Properly handling customers’ concerns is the ticket to higher profits.


Have you ever been caught off guard with a tough question from a customer?

Perhaps you stumbled through and muttered something incoherent. You might have gotten defensive and made a bad situation worse. Boy, I have. However, over the years I’ve gotten smarter. I’ve learned from listening in on some terrific conversations in shops across the country.  

Here are a few good answers to tough questions…

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“Can you just send me a bill?”

This really means, “Will you loan me $350?” if that’s the amount on the invoice. So, respond with … 

“Mrs. Fernwicky, would you like to defer your payment? We’d be happy to put today’s services on your credit card. Do you prefer Visa, Master Card or American Express?” Financing programs help you out here, too. Check into one for your company.

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“But, your father used to send me a bill. Why can’t you?”

“You knew my dad? He taught me a lot about this business. One thing he taught me is, ‘Keep your costs low. Wasted steps mean higher prices to your customers.’  As part of an overall plan to run an efficient business, we are eliminating paperwork that can cost you money. So we are collecting on the job now.” 

“How much does a pumpout cost? I’ve been calling around. I’ve heard prices from $250 to $400?”

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“Mrs. Jones, I understand you want to get the best value for your dollar. It’s no fun spending money on this. When you get a quote for service over the phone, keep in mind that the price may change once the technician arrives at your home. Perhaps there is some problem that the technician wouldn’t discover until he takes a look at your system. So, the price could change. We don’t like to work that way.  

“As a professional, our technician must see the problem before he quotes you a price. You know how you call the doctor because you know you have strep throat, but the doctor must see you before he writes a prescription? That’s because he is a professional. When he comes to your home, our technician will inspect the onsite system and visit with you about your system and water usage. Then he will make professional recommendations to you. He won’t begin to pump or do any necessary repair work until you have approved the written proposal. And we will hold to the written price. No surprises. May I schedule you for a service appointment?” 

So Mrs. Jones says, “No, thanks.”  

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Oh well.  

Then you say… 

“No problem. Mrs. Jones, would you do me a favor?” 

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She’ll be surprised, but say, “Uh, sure.” 

“If you have any problem with the service you receive today, give me a call back. I will send one of our top-flight techs to your home ASAP. OK?” 

She’ll say, “OK.” 

Don’t say anything like, “You get what you pay for!” or “You’ll be sorry!” Make it OK for her to call you again. There is the likelihood that an underpriced competitor will disappoint and change the price from the phone quote. 

You may not book every call, but you’ll establish a level of trust, and that will lead to more calls.


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