There are plenty of books and podcasts, and even seminars about how to provide excellent customer service. Some business coaches have dedicated careers to providing suppliers of goods and services with the tools needed to keep customers happy and coming back for more.
As a family-owned pool financing company in business for almost forty years, you would think we had heard every possible story and situation. But we haven’t, because every family and their needs are different. And that’s part of what keeps us kind of “on our toes” about managing every customer’s experience. Some people know a great deal about what they want, and others have never considered pool ownership until a former client referred them. We make no assumptions when we answer the phone – we stay in curiosity and never launch a “sales spiel.”
Pool Loans and Technology
Since we have been in business for such a long time, we’ve had the advantage of seeing how pool construction and pool design trends have changed over the years. With the addition of technology that allows pool settings to be controlled from a smartphone or tablet, there have been amazing strides to complement pool maintenance.
The area where technology may be a drawback, however, is in customer service. Every one of us relies on apps and devices to manage our day, our client database, our installation schedules. The place where technology does not belong is as a substitute for the human factor.
We finance pools all over the country, so most of our customer interactions are on the phone. As a team we have learned a great deal about what comprises excellent customer service.
We start with having a live person answer the phone – every time.
We also work together to pool (no pun intended!) our information with one another so we can best share it with our customers. Buying a pool for your home is an amazing experience! Since we are at the beginning of the process we always do our best to ensure that it starts off on a positive note to set the tone from finance to finish. This aspect is very important to the Lyon Financial Team.
We asked the team, as consumers themselves, what they find frustrating when they reach out to a service provider they deal with:
- “I hate calling for information or to get a problem solved and have to phrase my question in a way their voice recognition software will interpret. It is almost like you need to learn a second language! And forget about follow-up questions or if you don’t articulate your statement properly, you will land in a queue in which you do not belong. I find that particularly frustrating and that is not at all what customer service is about.”
- “I don’t like when I call my bank or a credit card company to ask a specific question about my account. After entering all my account information on my phone’s keypad, I am provided the bare minimum of information like my balance and recent transactions, when what I am calling about is for something else. I can get transaction info by logging into my account. I am calling for a reason. Since selecting “0” to be transferred to an operator doesn’t always work anymore, I try to beat the system by selecting the “sales” option. The odds of speaking to a live associate are tremendously increased as they have an opportunity from which to benefit. Then once I’m in, I asked to be transferred to an agent who can handle my issue.”
Lyon Financial’s Tips for Excellent Customer Service
Then we asked everyone to submit their tips for providing the best customer service for our pool financing clients. They came back with some great answers!
- Be honest. If you don’t have the answer, then politely state that and then get it. Not if it means putting the person on hold for an inordinate length of time; call them back if need be. If they are willing to wait for the answer, give them an idea of how long you will have to put them on hold and then cut that time in half by returning to the call sooner.
- Don’t read. Sounding like you are reading from the script posted in front of you is never a good strategy to make the caller feel like their needs are singular and their business important.
- Be interested. Ask how the person’s holiday was or how their week is going.
- Listen. Hear what a customer is saying by more than their words – notice their tone. Do they need to vent their frustration first before they are ready to work on the solution?
- Be tolerant. If you are answering calls for your company, you are on the front line. Verbal abuse by a frustrated customer is unfortunately part of the job, so let them talk themselves out. It can be difficult to maintain an even tone in your response because no one wants to get yelled at, but have empathy. You are a consumer of goods and services as well, so you understand what it feels like if for some reason, you are dissatisfied.
- Be gracious. Use words and phrases like “thank you” and we “appreciate your patience”. If you literally smile as you say these words, that smile changes the tone of your words (even over the phone) and makes them sound as genuine as they should.
- Be educated. Having periodic meetings to discuss the most frequently asked questions and how to answer them is of tremendous value to us. Someone on the team may have crafted a perfect answer that will serve to better inform everyone.
- Be positive. Even if a product is backordered, or an unexpected delay will have an impact, don’t phrase it in the negative. Be proactive about the solution to the issue and tell the truth.
It is not just about customer service for us, our attitude is one of respect. We work hard for our money and our customers work hard for theirs.
While we believe that installing a backyard pool is a great decision, it is still a “want” not a “need”.
When a customer decides to finance their pool, and make the commitment to paying it off monthly, we respect what it will take for them to do that. They’ll be happy they did, but it’s their money. They are entitled to our respect from the first second of that first phone call.
We love the difference we can make for your family by providing something that puts years of memories within reach. Call 877-754-5966 for more information.