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Old 09-07-2019, 10:33 AM   #1
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Default It's not what you say, but how you say it.

I was asked to go help out recently on a job in progress. The other plumber is a great guy, very skilled and knows his stuff. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and his forte was not his communication skills. Since I was not the primary guy on the job, I pretty much stepped back and let him continue communication with the client, since I don't know all that was previously discussed, I don't like to butt in or step on toes, he already established a relationship and rapport, such as it was, etc. There were however a few times where I just couldn't help myself. He was trying to explain something to the customer, and she just wasn't getting it. Knowing what it was that we needed to do, I still found myself having a hard time following his explanations due to his excessive and roundabout manner. I felt that I had to jump in and say "What he's trying to say ma'am is this....", in a more concise explanation, which she understood both times without problem, and it de-escalated her attitude, which was starting to get beatchy, partly from frustration at her lack of understanding what he was telling her.
Now to give this guy the benefit of the doubt, she was a real beatch, and probably would not have been happy in the end no matter what was or was not said, but it surprised me how an intelligent guy could not pick up on her reactions, and change his approach, based on past experience and knowing what hot button statements people tend to react to, especially those people who are just miserable any way, and want to look for something to find fault with.
We work on a flat rate, period, and that seems to work well. When they want the bill broken down, we simply tell them that we don't do that. That still does not sit well with some, but at least it doesn't give them any more ammo with which to wage an attack. When it came time to present the bill he doesn't just give her the bottom line, he starts right out explaining every item, number of hours for 2 guys, parts, labor, equipment fees, etc. She went ballistic, and questioned every little thing, but especially the time for 2 guys, which she in her infinite plumbing wisdom decided was not needed for that job. Being a rational and reasonable guy, he was probably thinking that if he were spending all that money, he would want to know what it was going for. Problem is, he didn't count on the other side not being rational or reasonable.
The whole experience was just a good reminder that sometimes less is more. Use simple explanations, one word answers when appropriate, but don't give them any rope to hang you with. You can always go into further detail later if needed, but unless it gets to that point, keep it simple. Some customers are like dogs and small children. You have to speak to them on their level to get the results that you want.
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Old 09-07-2019, 05:32 PM   #2
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Tango, this is a little about what I was talking about in PM...
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Old 09-07-2019, 06:03 PM   #3
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A lot of wisdom in this post.
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Old 09-07-2019, 07:26 PM   #4
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Tango, this is a little about what I was talking about in PM...
I don't have a hard time communicating at all. Everything is explained in a manner they understand. They always are shown what happened, the estimate of the repair in most cases.

They got a crazy customer, a customer who was stuck on prices. Did the dispatcher tell the customer she would be billed 2 plumbers? Over here you are obligated by law to say your rate even if they don't ask. Did he say how much it was going to cost to go there? By being hourly and telling them on the phone most people know it's not going to be cheap. That way and usually the price shoppers look somewhere else.
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Old 09-07-2019, 09:46 PM   #5
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I don't know what's been going on through PMs, but I wasn't insinuating anything about anyone here. There are any number of things that were done differently than I would have, that I didn't get into and which may have also had an effect on that woman's attitude. Most center around how she was communicated with. I suspect that no matter what she still would have been at least somewhat difficult. Part of it was that she wasn't prepared for a worse case scenario. I usually like to do that from the start also. No one likes surprises that cost them more money, and I don't blame them. It does floor me how many service providers don't understand that, and I don't mean just plumbers. It seems to me to be common sense that it would only take one time for you to get an irate customer who is given a higher bill than what they were quoted, for you to not want to make that mistake again, but I have seen guys who do it over and over. I'm not the brightest bulb on the tree sometimes, but if nothing else I learn from past unpleasant experiences. It sucked for me to have to be in that position through no fault of my own, because of someone else's approach.
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Old 09-07-2019, 11:59 PM   #6
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I don't know what's been going on through PMs, but I wasn't insinuating anything about anyone here. There are any number of things that were done differently than I would have, that I didn't get into and which may have also had an effect on that woman's attitude. Most center around how she was communicated with. I suspect that no matter what she still would have been at least somewhat difficult. Part of it was that she wasn't prepared for a worse case scenario. I usually like to do that from the start also. No one likes surprises that cost them more money, and I don't blame them. It does floor me how many service providers don't understand that, and I don't mean just plumbers. It seems to me to be common sense that it would only take one time for you to get an irate customer who is given a higher bill than what they were quoted, for you to not want to make that mistake again, but I have seen guys who do it over and over. I'm not the brightest bulb on the tree sometimes, but if nothing else I learn from past unpleasant experiences. It sucked for me to have to be in that position through no fault of my own, because of someone else's approach.

it was not a complaint about you, you made a good point on your post and it related to a private discussion..
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Old 09-08-2019, 12:02 AM   #7
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I don't have a hard time communicating at all. Everything is explained in a manner they understand. They always are shown what happened, the estimate of the repair in most cases.

They got a crazy customer, a customer who was stuck on prices. Did the dispatcher tell the customer she would be billed 2 plumbers? Over here you are obligated by law to say your rate even if they don't ask. Did he say how much it was going to cost to go there? By being hourly and telling them on the phone most people know it's not going to be cheap. That way and usually the price shoppers look somewhere else.

your missing my point...its not what you say..its HOW you say it...that makes all the difference in the world on how the customer hears the same info..one way can infuriate them another way they love you...you need to figure out the delivery for each person..
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Old 09-08-2019, 12:44 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
I don't have a hard time communicating at all. Everything is explained in a manner they understand. They always are shown what happened, the estimate of the repair in most cases.

They got a crazy customer, a customer who was stuck on prices. Did the dispatcher tell the customer she would be billed 2 plumbers? Over here you are obligated by law to say your rate even if they don't ask. Did he say how much it was going to cost to go there? By being hourly and telling them on the phone most people know it's not going to be cheap. That way and usually the price shoppers look somewhere else.

your missing my point...its not what you say..its HOW you say it...that makes all the difference in the world on how the customer hears the same info..one way can infuriate them another way they love you...you need to figure out the delivery for each person..
I think you're right about this.

I think I've told this before but when I was at roto rooter there were guys who constantly complained of only getting "price shoppers" and that's why they would have low close rates. Meanwhile, we were all getting the same customers. Some guys made good money, had good reviews and had high close rates.

It's all about the approach. If your way is not working and every customer is a problem maybe the way you deal with them needs to change. I'm guessing other companies in your area are dealing with the same customers and at least some are succeeding.

Sometimes it doesn't matter if you're the best plumber in the world. If the customer doesn't like you for whatever reason they're probably not going to call you back or give you additional work.
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Old 09-08-2019, 01:02 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by goeswiththeflow View Post
I don't know what's been going on through PMs, but I wasn't insinuating anything about anyone here. There are any number of things that were done differently than I would have, that I didn't get into and which may have also had an effect on that woman's attitude. Most center around how she was communicated with. I suspect that no matter what she still would have been at least somewhat difficult. Part of it was that she wasn't prepared for a worse case scenario. I usually like to do that from the start also. No one likes surprises that cost them more money, and I don't blame them. It does floor me how many service providers don't understand that, and I don't mean just plumbers. It seems to me to be common sense that it would only take one time for you to get an irate customer who is given a higher bill than what they were quoted, for you to not want to make that mistake again, but I have seen guys who do it over and over. I'm not the brightest bulb on the tree sometimes, but if nothing else I learn from past unpleasant experiences. It sucked for me to have to be in that position through no fault of my own, because of someone else's approach.
"It seems to me to be common sense that it would only take one time for you to get an irate customer who is given a higher bill than what they were quoted, for you to not want to make that mistake again," Seems like a lot of wisdom to me.
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Old 09-08-2019, 09:08 AM   #10
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your missing my point...its not what you say..its HOW you say it...that makes all the difference in the world on how the customer hears the same info..one way can infuriate them another way they love you...you need to figure out the delivery for each person..
I understand what you are saying. I guess you never read my reviews they speak for themselves. There are many people who whatever how you say something they will be a problem throughout. Those who complaint from the start on the phone will still be an A-hole once on site. You could be nice or firm or a d.i.c.k they still are going to give you a hard time.

What I do like to know however what kind of speech and how it will sound like so I can use it in case you don't have a normal customer.

Maybe I can find a book of psychology of speech.

Like I repeat over and over :
Psychologist first
Businessman second
Lawyer third
Plumber at last
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