Company Makes Virtual Visits a Customer Service Staple

Due to the pandemic, virtual service calls became a necessity for Alphalete Plumbing, but going forward the company plans to maintain it as a permanent part of operations

Company Makes Virtual Visits a Customer Service Staple

Diego Lujan, owner of Alphalete Plumbing, Heating & Air of Colorado Springs, Colorado

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The pandemic has tested the capacity of business owners to tailor their operations to adverse conditions.

For Alphalete Plumbing, Heating & Air of Colorado Springs, Colorado, one of those adaptations was the introduction of virtual service calls. The idea of such calls had been floating around in owner Diego Lujan’s mind for a while and was quickly implemented in March 2020 after COVID-19 appeared in Colorado.

“We developed it right away to protect us and our customers. People were in need, some had been laid off, and calling the plumber was the last thing they wanted to do,” Lujan says.

For $35, a customer could call Alphalete and a service tech would listen to a complaint, visually examine the situation using a cellphone camera and, if the problem could be fixed by the homeowner, talk the customer through the process. In the event the problem couldn’t be resolved without professional help, the $35 was applied to the cost of a subsequent service call by the tech.

Lujan recalls a typical virtual call. “A lady’s disposal quit working. We talked her through the steps to fixing it. Afterward, she was ecstatic. She had lost her job, had no extra money and the virtual repair was important to her.”

The virtue of such a service during a pandemic is readily evident, but virtual service has value that transcends such conditions. For one, a problem can be resolved faster than is possible waiting for a technician to arrive. For another, it’s less expensive.

“After the pandemic, we are going to keep it as an offered service,” Lujan says. “Not everyone can afford a service call. Some people don’t even know where a shut-off valve is and we can help them find it. And they don’t have to wait for a tech in a truck to arrive to do that.”

Lujan believes Alphalete’s virtual and in-person service during the pandemic has raised its profile and the esteem in which it is held by the public. Plumbers aren’t featured in television and newspaper promotion of pandemic “heroes” such as nurses and firefighters, but Lujan thinks perhaps they ought to be.

“We sacrificed the safety of our house to serve the community. We never missed a beat in helping protect the health of the nation. Plumbers were on the front line in the defense of this country.”


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