In the pool business, to satisfy customers there are many
things to remember each day. Depending on how many pools you service, and how
many problems they present, it can be an ongoing task to remember to check up
after adjustments and treatments. Sometimes being so busy makes it hard to stop
and listen to what our customers are saying. We are so busy, it is easy to
overlook and neglect the specific things customers may be asking for.
When I was taking college courses, I had to endure a speech
class. One of the components was titled “Listening.” The assignment was to take
ten minutes each day to sit still and listen. Write down everything you hear.
It was amazing how many different things I could hear all at once when I would
eliminate all of the distractions around me and just listen. When I would
review the things I wrote down, I realized that my brain normally filters out
things I might not find meaningful. It focuses on things I find important. Are
the customer’s needs important? Yes, they are the most important. However, they
can sometimes become meaningless due to the distractions around us that
supersede our conversations.
Sometimes customers tell us what they want and we have to
listen closely. I remember so many times I have been given a message to call a
customer back. The message states briefly what they were calling about. When I
call the customer back and reference the brief description I’ve been given,
they say, “That is not at all what I was calling about.” They explain what they
are really wanting to do with their pool, and it makes me wonder why there is
such disparity between what the person who answered the phone call heard and
the words that the customer used to explain their need.
It is also understandable that many customers may not
articulate their needs very well. This can also lead to frustration.
When we miss the point of a conversation, we miss the
opportunity to provide a solution or helpful advice which may instill
confidence and credibility in our business. In the past, customers have told me
they have asked other professionals for specific parts and equipment to be
installed for their pool and the company could not accomplish getting the job
done. They would ask, “Don’t you want to sell pool equipment to me, you’re a
pool company?” When we listened to what they wanted and installed it as soon as
possible the results were positive.
We have had customers call to set up pool maintenance services
and say, “For years my pool will not heat warm enough for me to swim.” If the
person who took the phone call only schedules the customer on a route for pool
maintenance and doesn’t document the customer’s continued conversation, it is
likely the technician will walk past the 14-year-old pool heater once each week
and never realize how satisfied the customer could be to know the heater is too
old to heat the pool and it can easily be replaced.
We have had customers call in to set up pool maintenance and
mention they fill the pool with a hose for one hour at a time three times per
week. If that part of the conversation is not passed on, the pool technician
may not know how much water is diluting the chemical balance and the customer
may not know the pool could possibly be leaking. Customers may not know they
could have an autofill system installed, especially if they have not owned a
pool before. Listening to what the customer is saying could lead to increased
sales for new equipment installation.
We had one customer call to set up pool maintenance and
mentioned they lost their spouse 10 months earlier. They mentioned only using
the pool a handful of times over the 23 years they lived in their home. The
pool developed sharp step cap tiles as the grout aged and wore away, and the
finish became rough. When we recommended having the pool resurfaced and new
tiles installed they hired a referral we gave for a contractor who is an FSPA
member. The pool was resurfaced and this customer now swims for an hour and a
half at a time doing exercise and enjoying the fresh air while listening to
music. When we first took the phone call it could have been easy to filter out
the parts of the conversation which were important to know, but now the pool became
more comfortable to swim in and promote great health for our customers.
Put as much time as possible into listening to your customers
and hopefully, you will have better relationships and see the difference in your