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Question: I’m looking for some techniques and ideas for my CSRs when we do not have a full board for our service department. Any call techniques and/or on-demand promotions that we can use to generate appointments?

Weldon Long; New York Times Bestselling Author:

I just went through this a couple weeks ago the client. I was there on a Monday and the phones were not ringing. No phones ringing means no demand calls. They had about 20,000 maintenance customers, 4,000 of them were due for their tune-up but wouldn’t respond and wouldn’t call in. It was really killing their productivity and revenue.

The first thing we did was we rallied all the troops, which was about 15 CSRs and dispatchers at this particular company. We just got them fired up. We told them that what happens in this company begins with them. Everything starts with setting a service call. Your service technicians are fantastic at converting maintenance calls to opportunities. Your salespeople are great at converting those calls into revenue. But, if we don’t have service calls, we’re dead in the water. So, we let them know how important they were to the process. That was step one.

Second, we told them that every time they get a phone call, it was critical to take their time developing a relationship so they could book it. It’s more important than ever with so few calls coming in. When the weather is 68 degrees and beautiful, you have to make sure to convert and book every single call.

Third, you need to make sure that if you don’t have calls coming in that you’re aggressively making outbound calls. We told their CSRs and dispatchers to call those 4,000 people who are due for a tune-up and we changed the message a little bit. My client’s message was related to an email we also sent out (which we’ll talk about last). We left a voicemail that described an offer: “We’re calling to remind you of getting your annual service done. We want to let you know we have an offer right now for free carbon monoxide detectors.” So, we left a message that had some incentive for the homeowner to call back.

Then, we send out an email to those 4,000. Here’s what’s interesting. The open rate on their emails tended to be about four-or-five percent, it was very low. So, I crafted an email positioned as a public service announcement because in their particular market, a man was recently killed by carbon monoxide poisoning. We didn’t do that to scare anybody, we just wanted people to be aware. I took some quotes from the fire department and police that were in the newspaper, saying people should be careful to check their gas appliances for carbon monoxide leaks and to make sure they had carbon monoxide detectors.

To remedy this, we wanted to make sure that the customers were fully protected. So, we announced that with every maintenance call that was booked that week, we would install a free carbon monoxide detector for folks that didn’t already have one. We sent that email out that same afternoon and the open rate was over 30%. Of course, the phone started ringing and they booked dozens and dozens of service calls.

So, it was a four-step process: rally the troops and remind them how important they are, make sure they’re booking every call that does come in, prepare to outbound, and have some type of promotion that establishes a sense of urgency to get people to call in. I think the key thing in this situation is having the mindset that you have to rattle some cages. You can’t just sit back and passively hope the phone starts ringing. You have to be proactive and reach out to your customers.

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