April 14, 2020
You spend time and money coaching, training, and supporting your technicians…but what about the person that delivers your company’s first impression to your customers? On this exciting episode of To The Point, we have the opportunity to chat with Angie Snow, Co-Owner and Vice President of Western Heating and Air Conditioning about the importance of call coaching, especially during a crisis like COVID-19.
At RYNO, we offer call listening and reporting through RYNOTrax to help our clients gain valuable data about their calls. We capture times, dates, info from the calls like whether a service was booked, what type of lead was earned, closing ratios, and more. The variable we can’t control is the CSR that’s picking up the call. Sure, we can identify when the CSR has opportunities for growth, and we can suggest coaching tips to help the CSR develop their skills, but we don’t currently have a call coaching division. That’s part of why this conversation with the call coaching expert is so noteworthy.
As Co-owner and VP for Western Heating and Air Conditioning, Angie does it all. From HR and marking to administrative duties, finances, and business development, she’s involved in nearly every aspect of daily operations. She’s also served on the executive board of directors for Women in HVACR, she is a coach, mentor, and presenter for Snow Business Coaching and Go Time Success Group, and serves on the advisory board for Service Nation Alliance. If that list isn’t already impressive enough, Angie was also celebrated as the inaugural Service World Expo Woman of the Year at the 2016 Service World Expo.
Like many, Angie didn’t seek out the trades; the trades found her. She was originally a teacher, and only after her husband Ryan received his degree in construction management and was hired by Lennox did she stumble into the industry—and she fell in love with it. A friend in Utah contacted Angie and her husband about purchasing Western Heating and Air Conditioning, and they dove right in. They started out with only 4 technicians, and the company was worth just under a million dollars. Now, they have a team of 30 and are five times the size. They continue to succeed by focusing on making smart choices and building healthy relationships with their employees and their community.
They had a lot of struggles as an early contractor, learning how to make it grow and be profitable. After learning and figuring it out, other contractors began asking how they did it. To help others learn the ropes, Angie and Ryan decided to start a coaching/mentoring program, launching Snow Business Coaching in 2018.
It can’t be emphasized strongly enough how important the CSR position is for a contractor. They are the true “face” of your company, and they have 7 seconds to make a first impression to your customers on behalf of your entire company. It doesn’t matter how skilled and experienced your technicians are or how great your services are if your CSR isn’t adequately prepared to bring that business in.
Angie struggled to find good CSR coaches for her teams, and she knew exactly what she needed to do. Like her other ventures, Angie took things into her own hands, developing and testing her coaching methods on her own CSRs, and saw success.
Angie had a pre-existing relationship with Go Time, and they came to Angie when they realized she was onto something with her CSR coaching. Angie put together her methods to make a course to train CSRs using her techniques. She has taught the class over and over, and the results are exciting, backed by over a 1,000 positive reviews as a testament to their value. CSRs taking her classes gain confidence, and learn how to approach a variety of different situations, connect with the client, represent their company, and close the sale. CSRs are often timid because they don’t know about the HVAC business and don’t know how to answer customer questions, but Angie stresses they don’t actually need to know that. Leave that part to the professionals, and focus on connecting with the customers.
How do you empower CSRs in a time such as this? Angie stresses that it all starts from the top. Company leaders need to have confidence, and impart that confidence to their CSRs. Give them the plan, the script, and the tools they need. You have to give them the answers to questions they will be asked so they can have the confidence. If you’re scared and don’t prepare and empower your CSRs, they will be scared and unprepared! That’s going to take a big toll on your bottom line. Customers shouldn’t feel like the company they’re considering contracting for a service is uncertain and confused.
If you’re scared and don’t prepare and empower your CSRs, they will be scared and unprepared!
The key is to think long term. When people are emotional, they make irrational decisions, and that’s what we’re seeing right now all across the world. So, when a customer is calling, they need to be reassured that the company is handling it. You can’t control your customers, or save every call. The CSR’s only job is to be transparent about what their company is doing, have the value statements ready, and stay calm and refreshing to reassure the customer. Sometimes, just listening to the customer and letting them vent can be a big step towards preventing cancellation. The main thing is to preserve the relationship and nurture it so even if a call is canceled, they will stay a customer and come back when all of this passes. That should be your goal for your CSRs as a business owner.
There’s a right and a wrong way to tell your customers about what you’re doing to protect their safety. You can go overboard and actually scare them. You have to be intentional about what you say, and this might mean not detailing every single precaution you’re taking, but rather giving the customer a general assurance that you’re taking necessary steps to protect them. If they want to continue that conversation deeper, that’s fine as well.
“Eliminate fear, build hope and positivity, and don’t add to the chaos”
A good CSR builds a relationship of trust with the customer. They also ask the right questions to give the right answers, and simply listen to customer concerns. It’s a process and it takes a lot of practice, but this focus on CSR coaching is why Western has a 95% average booking rate on their calls; much higher than the industry norm.
Most importantly, you have to listen to the calls to identify areas the CSR needs help with. Keep the process simple and positive, giving feedback in a constructive way. Be gentle, and use positive language. Angie uses “I wish” instead of “I hate” to keep things positive. Set clear expectations, and understand it’s going to be an ongoing process—not an overnight thing. Track it, measure it, and you’ll get there.
We thank Angie for spending the time having this in-depth, tactical conversation with us about CSR coaching and strategies to make your business more profitable during this crisis. If you’ve ignored CSR coaching and call listening and reporting up until this point, you’ve gotta get started now. If you don’t know where to start, you can find Angie through Snow Business Coaching, or get started with RYNOtrax today.