Being an HVAC technician isn’t all just about working on heating and air conditioning systems. Sure, that is a big part of the job and it requires a lot of in-classroom training and education to become a master of that trade. However, often overlooked as another important aspect of life for an HVAC technician – almost equally important as working on equipment – is working with people.
Talking with customers before and after your inspections or repairs is integral to the process of helping your customers fully understand the situation they are experiencing. Chances are, the people you’ll interact with on a daily basis as an HVAC technician won’t be very happy to see you. They are likely going to be uncomfortable, given the condition of their comfort system, and also looking down the barrel of a hefty bill.
The circumstances in which you’ll find your customers necessitates the need for HVAC to know exactly how to talk to customers. Much like the art of knowing how to fix an air conditioner, correctly dealing with customers who are going to be emotional or even disgruntled is equally an art that takes time and practice.
How to talk to customers is an aspect we cover in-depth here at the Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning, so let’s cover some of the basic principles here now.
Be respectful at all times… no matter what
You’ve just broken the news to a customer that they are going to have to spend a couple of thousand dollars on repairing or installing a new air conditioner in the middle of summer: tempers are going to be high. Customers may get mad, they may even get downright nasty with you.
What is important in this situation is no matter what happens, it is the responsibility of the HVAC technician to remain calm, cool, and collected at all times and be respectful to the customer. Always keep your voice down, always address your customer as “sir” or “ma’am,” and never ever stoop to any nastiness, even if they start it first.
Always keep in mind that your behavior and how you conduct yourself doesn’t just affect you. When you are on a call and interacting with a customer, you aren’t just representing yourself, but you are also representing the company you work for.
Leave the technical jargon at the office
Heating and cooling technicians possess a skill set and knowledge that few do. The training you go through that gives you the ability to look at, understand, and repair an HVAC system requires an understanding of a certain set of words, terms, equipment, and lots of technical jargon to go along with it.
While commonplace to you, the terms you use during the course of your job are completely foreign to your customers. Using words and terminology that your customers are likely not going to be familiar with puts them at a disadvantage in the conversation and can make them feel like you outsmart them in the conversation by talking circles around them.
While you of course do have a better understanding of the situation than your customer does, you never want your customer to feel talked down to. So, keep all the technical jargon back at the office when you are talking to your coworkers. Always keep any technical talk with customers in a manner or presentation that they can easily understand so they don’t feel out of the loop. It is their system after all.
Give it to them straight
A lot of times as a technician you have to give customers bad news. Something is broken, it needs to be fixed or replaced, and it may not be cheap. Think about how you would want to be treated if the shoe was on the other foot. Would you want your service tech to dance around the facts, throw around a lot of hypotheticals, relying on technical jargon, and wait to dump any information on you until after you have received the estimate?
Or, would you prefer your tech to give you the news straight and upfront so that you know exactly what the issue is and how you can fix it? We imagine, like us, you prefer option two. Bad news is always going to be bad news. But, if the person delivering the news is honest and upfront, it always tends to soften the blow a bit.
Dealing with customers the right way is just as important as fixing their heating and cooling systems. That is why at the Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning this is a subject that we spend a lot of time on. If you are interested in beginning your career as an HVAC technician, learn more about our available and upcoming classes by calling us at 281.580.4239.
Over the course of doing their job, HVAC technicians, like other professionals in the home service industry, have the unfortunate task of dealing with difficult customers. While that isn’t unusual for professionals in other fields of work, there are a few reasons why it can happen so frequently for home service professionals.
Perhaps the most relevant reason why is that HVAC technicians rarely interact with a customer when they are having a wonderful day. The entire reason you are there is that they are in a difficult situation, either something is wrong with their heating or cooling system and they are super hot, cold, or uncomfortable making them agitated or unhappy before you even arrive.
In addition, because of your service, they are likely looking at a somewhat sizable bill. While HVAC technicians provide an important service, they aren’t always the bearers of great news. Unhappy customers may feel more inclined to voice their displeasure because they are in their own home as well, especially if they’ve had a poor experience in the past.
Combine all the factors that can make a customer unhappy along with any feeling they may get that they received poor service or the job wasn’t performed to their liking and you’ll likely find yourself with a difficult customer.
While you may or may not be at fault, dealing with a difficult customer isn’t fun. But if you do, use these helpful tips to help defuse the situation and find the best resolution possible.
If an unhappy customer gets nasty with you, especially if you are in a hot and humid house, it can be easy to lose your temper and get nasty right back. This is the absolute worst-case scenario. If you lose your cool with a customer, it is only going to get uglier, there isn’t likely to be any positive resolution, and the customer is likely to take the complaint up the chain of command and get you in even deeper trouble.
But, if you manage to keep your cool and keep your emotions out of it you will be able to focus on how to deal with the problem and not simply get emotional about the situation. If you are able to speak clearly and calmly, the customer may be encouraged to calm down and follow your lead. Then, once both parties are calm you can focus on finding a solution.
Hear them out
While the service industry saying goes “the customer is always right,” sometimes they simply aren’t. They may indeed have the situation all wrong, be upset and directing their anger about something outside of your power at you, or simply just being altogether difficult. No matter how wrong they may be or how nasty they are about the situation, at least hear them out.
By listening to the customer instead of trying to correct them, talk over them, or argue with them, you can start building rapport with them. It demonstrates to them that you are paying attention to their concerns and listening to them are actively trying to understand and get to the root of the problem. By actively listening and repeating and acknowledging their concerns, your level of care about your job and the situation becomes apparent.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep
While it is important to take the concerns of a difficult customer seriously and to do everything in your power to resolve the situation to their satisfaction, it is also important to realize that the issue may be something outside of your control or something you simply can’t resolve right then and there. For that reason, tell them you will do everything you can to fix the problem but never make a promise you know you can’t keep.
Making and breaking a promise to a customer is a bad road you don’t want to go down. When you break a promise with an already angry customer they feel betrayed and will only flare tempers even more. It also puts you in the unfortunate position of having to backtrack and most likely need to apologize.
It’s OK to fire a customer
Sometimes there’s just no winning with a customer. If a customer is getting downright unpleasant and it is obvious that there is no pleasing them. In the end, you are just going to sink excessive time and energy into them and not see a dime. We call these kinds of clients “tire kickers” and sometimes it is OK to simply fire them.
You hear it all the time from the other perspective, a customer firing their service provider, but it can work the other way too. If you reach a point where the unpleasantness of a customer is too great to handle, refusing to offer your services is a viable, albeit fairly drastic, option.
Don’t take the argument online
If a situation isn’t 100% resolved by the time you leave or you are put in a position where you have to fire a customer, it is a good possibility that they may try and take their complaints to the internet, leaving a negative review or comment. How a home service professional handles themselves online is just as important as how they handle themselves in person, so it is important that you handle negative reviews carefully.
First of all, treat every review respectfully and don’t continue whatever disagreement you may have had in-person online. When you argue with a customer online, you air your dirty laundry in front of anyone who cares to look and can only serve to drive away potential customers. But, if your response is cordial, calm, and inviting for them to contact you directly to once more try and resolve the issue, potential customers will see that as well and see your positive reaction to difficult situations.
Customer service skills are one of the most important skills HVAC technicians need to have in their toolbox, along with the knowledge and skills to repair and install heating and cooling systems of course. Having a thorough understanding of how to provide customer service and deal with difficult customers can help any technician succeed.
Communication and customer service are two areas we focus deeply on during our course here at the Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating as we prepare up and coming Houston HVAC technicians dealing with difficult customers. Contact us to learn more about our classes and enrollment.
Being an HVAC technician involves a lot of very technical and precise work, particularly when it comes to AC installation. This is why a proper education and training is so important for a long and successful career in the industry.
Unfortunately, not all technicians get things right during AC installations. In fact, there are a few practices that HVAC technicians actually get wrong more often than not. Why is that? It could be many things from displacency to simply not receiving proper education.
So, why is it important to talk about the shortcomings of AC technicians? In such a precise field that so many people rely on for their important service, these shortcomings are unacceptable. For those that are considering pursuing a career as a certified HVAC technician it is just as important to know the wrong way as the right way.
As an HVAC professional, you want to strive to provide the best care and service to your customers that depend on you to stay safe and cool. Knowing where others in the industry fall short can help you know where you can avoid the same pitfalls and become a more successful AC technician.
Keep in mind these common mistakes that HVAC technicians make during AC installation. You’ll notice the biggest pattern that emerges from these improper installation missteps is that they each can have serious negative impacts on the performance, efficiency, and lifespan of the air conditioning unit.
70% of technicians don’t follow proper vacuum procedures
One of the most important things technicians ignore not following proper AC vacuum procedures during installation. Vacuuming is important because it helps remove any excess moisture left within the system. Over time, moisture build up can cause long term damage from poor performance, corrosion, and even freezing with the AC system. Never skip this important step in the post-installation process.
70% of technicians don’t adjust for proper air flow
Ensuring an air conditioner has been adjusted for proper air flow ensures that it can efficiently and easily keep in-home air cool and comfortable for the customer. Proper air flow lets air more easily reach all the nooks and crannies, ensuring no random hot spots. When not adjusted properly, the system has a harder time performing and has to put in extra effort to keep the home cool, which not only can shoot up a customer’s utility bill but also causes AC’s to burn out faster than they should.
70% of technicians don’t charge unit per manufacturer recommendations
Correctly charging your customer’s AC system will ensure there is proper refrigeration to pull out hot air and keep their home cool. However, despite the fact that most manufacturers provide step-by-step instructions and offer their best practice recommendations, this correctly charging units often gets overlooked. The result is either an undercharged unit that can’t keep up with the heat and overwork itself or an overcharged unit that is loud and draws far more energy than it needs to.
90% of air conditioning installations are incorrect
Since these three steps during AC installations are so important, it may not be surprising to hear that more installations are done incorrectly than not. But, for an industry that prides itself on hard workers and providing a necessary service to its customers, this is a number that simply cannot continue to last.
Here at the Training Center for Air Conditioning and Heating, we are attempting to lower the statistics through a comprehensive training and education program for the next generation of HVAC technicians. The course is designed to teach students the skills and techniques required for entry-level employment into the residential and light commercial heating ventilating and air conditioning so that they can not just install and repair heating and cooling systems, but do it the right way to better serve their customers and help make them a more successful professional.
Interested in enrolling in an upcoming class? Learn more about how to join here.
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry is expected to grow 14% before 2024 – double the typical growth for most industries. Becoming an HVAC technician is a great way to ensure your skills will always be in demand. Besides the technical skills, in this field, technicians also use practical skills that lead them to success.
For those looking to step foot into the HVAC industry, it is important that you know how to communicate calmly and effectively with those you encounter. When working with many clients, it is important to understand that these clients may be stressed since things are not working the way they are supposed to.
You will need to be able to effectively explain what you are doing in order to help solve the problem at hand. A majority of your customers will not know the technical terms of the industry. Because of this, you will need to be able to explain what you are doing in a way that your customers will be able to understand.
Clients already have high standards for anyone they choose to hire for HVAC work. By explaining the procedures, they will be much more comfortable and confident in your abilities as a technician.
Problem Solving Skills
Troubleshooting is one of the most important skills someone can possess in the HVAC industry. A majority of the time, technicians will receive a call about a system before they have a chance to diagnose the problem. Being able to effectively identify an issue is just one skill necessary to be successful at problem-solving. However, a job may not always be as straightforward as it seems.
When the problem is different than what you originally thought, some quick, creative thinking will help you get the job done. This requires asking the client some questions and working with the system to see what may have failed. The faster you can figure out the problem and design a solution to fix it, the more effective you will be as a technician.
Many technicians deal with multiple calls a day and they have to be able to efficiently finish each task in order to move on to the next call without delay. Staying organized is a large part of being successful as a technician. You must be able to maintain accurate records of each visit, the work that was performed, and any equipment that was used.
Customer Service Skills
Any job where you will be interacting with clients regularly requires excellent customer service skills. Interacting with homeowners, property managers, and building superintendents takes a certain level of finesse that a great technician should have.
Clients often expect a professional attitude and general regard for the customer. As an HVAC technician, demonstrating excellent customer service to your clients will leave an excellent impression on them and encourage them to call you again the next time their air conditioning breaks down.
Developing Your Skills
There are many skills necessary for you to succeed in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry. There will always be HVAC systems which means there will always be people that need repairs and replacements. To be successful in this industry, you need to have an exceptional list of skills and strengths. This may sound difficult, but for the right kind of person, it’s a fun, rewarding, and challenging career.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can succeed in the HVAC industry, contact us today.
What are the signs of a bad HVAC contractor?
Your HVAC contractor’s job consists of more than just repairing your HVAC system. Ultimately, they should be able to help with, or at least identify, other significant problems that could be contributing to high energy bills or an uncomfortable home climate. Keep an eye out for these common signs of a bad HVAC contractor–it may be time to hire someone else.
Most HVAC contractors are honest, hard-working people who just want to make your home as comfortable for you as possible. However, on rare occasions, you’ll find yourself dealing with a less than ideal repair person. If any of these red flags seem familiar, it may be time to hire an alternative:
- Poor ventilation even after repairs
- Skipping measurements
- Poor customer service
- Ignoring the root issue
1) Poor Ventilation Even After Repairs
Part of an HVAC contractor’s job is checking your home’s air ventilation for any potential problems. If you notice that airflow seems nearly nonexistent even after a repair job, it’s probably time to call the contractor back.
Keep in mind that this is a common mistake and not necessarily a red flag on its own. However, if you notice the same problem happening repeatedly from the same contractor, chances are they’re cutting corners on more than just this one area.
2) Skipping Measurements
A good contractor will always measure your home and air conditioning units very precisely to help in their work. If your contractor claims to be able to estimate based on appearances or a similar floor plan, they’re either being careless at best or lazy at worst. Always ask them to measure everything essential to their job before beginning work.
3) Poor Customer Service
At the end of the day, you are buying a service from your contractor. Excellent customer service skills on their part are essential to retaining you as a client. If your HVAC contractor refuses to treat you with the respect you and your home deserve, it may be time to find someone else.
4) Ignoring the Root Issue
If you come down with the flu, chances are you’ll go for extra-strength flu medicine rather than just a pain reliever like ibuprofen. While one attacks the root cause and sickness, the other only deals with one symptom. Likewise, several small HVAC issues are likely connected by an underlying problem. Your HVAC contractor should be able to assess the list of problems and find the ultimate issue to be fixed. Rather than dealing with the symptoms one at a time, start resolving the problem for real by working on the underlying issue.
Pro Tip: A good HVAC contractor knows exactly where to look to find the root cause of your problem. If your contractor seems more focused on just providing a temporary fix, it’s time to find someone else.
Finding a Trustworthy HVAC Contractor
Fortunately, most homeowners’ experiences with HVAC contractors are excellent. You’ll rarely have to worry about these problems. However, if you do notice some bad signs showing up, keep in mind that the contractor is working on your home. If your original choice repeatedly shows signs of a bad HVAC contractor and you are having doubts about them, consider looking elsewhere to ensure you get the experience and service you’re looking for.
What are the signs of a bad HVAC contractor?
If any of these red flags seem familiar, it may be time to hire an alternative: poor ventilation even after repairs, skipping measurements, poor customer service, and ignoring the root issue.
Professional conduct and ethics sound at first like something we all know and don’t need to be told. In regards to the way we treat ourselves and fellow HVAC contractors, this is probably true. However, the definition of professional conduct and ethics needs to expand to include our treatment of customers, employers, and employees as well.
Ethical standards of treatment should apply to everyone in the HVAC industry. Potential customers and employers particularly deserve a professional contractor. While there are no established ethics and code of conduct for HVAC contractors, there are a few universal ethical principles that most people will appreciate seeing. Let’s take a closer look at what those principles are.
Helping Customers vs. Upselling
Any time money is involved, the greed factor comes to play, and with greed comes deception and dirty tricks. This is in no way exclusive to any one group.
For example, let’s say you go to work for a company that pays you a fair wage and you give them a fair day’s work for that wage. There is no reason for you to earn anything except the amount you agreed to work for. At the end of the week, you’re happy with your paycheck, your boss is happy with your work, and the customer is happy with the services you provided. This type of win-win-win situation is fairly common with many business models. However, if the business owner is only interested in sales and offers a high commission only if you sell new systems, customers are at your mercy because they truly have no idea of their options. Unfortunately, businesses focused more on selling new systems than helping people pay about triple what a truly honest business would. This is when greed sets in and businesses forget how to help customers and just sell HVAC systems. This dishonest business practice is far too common.
Pro Tip: Customers just want to make an informed decision without pressure and upselling from you as the contractor. Answer their questions honestly and help them find the best choice for their homes.
Ethical Behavior for an HVAC Contractor
Be honest with the customers and give them all the options. It’s not our job to decide what is best for them, and it’s certainly not ethical to hide options from them.
The same thing comes to being professional in our dealings with one another in the trade. HVAC techs should never feel above performing an installation, for instance. It’s all part of the job.
Red Flags to Watch For
If you notice these red flags after leaving an HVAC training program, take them as a sign of which companies to avoid:
- No recovery or vacuum pumps and equipment on the trucks
- No brazing with nitrogen flushing
- Selling used refrigerant
Practices like these are why it’s so important for us as HVAC contractors to self-police our trade. These shoddy companies either need to get in compliance or out of business.
Maintaining a High Standard
Professional conduct for an HVAC contractor goes beyond simple customer service and courtesy. You must also understand exactly what your client wants and provide it, rather than trying to create more work and thus more profit for yourself. After all, a happy customer can easily become a repeat customer through ethical treatment.
Join the conversation to learn more about professional conduct and ethics for HVAC contractors.