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Becoming a

Professional Technician

Today’s service technician must be educated in major appliances and air conditioning

theory and have the ability to diagnose problems with these products. The service

technician also needs another important tool in their arsenal: customer service

relations. The customer must be satisfied with the service call, the service company, and the

service technician. When the service technician is in a customer’s home, to the customer, the

service technician represents the service company. While the service technician is in the

customer’s home, he or she must be able to accurately diagnose the problem and make

efficient repairs. Repairing major appliances and air conditioners is only part of the job. The

service technician must establish good customer relation skills in order to have good

customer satisfaction. Service companies place service technicians in a unique position that

affects customer satisfaction. The service technician will have to meet the customer face to

face in the customer’s home or place of business. Service technicians meet customers when

their products have failed or are not performing to their expectations or when the customer

has to pay for a service call and repairs when the product is out of warranty.

The service technician has the opportunity to restore customer confidence with the

product when they meet face to face, when they are not satisfied with the product, with the

service company, or with the service technician. In most cases, the service technician has no

control over the customer’s dissatisfaction of the appliance or air conditioner performance.

As a service technician, whether you are just starting out in your career or you have

more experience, you will have to practice good customer relation skills to prevent negative

experiences with customers.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide you with the tools needed to develop and

provide excellent customer satisfaction and to avoid increased customer dissatisfaction.

I will present the information needed to prevent customer relation problems and to promote

customer satisfaction. Also, I will present the skills needed to deal with dissatisfied and

angry customers.



What Is Customer Satisfaction?

Customer satisfaction is the customer’s impression that the service company and the service

technician have done something meaningful and in the way that the customer wants it done.

This is not the same as having done a good job by providing good service. The service

company you are working for defines these concepts, which are generally based on the

technical aspects of the job. However, when the service technician provides good service for

the customer, the customer may not be satisfied. When you are on a service call, the customer

must believe that you provided a worthwhile repair and that you did it in a manner that

pleases the customer. Just remember this: the customer has the final word, whether they are

satisfied or not. As a service technician you must balance what is attainable in your field and

customer satisfaction.

Customer Satisfaction Is Important for Business

From a business standpoint, when a customer is satisfied with the service company and the

service technician, a bond of loyalty begins. When a customer is satisfied and happy, a great

thing happens: they tell their friends and family of the experience. That is the best advertising

for a service company. They do not have to pay for advertising and it brings repeat business

and profits. When you have good customer satisfaction, the customers stay with that company;

they do not have to look for another company to fill their needs. Customers place a high

priority on good service and if they are not satisfied, they will go elsewhere for that satisfaction.

Why Is Customer Satisfaction Important to the Technician?

When the technician finds ways to increase customer satisfaction, they can make the service

call and the job more interesting and rewarding for themselves and their company. Along

with customer satisfaction, the service technician can expect to receive pay increases or even

a promotion from the company. Once the technician has learned customer service techniques

and treats the customer as a special person, it will carry over to other service calls. Going on

service calls to happy customers is more rewarding and less stressful than going on service

calls for customers who are not happy with you or the service company.

What Does the Customer Expect of the Service Technician?

If the customer does not recognize the quality of service being provided as superior, then the

skills of the service technician are not enough. The quality of the service call is whatever the

customer recognizes it to be. When the service technician can recognize what the customer

perceives to be quality service, and knowing what the customer expects, then the technician

will exceed the customer’s expectations. The customer expects the service technician to solve

their problems with their appliances or air conditioner. When the service technician cannot

solve the customer’s problems, or creates new problems, then the customer becomes

dissatisfied with the technician and the service company.

The customer expects the service technician to observe and perform the following:

Arrive at the customer’s home or place of business on the day that the service call is



Arrive on the scheduled time that was provided to the customer.

Identify themselves when they arrive at the service call.

Wear a uniform or have an identification badge that identifies the service company.

Be properly groomed, knowledgeable of the product being serviced, and courteous

to the customer.

Show a genuine concern for the customer’s problems with the product.

Listen to the customer’s complaint and ask questions regarding the complaint. This

will allow you to better diagnose the faults with the product and to efficiently

perform repairs.

Do not leave the customer in the dark about the repairs. Always explain to the

customer what the repairs involve. The service technician must provide the

customer an estimate and a breakdown of the cost for the repairs to the product

before beginning any repairs. At this point in time the customer will have to

provide you with an answer as to whether they want the repairs or if they will

replace the product with a new one.

When the customer tells you that they want the repairs, you will make sure that you

have the necessary parts to complete the repairs. The technician must work quickly

and efficiently to complete the job. Make sure that you have no leftover screws or

parts that belong in the product. Double-check.

When the repairs are completed, you will demonstrate to the customer that the

repair has solved the customer’s problem with the product. You will then offer to

leave the old parts with the customer if they are out of warranty. Let the customer

decide what to do with the old parts.

Leave the work area clean and free of debris.

When you are ready to leave the customer, do not forget to thank them for their


How Can a Service Technician Increase Customer Satisfaction Skills?

The service technician should be aware of specific procedures that will help them to increase

customer satisfaction. By learning these procedures and practicing them so that they become

automatic and natural, the technician should be able to demonstrate better customer skills.

Remember that the overall objective is to demonstrate to the customer your ability to resolve

their service problem, while providing them with great service that will encourage future


The following is a list of actions that the service technician can establish for good

customer relations:

While in the presence of the customer, always respect the customer.

Arrive on time to the service call.

When addressing the customer, always use their name.

F u n d a m e n t a l s o f S e r v i c e

At the customer’s home or business, always respect their property:

Park your service vehicle in the street, not on the customer’s driveway.

Wipe your feet before entering the customer’s home or business.

Use a protective covering for your tools to protect the customer’s property from

being damaged while servicing their product.

When uninstalling an appliance or air conditioner, be careful not to damage anything.

When the repairs are completed, clean up the mess.

Always show a concern for the customer’s problem with the product:

Listen to the concerns of the customer.

Give assurances to the customer that the problem will be solved.

The service technician is building customer confidence by showing their ability to repair

the product. You will maintain a professional appearance and have a great attitude. You will

maintain a clean and properly labeled service vehicle. Most of all, as a technician you will

demonstrate technical abilities in completing the repairs.

The service technician will have to rebuild customer confidence in the appliance or air

conditioner in the following circumstances:

When repairs are completed, you have to resell the product to the customer.

Always avoid any negative comments about the product manufacturer, other

service technicians, the service company staff, or any other service company.

Communication Skills

A service technician must have good communication skills to help them establish good

customer relations. There are three important channels for communicating with the

customer. They are verbal, nonverbal, and paraverbal communications. The reason these

three channels are important is that they can send conflicting messages from each other

since they convey information independently of the others. When the three types of

communications are sending different messages, the customer gets confused, and your

point can be lost. Inconsistency can also create a lack of trust and undermine the chance to

build a good working relationship between you and the customer. If a technician sends a

message with conflicting verbal, nonverbal, and paraverbal information, the nonverbal

information tends to be believed.

Some other skills that you will need include:

Customer empathy

Listening to the customer

Reflective listening skills (feedback)


Asking questions


B e c o m i n g a P r o f e s s i o n a l Te c h n i c i a n

Verbal Communication

As a service technician you must be able to communicate to customers effectively. Verbal

communication is one way for people to communicate face to face. Speak clearly and know

what you are going to say before you say it. Words that are critical, blaming, judgmental, or

harsh tend to create an unwilling and defensive mindset that is not conducive to productive

problem solving. When we speak, only 10 percent of the words we use get through to the

customer. Spoken words are unlike written words, where a person can go over a passage

several times to ensure understanding. It is the technician’s responsibility to make sure that

the message gets across to the customer the first time. Therefore, if you want your message

to be understood, you must be careful of the words you use. Technicians who are well

versed in their fields have the tendency to use industry jargon when speaking to customers.

While this is comfortable for the technician, the customer feels lost in the conversation.

Choose your words with the intent of making your message as clear as possible for the

customer; keep it simple and not confusing.

Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication is the unspoken messages that a technician sends to a customer

by gestures, posture, facial expressions, and sounds. Of the two types of communication

already mentioned, nonverbal communication is considered to be a truer reflection of a

person’s feelings and thoughts. Never underestimate the power of nonverbal communication;

it accounts for 52 percent of what is perceived and understood by others. Our body language

is always communicating to the customer whether we want to or not. Because of this, the

customer is most likely to believe and trust the nonverbal communication over the verbal

communication, especially when both types of communication are contradicting each other.

If what you say to a customer is not supported by your body language, the customer might

interpret your words as insincere. It also tells the customer how you actually feel and that

you do not care about their problems with the appliance or air conditioner.

Paraverbal Communication

Paraverbal communication refers to how we say something, our tone, our volume, our pitch,

and how we pace our speaking and articulation of the sentences we use when speaking with

customers. Remember this: it is how we say something, not what we say. A paraverbal

message accounts for 38 percent of what is communicated to the customer. When speaking

to the customer, a sentence can convey entirely different meanings depending on the

emphasis on words and tone of voice. Here are some points to remember about paraverbal


When you are angry or excited, your speech tends to become more rapid and higher


When you are bored or feeling down, you speech tends to show and take on a

monotone quality.

When you are feeling defensive, your speech is often abrupt.

All of these points will significantly influence the customer’s opinion of the service you

will be providing. The customer must feel that you are treating them as a highly valued

individual who is unique and important to you.


Customer Empathy

Empathy is the ability to place yourself in the shoes of your customer and see through their

eyes, the customer’s point of view. It’s thinking about the customer’s fears, anxiety, and

trying to understand their previous service call experiences (good or bad) before they met

you. Other times the customer is someone you’ve seen before and they are expecting to

repeat a good experience with you. To effectively communicate empathy, you must have

empathy. Your ability to view the situation from the customer’s point of view depends upon

the following:

Observing and listening to the customer’s problem

Imagining yourself in the customer’s situation

Recalling how you felt in a similar situation

Once you put yourself in the customer’s place, you can communicate that empathy.

Remember, it’s our privilege to create a long-term relationship with the customers. So,

listen carefully and look into their hearts before responding. Then, answer with kindness,

thoughtfulness, and understanding. You’ll be rewarded with trust, friendship, and

customer loyalty.

Listening to the Customer

Improve verbal communication by also listening diligently to what the customer has to say.

If you dominate the conversation or don’t pay attention to the responses you’re receiving,

you won’t comprehend the customer’s point of view or know if they truly understand

yours. Listening to the customer will provide you with the following:

You will obtain valuable information about the appliance or air conditioner, the

customer’s perception of the problem, and the customer’s concerns.

You will demonstrate your respect for the customer and your concern for their


When you are in the customer’s home or place of business, do not start to work on the

appliance when the customer is speaking or look at your cell phone for messages without

first listening to the customer’s concerns. When we open our minds to new ideas, we have

the opportunity to learn new things and to hear different perspectives. Give the customer

your full attention. Allow the customer to finish speaking, or wait for a pause in the

speaking before you begin to speak. A good listener will:

Set aside your own thoughts and agendas.

Step into the customer’s shoes and try to see the world through their eyes.

Suspend judgment, evaluation, and approval in an attempt to understand the


Not finish the sentence for the customer; let the customer finish speaking first.

Share with the customer only positive comments.


B e c o m i n g a P r o f e s s i o n a l Te c h n i c i a n

Move your body in response to the speaker, that is, appropriate head nodding and

facial expressions.

Always face the customer and show good eye contact.

Maintain an open posture with arms and legs uncrossed.

Not lean against anything; stand on your own feet. Show good posture.

Reflective Listening Skills (Feedback)

Technicians have a tendency to filter out parts of the message, or to fill in parts that have not

been communicated by the customer. It is important to not only listen effectively, but to

provide feedback to confirm what you think you heard from the customer. Effective feedback

tells the customer that the technician has heard the message and indicates a response to the

message. Feedback includes nodding your head up and down, a particular facial expression,

direct eye contact, or posture. Feedback can also be communicated through words, like “yes”

or “I understand.” Feedback is the technician’s response to the customer, so useful feedback

can only be given when the technician has listened effectively.


Paraphrasing is a form of feedback to the customer. The paraphrase should be in the technician’s

own words rather than using the customer’s words. In other words, do not be a parrot by

repeating word for word. Paraphrasing not only indicates that you are listening, but it gives

the customer the opportunity to verify your understanding of what was said. You do not

want to interrupt the customer while they are stating their issues or explanations.

If you can state the customer’s ideas in your own words, you have demonstrated that

you have listened carefully and that you understand what was said. Even though you are

paraphrasing, make sure you are using words that the customer understands. Good

paraphrasing not only helps the technician understand what the customer is saying; it helps

you to remember what was said.

Asking Questions

Asking questions indicates that the service technician does not understand, or wants to verify

their understanding of the problem with the appliance. This helps focus the technician on the

topic, encourages the technician to talk, and provides the technician with the opportunity to

give feedback. Asking questions will help you to:

Obtain more information that you will need to solve the customer’s problem with

the appliance or air conditioner.

Gain an opportunity to learn what the customer feels about the appliance or air


Questions will help you to discover the customer’s actions that may have caused the

problem with the appliance. By knowing what actions have occurred, it will give you the

opportunity to give instructions that will prevent the problem from recurring. Not asking

questions or not obtaining enough information can lead to a misdiagnosis of the appliance


or air conditioner. It also reduces the opportunity to know how the customer feels about the

appliance. Knowing how the customer feels about the product will help you know what to

do to restore, or improve, customer satisfaction.

Preparing for a Service Call

Before a service technician arrives at a home or place of business, some important steps

must take place first. When you prepare first, you minimize the conditions that can lead to

customer dissatisfaction, while promoting customer satisfaction. Customers expect the

service technician to be knowledgeable about their appliance or air conditioner. It is

essential that you gather as much information as possible about servicing the appliances

and/or air conditioners that you are likely to see in your area. One of the most important

means of receiving information on these products is to attend an appliance and air

conditioning school. While in school or working for a service company, attend any and all

of the manufacturers’ scheduled training sessions. There are also appliance and/or air

conditioning parts distributors that have training sessions. They not only give you

information presented about new product introductions and updates, but also give you the

opportunity to discuss issues that you are seeing in the field day-to-day. Training sessions

also give you the opportunity to interact with other technicians from your area. You may

find they are experiencing the same difficulties, or that they have a remedy for a problem

that you were experiencing. Manufacturer’s service manuals or the service mini-manual

(technical data sheet) that is attached to the appliance or air conditioner is another source of

information. Most contain information on product operation, disassembly, diagnosis tips,

and procedures for checking specific components. These manuals also contain error codes

(on certain models only) that help the technician with the diagnosis. Trade magazines and

periodicals often cover general and sometimes specific appliances or air conditioners and

can be beneficial to the technician or the service company. The Internet is another source for

technical and parts information. Yet another source will be salespeople who sell appliances

and air conditioners to customers based on features that are intended to satisfy the

customer’s needs. These features apply mainly to high-end appliances and air conditioners

that are advertised as being the “quietest,” “most energy efficient,” “largest,” etc. Insights to

these features will help you get an idea of what is important to the customer who purchased

one of these products.

Prescreen the Service Call for Parts

Customers expect the technician to repair the appliance or air conditioner on the first call.

When a service call is placed, customers are facing two major sources of inconvenience:

The appliance or air conditioner is not functioning properly.

They have to wait for the service technician to arrive to repair it.

When a return trip must be scheduled due to lack of parts to repair the product, it further

adds to the customer’s inconvenience, as well as to their dissatisfaction. Prescreening service

calls so that you can attempt to have the proper parts to complete the call will greatly reduce

the dissatisfaction and add to the customer’s satisfaction. It also serves to reduce costs to



your service company. It costs money to schedule a second trip, and the cost can be minimized,

and customer satisfaction maximized, with just a little extra effort from you. Believe it or not,

it’s part of your job description.

Proper Grooming for a Service Technician

As a service technician you have only one chance to make an impression on a customer. Most

customers will be more likely to overlook some flaws in the service call visit if they feel good

about the technician. Customers will be more likely to call back the same company and ask

for the same technician if they like you. First impressions make a technician’s job a little

easier. Make sure that you start your day with a clean uniform and shined shoes. While it’s

difficult to stay fresh all day, an extra shirt or two in the truck, with a shoe brush, will help

you look your best. Shower, shave, (if applicable), and comb your hair (also if applicable).

When you present the image that you care about yourself, the customer will feel that you

care about them, and about their problem with the appliance and/or air conditioner.

When You Arrive at the Service Call

If a commitment has been made between the service company and/or service technician with

the customer, you must arrive on the scheduled date and time—this is what the customer

expects. In many cases, the customer has to make arrangements to be home for the technician

to do the repair. This may include taking time off work, rescheduling other activities, or

having someone else there to let you into the residence. Do not enter a residence, under any

circumstances, where there is a minor child present, unless an adult is present. This is for your

protection along with the minor’s. If there is no adult present, use your cell phone to make

contact with the customer or notify your office to call the customer to reschedule the service

call. Be mindful of the fact that customers are not there for your convenience. You are there to

help their situation. Be on time if a commitment has been made.

If circumstances make it impossible to keep an appointment, call the customer in advance

to let them know that you will not be there. This “phoning ahead” would also include arriving

prior to a prearranged time or date.

When arriving at the customer’s home or place of business, park on the street. A customer

will more than likely be dissatisfied with a service van that leaks oil, or other fluids, onto the

driveway or in front of their place of business. By parking in the driveway, you may block

family members or consumers from entering or leaving the residence/business.

Check your grooming before walking up to the door. Present a positive attitude. To the

customer, you are the individual who will answer all of their questions and solve all of their

problems. Stand up straight, walk to the door with confidence, and convey the image that

you know what you are doing.

When the customer answers the door, greet them by saying, for example: “Good morning/

afternoon Mr. / Mrs. _____________.” This is not only good to establish a rapport with the

customer, but also to identify that this person is the responsible party that you are there to see.

At the customer’s residence or business, identify yourself, your company, and your

intended purpose. For example: “I am ____________ from WXYZ Service Company. I’m here

to service your refrigerator.” Always ask if there is an alternate entrance the customer would

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prefer you to use, such as a garage or a back door. Wipe your feet before entering, and, if

necessary, wear protective shoe covers so as not to dirty or damage carpeting or floors.

If the appliance or air conditioner is out of warranty, explain any service call charges,

diagnostic charges, and establish a method of payment before you begin diagnosing the

problem. This will avoid problems later. If the appliance or air conditioner is under warranty,

you must make sure that your company is authorized to do the repairs. Use protective mats

and protective equipment on your tools and for the product being moved for repairs. Do not

place your tools or other diagnostic equipment on other appliances, countertops, or furniture.

Do not damage the customer’s property.

Repairing the Appliance or Air Conditioner

Before you begin to take apart the product, ask the customer questions regarding the problem

they were experiencing with the product and why they called. This involves actively listening

to what the customer is saying. Do not presume that you’ve seen this problem before, so you

know what it will take to repair it. To the customer, they are the only one having this experience,

and many want to be certain that you completely understand their needs. By listening to the

customer describe the perceived or real problem with the product, you can save valuable time

by not checking or disassembling parts of the appliance or air conditioner that are not affected.

Verify that the product has the problem that the customer described. Customers are not

supposed to know about the technical aspects of their appliance or air conditioner. In most

cases, customers can only relate the end result of a malfunction. Talking to the customer and

asking questions may lead to a completely different condition than the one stated on your

service invoice. There can be several reasons for obtaining an incorrect diagnosis:

The customer’s spouse may have made the service call and did not understand the

nature of the problem.

The person responsible for taking the service call did not get the exact reason for

the call.

The person taking the call used “shorthand” in describing the problem, or all of the

necessary information did not make it into the description of the complaint.

The customer thinks they have a problem with the product, but they do not.

The customer may have forgotten how to use the product, or they forgot to read the

use-and-care guide.

After diagnosing the problem, explain what repairs are needed, and give an estimated cost

to the customer. On some occasions you might have to give a written estimate. Remember,

show empathy for the customer’s situation. When describing the nature of the repair or the

product’s condition, explain it to the customer in a way they’ll understand. Never talk down to

the customer, assuming they won’t understand anyway. That may be the case, but they do not

want to be made to feel unintelligent.

When the repair is completed, demonstrate to the customer that the appliance or air

conditioner is operating properly. This gives the customer the assurance that the appliance

or air conditioner has been repaired and that you have solved the problem. Demonstration

of a repaired product will also reduce the possibility of callbacks, since you and the

customer have witnessed that the product was operating according to manufacturer’s


If the old part is not returnable for “dud” allowances, offer to leave it with the customer.

This will give the customer the assurance that you have installed the parts as stated. Use the

old part to demonstrate the reason that the product malfunctioned. This will help the

customer to understand the nature of the failure and its repair and assure that you are a

trustworthy professional service technician. If the customer does not want the old part,

remove it and dispose of it when you return to your company.

Explain any warranty on the repair, and point the warranty out on the service invoice.

Resell the appliance or air conditioner by reaffirming its features. Give the customer the

satisfaction of feeling that they have selected a quality product and that they can depend on

it. Do not make the customer feel that they are destined to live with recurring problems that

cannot be resolved. If you diagnosed the problem correctly and tested the product according

to manufacturer’s specifications, and the product is working according to specifications, then

there is no reason in your mind to doubt the product’s longevity.

Leave a copy of a written invoice or receipt, signed by the customer, even if the product

is under warranty. Last, clean up the work area (water, lubricants, dirt, or debris) left as a

result of the repair. Thank the customer for their business. Invite future business by offering

the customer a number to call if there are any questions that may arise. Close the service call

by saying “Good-bye,” “Have a nice day,” etc.

Follow-Up Calls

Technicians try to complete all of the service calls within the first trip to the customer.

Unfortunately, most service calls will not be completed on the first trip, but you should try to

make the number of calls as few as possible. This will lead to some customer dissatisfaction,

since they must wait to have their appliance or air conditioner operational, and may have to

make arrangements to leave work early again so that you can complete the repair. How you

handle the follow-up call can help minimize the customer’s dissatisfaction with the delay.

If a part needs to be ordered, or you need to come back to complete the repair, explain the

reasons to the customer. If possible, give the customer an approximation as close as possible

on when you will return to complete the repair. If you cannot estimate the date of your return,

advise the customer that you or someone from your company will be contacting them to give

them an update on the status of the delay and when the service call can be rescheduled. It is

absolutely critical that the customer is contacted within a day or two, even if the status is yet

unclear, to keep them from wondering if anyone is actively working on the problem. Many

customers do not realize that their appliance or air conditioner repair is one of many to your

company. The customer should be made to feel that they are receiving your utmost attention,

and that you are doing everything possible to complete the service repair.

Things to Avoid While on a Service Call

There are some things you’ll want to avoid while on the service call that can turn a good

impression into a bad one. The customer is a valued person and should be treated as one.

Keep a positive attitude when dealing with the customer. Make every effort to keep your

conversations with the customer on a professional level. It is okay to be friendly, but avoid

becoming too familiar. Here are some other things to avoid while on a service call:

Avoid placing blame on the appliance or air conditioner, its design, the person who

installed it, the company that built it, other technicians and other service companies,

etc. It serves no purpose to point fingers. As long as the problem is taken care of, the

customer probably doesn’t care who or what caused it.

Avoid a negative attitude. You are representing your company, and the perception

the customer forms about your company is based largely on you.

Avoid getting too technical when explaining the repairs required. Don’t talk down

to the customer, but try to speak to them in a way they’ll understand.

Avoid profanity or joking around with the customer. There are limits to how friendly

you should be with a customer. You are a professional and should act like one.

Avoid causing damage to the appliance or air conditioner or to the customer’s

home. You are there to correct a problem, not cause a new one.

Avoid making promises you can’t keep. You need to maintain a balance between

serving the customer and running a business. Some things just aren’t doable. Be

realistic in attempting to satisfy the customer. Making a promise and failing to

follow through will make matters worse.

Avoid leaving the customer without an explanation of the “next steps,” if needed.

If parts are required, or another service call will have to be scheduled, make it clear

that you or someone from your office will be contacting them and give them an

estimate of when. If the customer needs to make arrangements with someone else to

resolve their problem, advise that they should call the dealer or electrician, plumber,

etc., and give them the reason why they’ll need to do it.

Avoid using the word “can’t.” Most customers don’t care about what you can’t do.

They are only interested in what you can do. Do not give the customer any reason to

tell you to leave; they will call someone else to repair their product.

How to Turn Customer Dissatisfaction into Customer Satisfaction

There will be a time when your best efforts will not be enough and your customer will be

dissatisfied. Unforeseen circumstances, a missed diagnosis, a problem where you couldn’t

keep an appointment are all events that can lead to customer dissatisfaction. While these are

things that should be avoided, sometimes they are inevitable. There are steps, however, that

can be taken to regain customer satisfaction:

Apologize sincerely If you are the reason for the dissatisfaction, apologize to the

customer in a way that is sincere. This does not mean a quick “sorry” mumbled

under your breath, but an apology that the customer will understand as being


Fix the problem quickly Okay, you’ve made a mistake and you’ve apologized.

Now, you must resolve the problem and resolve it in a timely manner. All of the

apologies in the world will not help the situation if you don’t take steps to fix it.

Most customers will understand that mistakes will happen. The sooner you fix the

mistake, the more likely the customer will forgive the mistake.

Do something extra Having apologized and fixed the problem will not necessarily

bring the customer to a feeling of satisfaction. They may no longer be dissatisfied,

but there is more to be done to bring them back. It doesn’t have to be anything

extraordinary, but something that the customer would not expect. You could offer a

free inspection of another appliance or air conditioner. Also, you could offer an

extension of the labor warranty. This will depend on your company’s policy and

capabilities and should be checked prior to making the offer.

Finally, follow up After the service call has been completed, call the customer to

check up on the appliance’s performance. Follow up by sending a letter thanking

them for their business and making sure everything is satisfactory. You must

demonstrate to the customer that you are making a conscious attempt to regain

their business and make them feel important and valuable.

A customer who experiences too many incidents that lead to dissatisfaction may never

be brought back to being satisfied, no matter what you do or how many times you apologize.

Obviously, the best way to avoid recovering customer satisfaction is to do the service call

right the first time.

Angry Customers

Customers become angry when their dissatisfaction is poorly managed. By taking the

appropriate steps in dealing with an angry customer, you can minimize their anger, resolve

their problem, and end up with a satisfied customer. These steps, as they apply to the service

technician, can be summarized as follows:

The service technician sets the tone by being calm and using reason.

The customer expresses feelings and facts about the problem.

The service technician, after listening carefully to understand the feelings and the

facts, responds to the customer’s feelings by expressing understanding, and

responds to the facts by suggesting a solution to the problem.

The service technician ends the process by focusing on the positive.

Don’t Lose Your Cool

As a trained professional, it is your responsibility to maintain your self control. The customer is

frustrated by the situation, and has become angry. If you become angry as well, the customer is

likely to respond with increased anger, and to focus the anger on you. While you cannot

control the customer’s response, you can influence it by remaining objective, reasonable, and

calm. Remember, the customer is frustrated because things are not as they expected. Their

anger may not be directed at you, but you may not be the cause of the anger, and should not

take it personally. If you are the cause of the anger, apologize sincerely. Let the customer

know that you acknowledge the anger, and that you will take actions to correct the cause. Let

the customer express emotions and facts verbally, but remain calm. Do not panic, and do not

respond with anger.

Encourage the Customer to Vent Their Emotions

When consumers’ expectations are not met, they are likely to become angry. The anger is

likely to increase if the customer feels powerless to correct the problem. To the customer, it

may seem that the only way they can get the problem resolved is to express their anger. The

result is increased frustration. Allowing the customer to vent their frustrations verbally will

help them relieve some of the frustration, because expressing the anger is doing something

about the problem. Good listening skills, such as providing feedback, will encourage

customer expression.

Find Out the Facts

To correct the problem, you will need to get the facts. With the customer’s expression of

anger, some of the facts will surface. You will need to ask clarifying questions to get all of the

facts you’ll need. Avoid jumping to conclusions about the customer, or about the appliance

or air conditioner problem. Many times you’ll think you know what the customer is leading

up to, but you may be incorrect in your assumption. Continue getting as many facts as you

can about the problem. Ask questions to get clarification that will help get the facts you’ll

need to diagnose the problem. Be careful to ask pertinent questions. If a customer gets the

impression you’re asking frivolous questions that are just wasting their time, they may

become even angrier. Paraphrase the information the customer has given you to check your

understanding of the problem, and to demonstrate to the customer that you are actively

listening and making a commitment to resolve their problem. The facts you are seeking are

not only about the appliance or air conditioner, but about the customer as well. The problem

may be with the customer’s expectations, and not an appliance or air conditioner issue at all.

Understand Your Customer’s Feelings

Use the skills you’ve learned in this chapter about empathy, listening, and providing feedback.

As a service technician, you will have the technical knowledge and skills as well as a concern

for your customer. You have to understand the customer’s feelings and communicate that

understanding to the customer. Acknowledge the customer’s distress and let them know

that you are willing to help. Recall how you felt in a similar situation. Be aware of the

customer’s nonverbal communication. Remember that the customer is aware of what you

are communicating nonverbally. If you listened carefully and got the facts about the product

and about the customer, you will be able to better understand the situation.

Suggest a Way to Fix the Problem

Using the skills learned in this chapter, explain your diagnosis to the customer in terms that

they can understand. Do not talk down to the customer, and do not use terms that are too

technical. This is sometimes the cause of their anger in the first place.

State the problem.

Show or describe where the problem occurred.

Explain how the problem affects the overall performance of the product.

Describe the likely cause of the problem.

Explain what is required to correct the problem.

Explain what can be done to prevent a recurrence of the problem.

If you cannot provide the solution the customer expects, provide alternative solutions,

rather than no solution at all, or explain why a particular condition exists. Avoid using words

like “no” or “can’t.” Give the customer a solution that uses the words “can” or “will.” It is

important that you keep in mind your limits. Do not make promises that you, or the product,

will be unable to keep.

Many of your calls are likely to involve customer error. If the problem is with the customer

rather than with the product, keep your suggestions focused on the product or on the process.

Do not blame the customer for the problem. In most cases you may have to remind the

customer how to set the controls properly or explain how the product functions. In your

attempt to resolve a customer error and not an appliance or air conditioner problem, you

may think that installing a part on the product will make the customer happy. In many

cases, this will only prove to the customer that there is a problem with the product when

there isn’t. This may lead to more problems in the future.

End on a Positive Note

This last step helps ensure that a situation that began in anger ends with a customer who is

pleased by your ability to solve their problem. Good service will help ensure repeat business,

not only from that customer, but from people that the customer talks to about the service you

provided. Believe me, customers talk to each other about service companies and service

technicians. Here are some more ways to end on a positive note:

Do more to solve the problem than a customer would ordinarily expect. Be willing

to go the “extra mile” to demonstrate your willingness to resolve the customer’s


Resell the product by pointing out its useful features to give the customer the feeling

that they have selected a quality product.

Let the customer know that if any further problems develop, you are trained and

prepared to resolve the problem.

Be careful not to make statements that may not be true. Do not promise that this

appliance or air conditioner will last for years or never have another problem.

Never Stop Learning

In this rapidly changing field, you must keep up to date with the changes (Figure 4-1). This

textbook offers you a broad basic background on the appliances and air conditioners that

are already in the field. The one thing we all have in common today is the Internet, where

you can keep abreast of the new developments, changes, and improvements in the appliance

and air conditioner field. Also, there are publications serving the appliance and air conditioner

fields that you can subscribe to. Manufacturers often offer training programs, and studying

manufacturers’ literature will help you to update your knowledge on appliances and air

conditioners. By belonging to a trade organization and subscribing to its publication, you will

have a source for detailed information on any given product. Technical knowledge is a neverending

process. The appliance and air conditioner service industry is a multibillion-dollar

business that is still growing. The benefit of staying abreast of updates in the industry is job

security and a better chance to stay in business, if you are in business, and do not forget your

customer relation skills.

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