Maintaining Customer Confidence During the Pandemic

There are many little things to incorporate into your everyday best practices that can do a lot to earn the respect of your customers and ensure they stick with you as their trusted plumbing services provider

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Plumbers have put themselves in harm’s way during the pandemic. They’ve risked exposing themselves to a deadly virus to ensure that their neighbors can flush a toilet or pour a glass of water from the tap.

Unfortunately, in these trying times where so many people have been unable to work at all or have fallen behind on bills due to months of quarantine, many regular people have decided to practice the plumbing trade themselves on their homes instead of calling a professional for assistance. How can plumbers maintain customer confidence during the pandemic?

Consider these ideas to gain customer appreciation, respect and referrals.

Wear a mask

This one is obvious and often government-mandated, but I’ve still heard complaints about the efficacy of masks time and time again. Political opinions aside, there is tons of information available showing how masks help. Safety is paramount in the eyes of the masses. Your customers not only want you to wear a mask in their home, but they also expect it.

A common habit for workers in every industry is removing masks when out of sight of customers or supervisors. I recommend not doing that. Many customers make a habit of keeping an eye on the workers they allow into their homes whether you know it or not. Outside of getting caught, it’s simply disrespectful and defeats the purpose of wearing a mask in the first place.

Less common, but something you could consider is wearing a face shield. Maybe in addition to wearing a mask. Talk about standing out from the competition. They’re far more comfortable than masks, and many experts claim it protects the wearer better than a mask. Plus, if your customer sees you rocking both a face mask and a face shield, they’ll notice it and appreciate it.

Be clean

This is a good practice all the time, pandemic or not. The power of presentation is important in every facet of life. Any customer will automatically hold a higher respect for a plumber whose hair and facial hair look clean and maintained. Clean the grub off your hands before you go into a home even if you’re not offering a handshake. Do your best to keep your clothes looking clean and in good shape. I know that plumbing can be a dirty job, but the extra effort will pay dividends in how your customer views you. In a world where good reviews and referrals are almost everything, you want the customer to appreciate you. Being clean and presentable is an easy and reasonable way to gain that customer appreciation.

Keep hand sanitizer on your belt

At the beginning of quarantine, I got my hands on a small sanitizer bottle with a loop for my belt. I put it on every day for two reasons: The first being that it gave me quick and easy access to my hand sanitizer without risking contaminating the other things in my pocket. Secondly, customers can see it. If you see somebody with hand sanitizer attached to their belt, you’re going to assume that they use it. Better yet, you’re probably far more likely to use it than if it were in your pocket. Easy access is a huge motivator, and you’ll likely do a far better job of protecting yourself and your customers.

Also, bring a surface sanitizer and paper towel to the job. Be obvious with this. Don’t keep your sanitizer hidden in your tool bag. It might sound silly, but the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra. 

Use that sanitizer and paper towel after you’ve done the job. Hopefully, your customers see this step so they can appreciate it. Go the extra mile and sanitize the surfaces that you touched, perhaps even the surfaces under the sink. Customers often inspect the work they’ve paid for, and in the off chance that you are an asymptomatic virus carrier, it would be awful for a customer to catch the virus by touching areas where you’ve worked. Best case scenario: They see you diligently sanitize the areas that you’ve come into contact with and they appreciate it. Could you imagine the reviews if a customer suspected that a careless plumber brought the coronavirus into their home and infected them? Yikes.

Keep your distance and keep your hands to yourself

We’ve been brought up in a world of handshakes and closeness. At least for the time being, the world has changed. Many people are too timid to express their discomfort with proximity, so they’ll simply allow you into their bubble. Don’t be that person. If the customer offers you their hand and you wish to accept the handshake, sure. But the reality is that we all know handshakes are suspended, so they’re not needed these days.

If you or someone close to you has symptoms, stay home

This one is a no-brainer that so many people are still failing to do. Don’t be selfish. I know that it’s in our culture to tough it out. I remember being told before to show up on site even if I’m dying. Those times are done and that culture is outdated. If you’re not feeling well, have any symptoms, or have been in close proximity with anyone else not feeling well or who is experiencing symptoms, stay home. It’s not worth it.

Ask the customer if anyone in the household has experienced symptoms of the coronavirus. I understand that it may be an uncomfortable thing to ask some customers, but I truly believe that some customers will appreciate you being mindful of your exposure.

Ask the customer if there are any precautionary steps that they would like you to take

This one is huge and incredibly underutilized. It’s a simple gesture that will mean a lot. Rarely, if ever, will your customer ask anything more than that you wash your hands, but the gesture alone will sincerely mean something to a lot of people. The little things count.

If you have precautionary steps that you would like customers to take, ask them. Nobody wants to impose upon their customers, but some steps make sense. Asking your customers to leave open the doors you need access to in order to limit the touching of doorknobs is smart and reasonable. Asking them to remove the contents under the sink so you don’t risk exposure is smart and reasonable. Asking to have proper distance between you and anyone in the home is smart and reasonable. If you explain to your customer that you’re trying not only to protect yourself but also to limit the things in their home that you come into contact with, they should respect it.

If you have to cancel a job last minute because you’ve found out you were exposed to the coronavirus, do it

Cancelling a job last minute seems counterintuitive for gaining customer confidence, but if you explain that a prior customer has called you to report that they’re showing symptoms, the customer you’re canceling on will understand. And they will be extremely grateful. If you’re self-employed, give the service call to a friend. If you’re a part of a team, have someone else fill in. Cancelling a juicy job is the hardest thing to do for a go-getter, but your customer will appreciate your honesty and transparency. And hopefully, they’ll call you next time.

The virus isn’t going anywhere for a while still. People are scared and uncomfortable, and money is tighter than it’s been in a long time. While pipes and water heaters will continue to require maintenance and replacement, the truth is that more people are trying to learn how to do the little things for themselves. As plumbers, it’s our responsibility to do everything that we possibly can to keep the service calls coming.

There remain differing opinions about various virus-related matters, but none of that matters. What matters is keeping customers satisfied, and making sure they call you the next time. It doesn’t take all that much to stand out from competitors, and every little bit helps. Stay safe out there, and keep the phones ringing.

About the Author

Jacob Romano is the digital marketing manager for John The Plumber, based in Ottawa, Ontario, since 2006. The company serves much of Ontario, including Manotick, Ajax, Brockville, Mississauga, Burlington, Hamilton, Etobicoke, and Kingston. Visit johntheplumber.ca/.



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