We each are consumers of heating and air conditioning. Most every homeowner is subjected to the rigors of natural disasters that cause the electrical grid to weaken and shut down and bring the comfort of home environments to a standstill.
Who’d know there would be so many marketing lessons in a customer experience about heating and air conditioning? This story has oodles, and I have to share my experience with Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning, a national HVAC company also known as Stevenson in Southwest Ohio.
About Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning
A well-done direct marketing letter arrived from Service Experts, a company I had not heard of in spite of the fact it has been around for 120+ years. The letter was touting the local high school football rivalry, a two-for-one special, and $50 off plumbing if I was one of the first 50 callers. So, I called within two days; do you think I was one of the first 50 callers? (I still don’t know after two weeks, although I asked every technician who came to my house over 10 days.)
When I called to schedule my maintenance and informed the scheduler about the offer, he had no idea about the price point in the letter and didn’t know what I was talking about. (Mistake #1)
Mistake #2 was that the first technician to the job had never seen the marketing letter either, so I showed it to him. I made a copy of the letter to ensure I got the price point advertised (and I’m still going after my $50 off coupon for plumbing when the time comes!) The technician promised he would take the letter to his morning meeting and inform marketing that frontline customer service has to know about new marketing programs.
We talked at length about that disconnect; from the new customer standpoint, the letter worked even though marketing did not inform frontline customer service or the call center about the direct marketing campaign.
There were about 22 touches I had with this company; 11 of them were in person, one was via correspondence and 10 were via phone. The in-person experiences ranged from heating and air conditioning maintenance, two sales guys, one plumbing inspection guy, two HVAC installers, one air conditioner technician, two thermostat installers, and one senior technician after installation about the thermostat and wiring. The air duct cleaning crew is scheduled this week, and today I saw the plumber.
22 Customer Touches in 10 Days
In a routine maintenance for my fall furnace inspection with Service Experts/Stevenson, my 17-year-old Lennox furnace was doing OK, but nearing its 20-year life span.
During this inspection, my 7-year-old thermostat was on the fritz, and I mentioned to the technician I wanted a Nest (the coolest product with the highest marketing budget ever). I was unaware that Service Experts sold an I Comfort thermostat that is higher quality and easier to use. Frontline customer service was not selling the company’s smaller products. Mistake #3
During this experience, Craig (a great technician) suggested I look into pricing a new HVAC unit although I wasn’t in the market. The sales guy came over and gave me prices of $10,000 to $14,000 (yikes). What I didn’t know was that Lennox sold a lower level HVAC unit at 93% efficiency instead of the 96% efficiency unit that was priced. The first sales guy gave a lackluster presentation and didn’t try to work within my budget at all; nor did he inform me there was a lower grade of equipment that would work equally well. (Mistake #3)
I bought my Nest and had the guys come back to install. I was lucky to get Craig again who was wonderful. During the time he spent with me that day, he suggested I look into a cheaper HVAC unit and would I be interested in speaking with Jim? Jim came by and we did the deal on a Friday afternoon within my budget parameter. The guys wanted to install the unit over the weekend, but I was traveling Monday and Tuesday; so we
scheduled it for Wednesday.
Over the weekend on Sunday night, my current air conditioner died. I called the company back and they sent a technician to see if he could repair the old unit just for 2 days. Nada. The temperatures were to be 93 degrees for four days, and it was. My kidlet had to stay at her grandparents and everything was disrupted (at least I had a clean house). The temperature soared to 95 upstairs in the house.
When I returned from travels, I drove directly to my folks to spend the night and returned to have the HVAC team arrive on Wednesday morning. The good news was they upgraded me to the higher efficiency unit for free. What an amazing surprise, and what amazing customer service.
The guys could not get my new Nest to work with the new HVAC unit; they installed a Honeywell thermostat (a basic model). My house cooled 1 degree in four hours. I called the company and the technicians were all on call; it was the hottest stretch of the summer. I collected kidlet and off we rolled to my folks house again to sleep, 25 minutes away.
The next day, Steve came over to check out my Nest. He called the company, and the company said we needed to plug the Nest into my computer and I searched high and low for the right connector tips. Luckily, I had it, but wasted time finding it. Once we plugged the Nest into both the iMac and the Windows laptop, nothing happened. Steve was in the house for hours trying everything. When he finally asked me about the house’s wiring, I told him it was a DIY house and the wiring was old and faulty. That’s when his light bulb went on; he said he wanted to rewire the thermostat and recommended Service Expert’s I Comfort instead of the Nest.
Steve is not a fan of the Nest although consumers haven’t a clue that the equipment isn’t the best technology. That’s the beauty of marketing; we see something cool and we want to buy it. Consumers have no concept of a thermostat and why it’s important to purchase a high-end product with features that address humidity, blower speed, outside temperatures, programs, holidays, filters, alarms, and maintenance.
Luckily, the temperatures outside cooled to 60 and 70 degrees (naturally) and we didn’t need to run the air conditioning. Steve returned with his crew of two within two days, and they fully rewired and programmed my new I Comfort thermostat and trained me at the same time.
Service Experts Customer Service
Within 10 days, I experienced every aspect of frontline touches and call center inbound and outbound scheduling that is possible in a company.
Today, the plumbing inspection guy came and reviewed water issues. Tomorrow the air duct cleaner guys are coming and will spend three to four hours cleaning all the ducts and vents.
The gentlemen who came into my home were:
- Dressed in uniform
- Professional with boot covers in and out
- Personable, reliable, arrived on time, called before they were to arrive
- Fixed what was broken, stood by their work, and ensured I was ultra-satisfied during my entire ordeal.
I don’t think I have ever had this much experience with a company the way I have with Service Experts/Stevenson. There’s absolutely no way I would change to any other company after investing so much time and financial investment in this company as a brand new customer.
Hire Jayme Soulati
- I want to teach workshops to the frontline sales technicians.
- I want to sit in front of marketing and inform that person his letter was great; I picked up the phone after one touch, but he didn’t inform his sales or service teams.
- I want to reach out to the CEO of Service Experts and ask for work with his company.
- I want to help them with content oriented to customer education about thermostats and how to buy a furnace and what size of house needs what size of air conditioner.
- I want to be that female homeowner role model for Service Experts who doesn’t know anything but knows enough to make the right choice.
- I want to help Service Experts become an authority in this sector and earn the trust of customers. Will you hire me Service Experts?
I tell this story because every single homeowner is eventually going to purchase HVAC units for their aging equipment. I highly recommend Service Experts in your region, and I commend each technician and scheduler and for being professional and doing the job to the best of their knowledge and ability. Had everyone known about the wiring in the house being faulty, perhaps the process would’ve been more efficient, but there are lessons to learn in every experience we have.
Jayme Soulati is a highly satisfied customer, Service Experts. Your Net Promoter Score is 10.