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How to fix the repair industry

Process and profit-centric businesses need to add people into the equation


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It’s a new world – one that requires a radical rethinking of priorities for businesses in all industries. It’s easier than ever for customers to share their experiences with others – especially the bad ones – and to find different businesses to patronize. Thus, companies must confront the fact that they don’t hold the power anymore.

This is especially true for the appliance repair industry. Historically, it has been focused on profit and repairing appliances, often in that order; the result was an industry-wide reputation for being crooks – making customers wait days before a fix or replacement. What’s more, veteran repair technicians were trained with this mindset, making it even more challenging to spur change.

Despite the odds, Colorado repair companies have managed to change the way they do business and alter customer perceptions in the process. Colorado is now ranked in the top 10 nationally for luxury repair, an industry that’s grown 35 percent in the last five years.

How?

Industry members created a cultural shift in customer experience and used the following five methods to enact enduring change.

  1. Re-Prioritize Relationships

Putting customers before profit is part of a larger philosophy, reassessing the value of relationships. Not only should you build genuine, personal relationships with customers, you should do the same with partners, employees and the community at large, since every relationship is essential for a strong business.

Consider this:

“Customer service is not a job, it’s an attitude;”

so if employees were ever unhappy, it would quickly be reflected in the attitude they bring to each customer. There are many ways to ensure employees find their work rewarding and supportive: generous benefits, visible gestures that they are important to the company or community outreach (which has the bonus of improving the company’s relationship with the community).

  1. Soft Skills Training

Customer service is more than an attitude. A hospital doesn’t hire an untrained neurosurgeon; so a customer-first business should ensure everyone within the organization is trained to manage customer relationships, even leadership.

Also remember, no man is an island; a customer often interacts with many people along their journey. Put your employees through cross-training where it makes sense, so they understand the function of each team member to keep customers happy and better integrate their approach.

  1. Build a Culture that Reinforces the Mission

Don’t drink your own Kool-Aid: just saying you’re a customer-first business doesn’t mean you’re living it. Ultimately, every member of an organization is responsible for ensuring word becomes deed. The two R’s to remember to ensure everyone stays committed to the mission are:

  • Reminders: How many of your employees can list your core values or your mission statement off the top of their head? How many take them into consideration during their day-to-day work? Visual reminders around the office increase the likelihood that employees learn and take to heart your new customer-first focus.
  • Rewards: To turn desired behaviors into enduring processes, rely on positive reinforcement. Share positive customer feedback and signals of growth with the team, compliment those involved, even hand out awards if need be.
  1. Create a Repeatable Process

Every business should map their processes to ensure each step is carefully designed to make customers feel cared for, in control and happy. No customer should ever fall into a gap in service.

For example, luxury consumers cite time as their most valuable asset. Look for opportunities where customers are left waiting and strategize methods for adding efficiency to the process.

The goal is to create a customer experience so unexpectedly thoughtful and excellent that customers can’t help but be loyal and complaints dwindle to nothing.

  1. Never Grow Complacent

No business is perfect or ever will be. Operating with the mindset that there is always something to work on in each relationship, something to nurture, is key. Never stop training and planning, never stop analyzing and innovating, because if you continue to improve, you’ll never stop growing.

Customers now know they are in the position of power to demand more, and businesses that don’t put them first will soon find they’ve been building on soft sand. The Colorado repair industry has responded by building their businesses on gaining long-term, loyal customer relationships, the strongest foundation around, and the results have been phenomenal.

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Scott Baca

Scott Baca, president of American Appliance Group, and its subsidiaries American Appliance, Inc. and Great Plains Appliance Parts, is the exclusive factory certified service and parts company in the Front Range area for Sub-Zero, Wolf and ASKO appliances. By tapping into his previous customer service expertise, Baca has redefined the luxury repair consumer experience through high-touch operation processes and innovative marketing, employee and recruitment strategies. Baca’s industry thought-leadership has led to the company being recognized with the Most Professional Service Company award from The United Servicer Association, the appliance industry’s top organization.

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