“It's déjà vu all over again!” is a famous quote by the late, great Yogi Berra. I’ve lived this scenario, and I’m betting you have, too. I’m talking about callbacks—the bane of the contracting industry.
I worked in my family plumbing, heating and cooling business (today they also do electrical), so I know first-hand how demoralizing and damaging callbacks can be.
- Your customers have to needlessly take off extra time from their paying jobs to be there for your Techs again and again.
- Callbacks rob your ability to do new service and install work because you have to redo a repair for no money.
- They ruin your good reputation, especially today, when unhappy customers go online and tell the world.
Here are just four of the many reasons unnecessary callbacks keep happening at your company:
- Communication breakdowns. This starts with the CSRs not capturing and then handing off the right information to the Dispatchers. Then, the Dispatchers hand off inaccurate information to the Techs, who go to the job with bad intel. Finally, the last common break in communication occurs when the Techs either don’t hand off all the information to the Dispatchers, or it’s incorrect.
Note: Callbacks absolutely apply to service work and install work. And bad or broken communication is a direct result of not having policies and procedures in place, and not having what I call a strong “Triangle of Communication” between CSR-Dispatch-Tech, and back again.
- Techs doing service and install work their own way vs. doing it your company’s way of doing it.
- Techs having holes in their knowledge. How do I know? I had them, and I was the second best Tech at my company of 25 Techs. And I was the boss’s kid. I purposely didn’t sell repairs when I was not confident about my ability to do that work. So, I too, set up the likelihood of callbacks. They happened on my jobs, too.
- There is no checklist approach for how to properly do the work, let alone exit each job properly. Checklists would reduce the likelihood of a callback.
Note: Operating without a checklist for the work you do is dangerous 80% of the time. A callback is only a matter of time if Techs leave a call without verifying that things are operating as they should. The kicker is it can operate properly, but if there’s a breakdown in a customer’s clear understanding by not explaining how things work…you’re begging for more needless callbacks.
So, how do you break this cycle of constant callbacks?
I recommend you what I did years ago—create comprehensive operating manuals. These manuals allowed us for the first time in our company’s 50+ years of operation (that was back in the ’90s!) to get control of the life-sucking repeat calls.
It took us hiring a professional writer to work with our team and build my outline of tasks, department by department. He helped us run the group meetings and write the policies and procedures it took to run our company. Minimizing callbacks meant we recovered the $153,000 investment (in today’s money) for the manuals in two years’ time.
There were other benefits to the manuals. For the first time, the Techs filled the holes in their knowledge without exposure or embarrassment. After all, we’re from New York and we love to break each other’s chops. It’s an art form. But, it’s absolutely worthless to fixing our company. We worked together to get better once we had the manuals.
One of the main goals of manuals is to address the breaks in communication. The biggest break occurs from the office to the Tech and back. But, it also is from the Techs to the Customers. The manuals address how to create the right checklist to use on calls for minimizing repeat visits. And yes, it speeds up the process when a callback arises, because everyone knows what the job history is and the next steps. The real beauty is it improves communication at every turn in the process. Everyone, starting with the customer, is better served.
Isn’t it time to break the cycle of unnecessary callbacks at your shop?