For some kinds of companies, the majority of customer interactions occur inside the homes of their customers. Whether they’re installing security systems, repairing appliances or cleaning carpets, conscientious professionals know that working in other peoples’ homes requires following a few particular points of service that you won’t necessarily find emphasized in storefront operations. Courtesy and communication are paramount because the service provider in these cases is also a guest. Here are some guidelines to follow if you’re a technician or service provider who makes house calls.
Wear a uniform. This is a common practice for employees working at food chains and some retailers, but it’s especially important for making a professional relationship clear when visiting homes. This can be anything from a polo shirt and baseball cap with your company’s logo, to custom coveralls.
Good personal grooming goes a long way. it helps earn the customer’s trust that you’ll also take care of their property and not trash the place. Showing up to a nice residence with white carpets, looking like you just crawled out of a ditch, will not make a good first impression.
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Drive a branded vehicle. If you operate out of your personal car, fix a couple magnetic car signs onto the doors with your logo and phone number.
When you arrive at the customer’s door, smile. Speak in a level voice. Introduce yourself and show your identification, ideally a card with your photo. If a child answers the door, ask for an adult. Hand the customer their newspaper if it was on the driveway or the porch. Explain why you’re there, of course.
Always ask. If you would like to park in the driveway for convenience, first park on the road and then ask if you can park in the driveway. They’ll almost always say yes, and asking just shows that you’re not presuming anything.
Ask to enter the home. Again, they’ll assent because that’s the whole point of your presence there, but the courtesy will help reinforce the customer service relationship.
Put on boot covers in front of the customer before entering the home. Explain that you wouldn’t want to stain their carpets of scuff the floors. When you get to your workspace, lay down protective coverings if necessary.
Compliment their decor, if at all possible. This can be difficult in a run-down mobile home with a dozen cats and trash hoarded up like snowdrift, but do try to compliment something.
Greet the rest of the household if anyone else is present. You’ll be working among them too, so it’s best to make sure they know who you are.
If you’re a dog or cat person, ask the customer if it’s okay to greet the pets. “The majority of dog bites occur in the home,” says Sherry Cross, an attorney with Simmrin Law Group. If the animals are unfriendly, ask the customer to contain them somehow, either by moving them to another room or to the backyard.
Confirm the work to be performed, gathering any needed information from the customer. Ask questions and listen. Repeat information back to the customer in your own words to ensure that you’ve got it right, and to show them that you’re listening. If they have complaints, listen to those too and apologize — even if it’s not your fault — and then seek to remedy those problems.
Don’t just settle down to your work without telling the customer what you’re doing. Estimate time to perform the work and tell the customer your plan.
Do the work. If any difficulties arise, make them known as soon as possible, giving the customer options. If you get a phone call, step outside for the conversation rather than carrying on separate business in front of your customer. Their home is not your office, so you shouldn’t treat it as such.
After you’re done with the work at hand, explain what you’ve done and demonstrate its functionality.
Ask the customer if they have any questions and make sure they understand everything clearly. Then ask if anything could have been improved. Take their suggestions into account.
When leaving, give the customer a small gift, a token of your appreciation. This could be a branded pen, drink coasters or a kitchen utensil like a bottle opener or refrigerator magnet. First, people like promotional gifts no matter how cheap they may actually be for you to acquire. Second, they’ll keep these items around the house with your logo and phone number to use for follow-up work or to recommend your services to their friends.
The emphasis in all of these steps is courtesy and communication. Showing your willingness to satisfy the customer’s needs is really what you’re seeking to constantly convey because, without that courtesy and communication, you’re just another visitor in their home.