Why do customers only call when something goes wrong – which usually means in winter?

Jason Morjaria
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Changing customer behavior is hard. They typically only call when they have a problem, and that usually means in winter, when they turn on the heating for the first time in months.
They are not going to test it early (testing boilers do not appear high on many people’s summer “to-do” list, and some might even be afraid of testing a boiler in case it breaks).

Changing customer behavior is hard

As a result, you may be left twiddling your thumbs through the summer months only to be pulling your hair out come October or November when you have to cope with all the leaks, boiler breakdowns, and new installations. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
Convincing customers to think about having their gas safety certificates done in August or September is never going to be easy, but if you get it right, you can create an excellent business opportunity.

Seasonal offers are a great way to smooth out the peaks and troughs in your plumbing and heating business. They could involve a discount or additional services that you provide for free – such as offering a free Legionella test and certificate.

However, you should take a few things into consideration before you take any action.

It is not a good idea to make blanket offers

First and foremost, it is not a good idea to make blanket offers. Targeted marketing is more efficient – so you need to segment your customer base and think: "What offer would make the most sense to people in this part?"

A blanket offer is like a machine gun – you may well hit a target but you will cause a lot of collateral damage, and you will waste a lot of ammunition! For example, customers who have just had a new boiler installed are hardly going to welcome an offer of a discount for an early service. They have just forked out for an expensive appliance, so it’s more likely that they will be infuriated. What’s more, they are less liable to take any notice of your future communications.

A targeted offer is like a single rifle shot from a crack marksman

It hits the customer with precisely the right offer at the right moment. If you have a large number of clients, this is much easier if you can do an intelligent search and filter of your database to create segments. You should then tailor your message to the different segments (or ideally to the individual customer, if possible).

Read also: Here's How to Handle Bad Reviews—And Turn Haters Into Customers

Get the right message and the right tone of voice

Remember what we said in an earlier article: empathy. Get the right message and the right tone of voice: the way you address a business customer is not the way you would treat a young single person or an elderly couple. Put yourself in the client’s shoes and think, “Am I likely to respond to this offer?”

If you are unsure, ask someone. For example, if you have a young, single son or daughter, they will soon tell you what sounds cool and what doesn’t.

It is, of course, tempting to make a generalised offer in the hope of getting a bigger response. But you should resist this temptation.

Read also: How to Turn Your Field Service Engineers into Customer Service Pros

Customer aren't only interested in discount

Second, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the clients are only interested in discounts. A small cut will often fail to motivate a person or will appear paltry – few people are likely to reorganize their summer plans based on a 5% or 10% discount. On the other hand, a more substantial discount will cut into your margins and perhaps make you look desperate or “cheap.”

An offer of additional services is often the better option if it leads customers to think that they are getting some other value or convenience, for example getting two things done at a single visit.

Customers are not interested in how expensive or easy this is for you to do – so much time as they have the perception of added value. For example, you could make a summer offer of a boiler service plus a free home energy assessment.

So much time as you do this effectively (work hard on the presentation!), this could also lead to further business, either for yourself or for a local partner that you trust.

And even if it does not give rise directly to additional business, you will have strengthened your relationship with the customer.

Conclusion and take away in this article:

  • Try to organise customers' appointment through the year
  • Target your customers with a personalised offer at the right time
  • Segment your offers discounts and additional services
  • Get the right message and the right tone of voice

We hope you have enjoyed this series of articles and that the advice offered is useful to your business.
At Commusoft we welcome your feedback and inquiries.

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