Tools for Professionalism in Customer Service

Interview with Steve Coscia discussing professionalism in the HVAC and other service industries:

Today we have Steve Coscia, author of “HVAC Customer Service Handbook”, speaking with us. Steve’s book gives service professional the strategies and techniques required to deliver world-class customer service. Hello Steve.

Irene: What inspired you to write “HVAC Customer Service Handbook”?

Steve: After performing a few HVAC customer service speeches and writing several customer service articles for HVAC trade magazines I observed how little information there was for the front-line HVAC Rep so I wrote the book. Thus far the book has been very well received by the HVAC trade press.

Irene: Tell us about your personal experiences you have had that led you to share your knowledge with others.

Steve: I simply taught my HVAC clients to implement the same customer service strategies that I used successfully for twenty years. My background was in customer service management. Regardless of the industry, when the service infrastructure is stable then world-class service delivery is attainable. I selected HVAC because I kept attracting more HVAC contractors and distributors as clients.

Irene: Although this book is written primarily for the HVAC industry, I would assume it could apply to all industries. What other industries do you believe would benefit from using this book as a teaching tool?

Steve: Due to the trade anecdotes in the book, I believe that electricians, Plumber Leumeah, general contractors, roofers, landscapers, etc. would benefit from the book. The anecdotes depict scenarios in which most customers are homeowners and the service provider is usually a tradesperson.

Irene: Why do you believe that customer service representatives, in this case in the HVAC industry, are stressed out?

Steve: Customer service reps in almost every industry are stressed out – it’s the nature of the work. HVAC reps handle volatile situations such as when a customer’s heating system breaks down on a zero degree day at 1:00 in the morning. That situation is stressful for the HVAC rep and these events arise every day. Due to the volatile nature of these events, a stable problem solving infrastructure must prevail – if not the event will exacerbate.

Irene: Do you believe that problem solving must start at top management before it filters down to the service reps? If so, how is this possible?

Steve: Yes because management must lead by example. Management’s role is also to invest enough time and resources in building a stable information sharing infrastructure which is the best way to avert problems.

Irene: There are stereotype images of customer service representatives in many of the service industries, for example, plumbing and electrical. Why do you believe this occurs?

Steve: Some of this may be due to bias. I suppose that blue-collar workers may not always convey a very polished image – but when HVAC reps are needed to fix a broken pipe or to warm up a home then blue collar skills become vital and appreciated.

Irene: How do you believe the bias of the customer could change before they are needed?

Steve: New experiences change the way a person thinks. If a customer encounters numerous HVAC reps who behave with courtesy and professionalism then that customer’s beliefs will eventually change. It takes time – but it’s never too late to start.

Irene: Your book details tools for HVAC customer service representatives. Would you share with the readers several of the key changes that the representatives need to make as a whole.

Steve: The key change that I advise readers to make includes using a stable, problem solving system I entitle CONTAIN, QUALIFY and CORRECT. The book includes a sequential flowchart of how this process works. This approach includes the assumption that customers usually call because something is wrong, therefore containment is necessary so things do not get worse. The problem must then be qualified using active listening skills and then corrected using a stable in-house system.

Irene: You mentioned earlier that the blue-collar workers may not have a polished image. With that could come a bias on their part of not accepting your problem solving system because they don’t believe there is a problem. How do you propose they take your book seriously?

Steve: There’s always room for improvement. Any open minded person will easily perceive the value in my book after reading the first anecdote. I wrote the book, based on actual case studies so that readers will easily see themselves in the anecdotes.


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