I have worked with several break-fix (HVAC, auto repair, home/commercial repair and plumbing) industries in recent months and all have a significant trust issue to overcome with customers. The variation of service and recommendations made to customers in a profession where trust is needed. Advertisements and marketing can not over come the general malaise customers feel when having to pick up the phone and call these establishments for service.
I suspect some are rotten to the core, but my experience working with these folks is that the systems are poorly designed and promote inconsistent and wrong behavior in the eyes of customers. Sometimes its the incentives and rewards workers get for greater productivity or selling a new unit, other times its just poorly designed systems with outdated management thinking.
Whatever it is, when you work with these folks you get a defensive knee-jerk reaction from customers that trust is not present. Most customers don’t need to be prompted about their opinion or require only a small nudge when you ask them “how the service is?”
Missed commitments, unmet expectations, repairs being redone, missing/wrong parts, disappearing acts, over-pricing, under-delivering are just a few of the things customers experience. These all play into the trust factor that customers feel.
As I have collected customer relevant data in these industries the measured performance has been for the most part atrocious . . . as one might expect. Leading one break-fix company employee to remark “we are constantly exceeding low expectations.” Customers can only hope that this is not the vision for a battered industry.
The key to this industry will be to get in touch with their customers viewpoint and not its income statement. The former drives the latter. This is a wide-open industry that requires only one really good company to reverse the trend.
Ways to reverse the trend are to Perform “Check” on your organization. This requires you to go to the point of transaction where the customer interacts. Here, you will understand the “what and why” of current performance. Good questions to ask about your customer management process include:
To rebuild trust in customers there is a general need to change thinking. For management in these industries this will require them to change too.
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Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public). His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work. Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for CustomermanagementIQ.com Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.