and past customers. Make sure to request a list of clients in the HVAC industry so that you can gauge how well the call center would handle your business. As you speak with individuals on the reference list, you can gain valuable insight into their ability to handle your business by asking the following questions:
- “How would you rate your experience with the call center on a scale of 1 to 10?”
- “In what ways has using this call center improved your business?”
- “How do you train your reps to respond to a customer who demands immediate service at 3 a.m.?”
- “What are the greatest challenges you face with HVAC customers and how do you overcome them?”
6) Prioritize Service Requirements in Queue’s
Call centers with experienced, well-trained agents are able to isolate true emergencies from the overwhelming majority of HVAC issues. They know when to connect customers with emergencies directly to on-call staff for troubleshooting. This practice accomplishes three goals:
- It saves times for the customer, who is able to receive a quick response
- The on-call technician is able to gain a first-hand understanding of the HVAC issue
- Establishes a protocol for determining what constitutes an emergency
7) Ask about Full-Service Customer Support
As a business owner, you can enjoy more of your time by taking advantage of more than dispatch services. In the HVAC realm, this means providing customers and employees with access to some or all of the services below:
- Virtual Receptionist
- Remote Monitoring
- Employee Tracking
As you inquire about these services, be sure to ask the call center manager if discounts are offered with the startup costs. Many vendors are willing to offer new customer special incentives for buying a premium package or signing for a year commitment.
The Bottom Line
Gaining a competitive edge in the HVAC industry is best achieved by enlisting the services of an accomplished call center. Not all call centers are created equal, so it is essential to thoroughly evaluate prospective providers to ensure that you make the best choice for your business. Ideally, you should select a call center that operates around the clock and possesses at least a decade of experience responding to the unique needs of HVAC customers.
Westpark Communications exhibits all of the qualities outlined above and possesses the resources and expertise to help your HVAC business prosper. We invite you to contact us to learn how we have helped HVAC companies across the United States bolster their responsiveness and grow their businesses. We look forward to becoming your most trusted communication resource!