Service managers can usually attribute their customer service roots to a job they held as a teenager. My customer service career began in October 1970, when I landed a part-time job delivering groceries for a local market. Entering the homes of our customers was neither difficult nor uncomfortable—all I had to do was be myself. My parents had taught me about respect, serving others, and honesty, and the lessons stuck.
Serving customers during those early years was an education in itself. I learned that people come in different shapes, sizes, and dispositions. The customers who anticipated my arrival welcomed me into their home and prolonged my delivery with chitchat. Only a few customers thought I was unfit to enter their abode—or, they perceived me as an interruption and stopped me at their front door, grabbed the groceries, and sent me on my way. Either customer disposition suited me just fine because my primary concern was that orders were accurate, delivered on time, and in good condition. The most profound lesson I learned was twofold: always maintain a positive attitude, and establish a stable service infrastructure.
What I didn’t realize back then was my behavior had a direct impact on my boss’s long-term business success. Our customer’s impression of the food market was highly contingent on my behavior, my tardiness and my attention to detail.
Likewise, field professionals, such as HVACR service technicians bear the same burden.
In a residential service transaction, both the customer and the service company agree to specific terms and conditions. The service company may agree to be on time, to be courteous, to be professional, to dress neatly, to resolve problems, and so forth. The customer’s primary obligation is to pay the invoice. The customer’s behavior is usually not a factor listed among the business terms and conditions. Therefore, service professionals who seek payment will overlook customer misbehavior and treat the customers as though they are right.
Whether a residential customer greets a service professional with a warm smile or a cold frown, the service professional must always maintain a positive attitude. A service professional’s attitude will affect his or her aptitude or ability.
Body language such as facial expressions and posture play a significant role in exhibiting attitude. The demands of serving residential customers require a strong balance between attitude and aptitude, especially during busy seasons. Service professionals who maintain a positive attitude enable themselves to perform at peak aptitude. When a difficult or terse customer unnerves a service professional, attitude is apt to suffer. When the attitude goes south, the aptitude is usually not far behind.