Customer service is the backbone to any trade role, especially in the plumbing and heating sector where unexpected costs can arise, and problems can occur.
Knowing how to speak to a customer, how to manage their expectations and communicate well is a vital part of training and something which can be put into practice from day one.
When undertaking an apprenticeship, it is important to choose your placement wisely. Check the company out, do your homework, how do they rate on review sites and google, what do their customers say? If customer service is rated as good, you know you are onto a good firm.
As an apprentice, you can feel like your role is purely to learn your trade, to understand the process and complete your task work. However, listening to a customer is one thing which can’t be taught in the classroom.
The importance of customer service
When you arrive at the job, what does the customer tell you, are they worried about the mess for example and conscious of their neat and tidy home?
Picking up on details like this allows you to say you’ll be wearing shoe protectors and have dust sheets to cover the floor and pre-empt and reassure them that they don’t need to worry.
The same can be said for timings, how does your mentor explain this to the client, do they wait until they arrive at the job and risk the client being unhappy with the delay and start things off on a wrong foot? Or do they call ahead, making the customer aware of the situation and giving them options.
Understanding timings is a huge part of customer service, yet not an obvious one. Most may believe it starts and ends with a good morning and a thank you, but what sets good customer service and great customer service apart is the extra details.
It’s planning when things will arrive, knowing you have enough spares on the van should something break, having a good relationship with your suppliers to know that they can help you out of a sticky fix and maintaining relationships with more than one supplier should your go to be out of stock.
The final thing to consider within customer service is knowledge of new products. The customer may have an idea of what they want, but they won’t have access to new product launches or innovations that your trade suppliers will.
Speaking to your suppliers is a great way to find out what’s new, what alternatives there are and how those products could help your client. Stay on top of the new launches and always suggest alternatives where you feel they’re of value, they’re paying you for your expertise and this little bit of extra knowledge can be what sets you apart from those who stick to what they know without going that extra mile.
The beauty of an apprenticeship is that you can learn on the job in real time seeing how things are done from the ground up. No amount of tuition and classroom-based learning can teach you what you’ll learn by being in someone’s home, on a job.
Derek Aaronson is the CEO of Hart Home Group, the umbrella company for three retail websites; NotJustTaps, Lime Kitchen and Bathroom and Hart Plumbing Spares.