Episode 18 | January 30th, 2024

How Can Good Customer Service Help with Lead Generation?

A2O Digital meets with hosts Brandon Falone and Justin Bencsko to discuss how important good customer service can be to your business and booking leads.

For more information on our call center episode "How to Use Your Call Center to Book Leads and Generate Revenue, listen here.

For more information on our online booking tool Street2Fleet, you can visit our website and listen here.

Brandon 00:18 Super excited to be sitting her

e today, Justin again, we're gonna be talking about really focusing on customer service. You know, you and I have been talking a lot about this, just to kind of refresh, you know, I run a a service company that's going to do close to around 35 million in service revenue this year.

Justin 00:40

I work for a marketing agency, and we have over 100 customers all in the home service industry. This is something that comes up for us a lot, because we do the marketing, we're getting you the leads. Ultimately, what an owner ends up looking at is, are my techs out there and are they busy, right? So when they are and they end up coming to us, and there's multiple things that obviously affects your techs being on the road and getting jobs. Obviously the marketing, but then there's this whole component of customer service and answering the phones, if you can't do that. You can do all the marketing in the world, you're never going to realize because you know, you're not doing a good job answering the phones and booking them into a job that gets on the schedule. So this is something that we look at all the time, and I think it's something that people often as an owner forget about, right. Maybe sometimes it's kind of like it's happened and you don't think about that as much you're thinking about the marketing and the leads. It's just as important to book those leads and do a good job of getting them on the schedule.

Brandon 01:58

Yeah, customer service is funny you do take it forgranted, but then also you put this unfair pressure on the team at times.

Justin 02:06

It is hard too right? Like it is not an easy thing to be able to train a team to be able to answer a phone, answer objections that a customer has, like this is not an easy thing to do. It's not like just hire any person on the street throw them in there, and they're going to be able to do this. There's a lot of nuance and training involved to make them effective, and a lot of aspects to this, this is not an easy thing to accomplish.

Brandon 02:32

And what I'll say about that is for this position, in our industry everything is revenue, right? Revenue and call volume determines so much right? We agree on that in our in our industry. So when things are really good revenues up, volumes up with calls, everything is good. You can kind of measure everything. But customer service is kind of in this island by itself, and the one thing I will say to you is it's an industry, it's a part of our company that has high turnover. And it's one of those things where training is really tough, because with high turnover you start investing money into it. But when things are really good, you take it forgranted, customers need help you book them and we put them on the schedule. So the big time when this becomes apparent to you, and when customer service is an issue is when people are slow, right? In our industry, in the garage door space when we get slow we call our marketing agency and we first want to point a finger at somebody and usually point the finger at you. That's typically is what happens.

Justin 03:40

Obviously, it depends on the person usually they're reaching out saying, "Hey we're slow, is there anything we can do?" And, obviously if they're slow, we would go in and look, the account managers already have a pulse on this. And we go in and look and sometimes it is the marketing, there are ebbs and flows. And there can be times that are slow, there may be opportunities that are there that we can take advantage of to get more leads. But there's also times where that call happens, and we go in and we look at the lead volume and everything, and it's not down. Like oh this is actually kind of similar to what it's been when you've been saying you're busier. Sometimes you can even go in, it could be slightly up. And then that's where this other component of the customer service comes into play. Where we're digging into that, we will listen to calls. We have full time employees that are almost exclusively listening to phone calls. Because that's the only way that we're able to understand what's happening from the customer service side. So that may happen and you go in and identify "Hey, there's some opportunities in the customer service" and maybe that's what's happening. It could be a mixture of both, right? So, yeah I forget what your original question was.

Brandon 05:08

No, but going back to that, when it's slow people start to try and figure out what's wrong. So from your point of view, when you look at customer service, you said you have 100 different clients that you deal with across the country, how many of them handle their customer service the same way of those 100?

Justin 05:24

Well a lot of our clients use a specific call center, which does a really good job of answering phones. Now, there's things that you can do and actually, we had an episode about this where we talked to the owner of that call center, Anthony Castiglione. And there's things within that call center, certain ammunition you can give them to allow them to be able to book calls at a better rate. If you're interested in that, go listen to that episode. It's from maybe a few weeks ago, maybe a month ago, I don't know if we have like show notes in this, we can maybe like, put a link to that. And you can go listen to that. So fortunately, for a lot of our clients, they have that built in and you can work with his team to make sure you're getting the most out of that. And there are some that do it in house and to varying degrees, this has been something for our clients that has definitely gotten better throughout the years. I remember back in the day, there were times where it was like, we had one situation where it was the owner's wife, that was the one answering the phone calls. She was mean to customers, it was not a good situation. We were listening to these calls and thought, they're never going to realize the value of the marketing because this person's customer service. It was not a good situation with the customer service, and then you have to have that conversation with the customer. In this case, it was the customer's wife so that was a little tricky of a situation. But I would say less so now it is not an issue. There's always like fine tuning, I think and it can always be better, but for a lot of our clients they are in a better spot than they were. You talked about, you know, high turnover in customer service talk about why is that? Why do you think there's so much high turnover? Is there anything you're doing to try and prevent that? Let's kind of dig into that a little bit because it's an interesting topic, there's a lot that can be discussed.

Brandon 07:31

Yeah, it's actually funny timing, I was just sitting in an interview for a customer service representative. And I did that purposely because I'm trying to understand it better. It's an entry level position. The money is not typically there to be able to pay a high income to. So you have people coming in, maybe it's their first job or their first office job, or maybe they're reentering the workforce, or a lot of things, but they're not typically the most skilled candidates. Or sometimes you do get really skilled candidates, but they only wind up being with you for a short period of time, because you either want to promote them within your company, or they wind up looking outside somewhere else.

Justin 08:20

Is there a certain number that you're not willing to go over? Like what do you pay? Do you pay hourly?

Brandon 08:25

Hourly, right now.

Justin 08:26

Is there a certain number, like I'm only going to in the budget, pay a certain amount, and I can't afford to pay them anymore? Does that happen?

Brandon 08:35

Yeah, it's funny because you get what you pay for. Not even you get what you pay for, but sometimes you advertise a position based on what the market is telling you to advertise it for. And you and I have talked about this. And as I said, you kind of get what you pay for. Because if you want somebody really skilled, that's going to come in with a ton of experience, they're going to be asking for more. Now, there's certain areas of the business that I'm looking to save money on. And this is one of those areas, if I'm able to hire somebody in a market value or the market rate I'm going to, and for this position we spend time trying to train them. But I think the mistake that I've made in the past was when somebody comes in, I kept putting them into a job, when a lot of these people are coming in and they're actually looking for a career. The skill set that you're learning as a customer service rep actually translates into so many different areas. The one parallel that I've always found is sales. People who come in to customer service. They usually don't want to be in sales. They tell me all the time. I don't want to be in sales. I don't want to be in sales. The funny part is their job is a sales job. There's just no money transaction. Sometimes people if they don't really know what sales is, have a negative connotatio. Like I'm trying to convince someone to do something that they don't necessarily need or whatever. But that's not sales, right? You're trying to help the customer and solve their issue. And I don't know, I think some people, they don't really know. It's true. Well, I think it's being able to handle the pressure. That's a really high pressure job, customer service. For some reason, when people are under or have chaos in their life, something that's broken that normally is working perfectly fine, it's the end of the world. Their garage door, their pipe breaks or toilets clogged like, in reality, there are much bigger problems in life than those but when they call, it's the end of the world. Or say they got work done, and they call back and the people that we're trying to train, wind up getting abused by customers unfairly, because they're not happy with whether something happened in their life, or the way something turned out. And that also causes a ton of turnover, because customer service reps are like, I'm getting paid $22 an hour to get screamed at, you know, and that's a tough, thing to retain.

Justin 11:12

Is there anything, so let's just say you're looking at. Because I'm thinking about this like okay, my high end I'm paying $22 an hour, and I'm competing with all jobs that will pay at that level. Are there things that you do to try and change the experience of this job? Money is one thing, but are there other things that you do to try and make this a job that people like to retain. Not just compete on money, right, compete on making this a good workplace that they're going to enjoy. Is there anything you do from that end?

Brandon 11:58

Yeah, I hear what you're saying. So culture is the most important thing in the world to me. At the end of my life, when I look back, I will always say that that's been the most important thing, making a work environment that people want to be around at is so important, we're lacking that in society. So people want to be a part of it, the problem you have with customer service that we've run into is it's not a job that you can go stand by the watercooler for 15 minutes. An extra five minutes talking to your co team member, because the calls are constantly coming in, it's a speed game, right? We need to get the calls answered as fast as possible. If our queues too high, we're going in there to yell at them. We will sometimes have an after work happy hour in our back warehouse, and I was talking to our customer service reps about this. They've got to stay on the phones, because we don't have solutions, right? And they kind of feel like they're drowning in a pool. And people are having a party on the side of the pool. So it's a funny thing that I'm learning with customer service like, what else can I give them. And what I've started to realize recently, is I want to help people open doors to the next step in their career. So really trying to work with the customer service reps like "Hey, listen, excel at this job that you're in right now. But there is a career here for you at Precision, there's a career for you in the service industry." So that's what I'm really trying to do and that's hard. Then kind of flipping it back on to you, marketing issues, people they expect a certain level of competence. And we're dealing with constant fluctuations and change in human beings in these roles. And listen that owner's wife that you were talking about? Who knows what's going on? You know, the business? I don't know, I get it is so easy to say "Well, why can't they just be nice? But why can't the customers just be nice?" So it's a struggle that we constantly have and it's a tough job. It's a really tough job in our in our business.

Justin 13:57

Is there a certain amount of time you talked about like they can't sit by the watercooler? If I was sitting there and I had to answer phones for 8 hours of the day, the whole day, I would be mush by the end of the day. Do you give them breaks? Is there things that you do to try because that's a recipe I feel like for burnout really quickly. You go in, you're like sitting there on the phone, like you said, you're talking to maybe some customers, I'm sure there's some very nice customers, you're talking to some angry customers and like, are there things you do there to try and avoid the burnout? Because I can imagine that can be a stressful day. And you continue to do that if you're just on the phones 24/7 for your workda. Is there anything that you've thought about with that or no?

Brandon 14:42

No, definitely. The issue is when you look at it, the business is runnin. You're a car driving 100 miles an hour and this is one of those things where the marketing company that's attending the leads. If this is so important to me running this business, handling leads properly is one of the most important things in the world. We both can argue, you tell me all the time how much money I waste in certain areas. And I'm just trying my best to handle these leads. So being human, having people say "Hey, get off the phones take a break until I have the extra people." It's hard to do. But we have been looking at that we've been working with our call center, and they have the same issues and giving people the break. I really think it's around, if I had to guess talking to people, that 40 Call range. Right between 30 to 50 calls.

Justin 14:45

So that is per day. So you say that's kind of a number that you shoot for, 30 to 40, ideally 40 calls per day is an amount where you're getting value, and they're not sitting there at the end of the day, like oh my gosh what happened.

Brandon 15:58

And I've been calling them sprints recently. So I try and get our customer service reps to go on Sprint's. They used to feel like they were coming in at certain times, eight o'clock and leaving at four o'clock or 430. And it was a marathon, they're on the phones all day, they get to go use the bathroom, get that drink of water when they're running the marathon. I've tried to explain to them more recently that it's more of, we need to have a bunch of sprints during the day. A bunch of points where you're running as fast as you can, you're answering all these calls but after...

Justin 16:28

You get a chance to decompress for a little bit, and then okay I'm ready to do it again soon.

Brandon 16:33

And that brings me into the point that I want to ask you, because you've brought up when it comes to marketing. Like the ways marketing leads come in. They're not just coming in from phone calls, right? When you think of customer service, and we've always thought about customer service. We've thought about phone calls, it's the most important thing, right? Going back to the Yellow Pages, the only way people are finding you are phone calls, but that's changing quickly. I mean, talk about it, how many different places? What are some of the other places leads are coming in right now?

Justin 17:04

Yeah, so we actually built a tool, that's an online scheduler, where it connects directly to your CRM, and a customer can go and book the job themselves on the schedule and it knows based on how you have your dispatch board set up, when availability is and where to place it. What technician to place it on, or if you use some type of open tech concept, but built that out. And I think that's something that in the future here is going to be used more and more especially for these younger generations, a lot of people don't want to call, and as this younger generation gets older and older, people are going to want to move to that right? Oh, I can go in and just book and someone's going to show up, and I don't have to talk to a single person. So we've seen in many markets that have started to use that adaptation, like your New Jersey market, I think over 30% of the website leads come from that scheduler now. So that's a great thing, right? Like you're talking about your team, you're kind of moving some of that off of your team having to answer those calls. And that kind of just automatically goes on the schedule. So that's one thing we're seeing. The other thing that I see is, or I guess we see as an agency, not everybody, obviously, not all leads come in as a call. The calls are the easiest, because you have that customer there and you can have that conversation and try and book them and get them on the schedule. But when it's a form, that's where we've seen things tend to go sideways as well. We have this thing called the online garage door showroom for our garage door clients, where someone can browse doors that are available and submit for a quote. So then from there, you would get that quote, then what is your process to go and book that. And ultimately, you would want to book that into a free estimate at the customer's home, what is your process for booking that at that point. We actually did a study with a lot of our customers on how they turn those leads into jobs and then into revenue. And there's just wildly different results depending on the processes that you have. But like there's a million places that come in as forms. Yelp, or if you do anything with Angie's List, a lot of that comes in as a form, right? A lot of people on their websites have a form, like I just said, the online garage door showroom, in your case, like these are all places where the customer isn't necessarily calling, but you need to have a process to be able to turn that into a lead and if you don't, you're not going to turn any of it. You need to be able to follow up quickly right? A lot of this is speed if someone you know has a broken garage door in your case. They're looking for someone to come now. If they contacted let's say you and someone else, the first person usually to get on the phone with them is going to be the one that wins that job. So the speed. There's a lot of things we looked at like how are you contacting them back? Are you trying to call once and then you're done? Or, do you follow up a couple times? Sometimes people fill these things out, and they're at work, right? And maybe they can't answer the phone. But if you text them, then they can answer and you're starting that conversation. So that's just another spot that we've seen where sometimes there can be gaps there that you need to think about. Basically, what's your process?

Brandon 20:32

And you know, it's funny, those are the two different types of customers, one customer who's calling and saying I'm ready to book. Or they're going on your online scheduler, which honestly, your online scheduler has been a lifesaver. Because that's taken so much pressure off of our phones, it's got 100%, the customer enters the data so the accuracy is better. There's so many things that that the customer is doing that's making our lives better. And plus, we are getting unbelievable reviews from customers telling us how much they love that. So thank you again.

Justin 21:08

Street2Fleet by the way, if anybody wants to go look it up.

Brandon 21:12

you straight to fleet to fleet.com. I'm getting a tattoo soon. And those along with the calls where the customers want to just book, there pretty straightforward. Where the customer says I want to book, you help them through the process. The second part is there's inquiries, right. And I look at inquiries as a funny thing, because that is that big area. That's one of the main reasons why we're having this conversation, because so many people have these customers that are interested. But they're not 100% bought in yet. Right? You were just saying that, like they're going on, they're building a door on our Online Showroom. They're interested, they're not saying I want to buy this door necessarily. They're saying I'm interested in this door, right? If they called us up, and say today I'm ready to buy then they're interested. And you've exposed so many areas where, and I'm appreciative of it because when I come to you and say "Hey, what the heck's going on?" You said "Well, you have point the finger at yourself first." And how we handle those inquiries has been a major topic of conversation recently, and thanks to you, you've initiated that, we're we're looking at the process of how we do it. And the problem I will say internally is, which I'm trying to coach our team is when we have a problem, and our problem is we want to find the best way to handle Yelp leads, these inquiries, these leads, these messages, our team will find the first solution to that problem, rather than actively trying to find the optimal solution of the way to book that. Talk about what you did. So we had an online showroom for doors, where the customers would go and build their doors that they liked. And then they tend to fill a form out. We thought, hey, we're doing pretty good on it. We've got $50,000 in revenue from this, or whatever it was, things are good, we're happy. But our data wasn't perfect the way we tracked it, you guys went in to actually find accurate data, talk about that study you did for us. That was really interesting.

Justin 23:13

Yeah, so we work with a lot of Precision franchises. So we have many of them using this. And we wanted to go and see what did you guys actually get out of these leads? Was it turning into booked jobs? Was it turning into revenue for you guys. Because this was a tool that we built, we knew that people like to shop this way where they wanted to see what doors were available. So we did that. And it was a manual study, we basically went in and pulled all the customers names that submitted forms, and then went into your CRMs and looked if they turned into a booked job, looked for if you sold that job? Was it an estimate that you didn't sell, it's followed all the way through to the point of sale. And there's just dramatically different results. I think on the high end, some of the people had better processes and were turning 70% of those leads into home estimates. And I forget what percentage in terms of selling them. But on the low end, people were turning only 15% of those leads into in home estimates. So clearly there was different processes and different things going on there. That will affect ultimately how much revenue you end up making off of those leads.

Brandon 23:15

Talk about the data points.

Justin 23:28

So we looked at how many got onto your schedule as an in home estimate. We looked at how many ended up getting sold. What was the total sales number what was the average ticket, we looked at a bunch of stuff.

Brandon 24:51

You looked at unsold estimates.

Justin 24:53

Yeah, we looked at that as well unsold estimates. If you did get in the home, how many did you end up selling? How many did you not sell? So it's just interesting, when you get a big data set, you can see, depending on how you handle those things, it was dramatic. There was one customer, I think turned each lead that they got into an average of $2,000 in revenue. And there was another client, where it was $100 in revenue per lead is what they ended up with. And this is over a three month period, a good sample size. So that just shows you what you do, you can get the lead. Unless you have those processes, it can be dramatically different on what that ends up resulting in. In terms of revenue for your business.

Brandon 25:37

Yeah, my brain exploded when I saw this. You're right, it's because you built this part of our website, just like any lead, you built a lead generation tool, whether it's a mailer, whether it's PPC, your job is to drive customers to us, and then have us book, that's your job. Then you're handing the baton off. And I think the struggle that I've noticed with marketing agencies is, you can do an amazing job. But if the customer, the client is not booking those jobs, and then converting those jobs, you're not going to look good, because it's up to them.

Justin 26:19

We will at this point, before we take anyone on qualify them, like if we don't feel confident that they're going to be able to at least do a decent job on the booking and even the sales end. It's never gonna work out, the equation won't work out, if you can't do those things somewhat competently. That's ultimately not going to work.

Brandon 26:46

So you'll turn away people, even though it's a big ticket, like a big client?

Justin 26:51

Yeah, we're not into building a relationship for a few months, and then it doesn't work, that's not good for us, it's not good for you. So, ultimately, we got to be somewhat confident that you have your stuff together, answering the phones, and then sales and all of that to realize value. Like it's got to be a win win. And, if you just don't have those processes it never can be.

Brandon 27:19

That's great. And when you built this part of the website, where it was driving leads, it was a home run. I didn't know how good it was, I just thought "Oh, this is a really nice part of our website," looking at this data made me realize, "Oh, my God this was another broken part of our company". If you didn't run this report, it would have been really hard to see, because sometimes the customer doesn't get booked correctly. Who knows. And I know you guys are really working on integrating all leads into Service Titan. Which I want to get to right after this, because I think that's really going to help us. But I looked at our team and I said, Okay, this is a two fold problem. One, how are we handling the lead once it gets sent to us as an inquiry. And what our team was doing wrong was they were reaching out twice over the phone. And when the customer didn't answer, they just kind of let it go. Rather than sending out a text message ,rather than sending out an email, each got to somebody in some other unorthodox way, or some other standard way that we could do that. Then once we got the lead, we were closing and we were doing an okay job from there.

Justin 28:31

You're selling it. Once you got in the door, it was a normal sale.

Brandon 28:34

Above our company average, which when we looked across the network, we were fine. We spot the issue that we were having.

Justin 28:42

It was that initial getting it onto the schedule.

Brandon 28:44

And it was because it was a broken process. What my team was doing was they were taking this inquiry, this lead, and they were calling twice, and then they were dropping it.

Justin 28:53

Yeah, what if I'm at work in this meeting right now and you call me and I can't answer it.

Brandon 28:58

Yeah and then what happens is they don't call us back. We play phone tag, and then that lead would get put into a completed box when it's not completed. It's an unbooked box. But the customer service reps, and I give them all the credit in the world because they're moving 1000 miles an hour. And they are not necessarily looking at how to thrive, they are looking at how to how to survive. That is one thing that I've always learned is they actually zoom out at the end of the day, they just want to survive the day.

Justin 29:28

So in your case, you're big enough, it probably will get an ROI if you had someone just literally handle all of your forms and non phone call type leads because it sounds like they're answering phone calls, they're doing all this stuff. And, then these forms come in and you got to think about it that way too with customer service. I know you think the numbers and how much I'm spending here, but to have the coverage of someone to just handle that or have an extra person to be able to answer the calls, all that ends up making a difference in the jobs you book and worth overhiring and making sure you have coverage.

Brandon 30:17

In customer service, it is a luxury, I have a luxury right? Once you get to a certain revenue spot, you can start changing things and having people in specialized roles, somebody who is in just customer retention, somebody who's in just this. But the problem and you see a lot of your clients are not above $10 million, or some of them are and some aren't. A lot of people listen to this art, and they've got that same problem where they have all of these leads coming in. And it's just a really tough way to manage. I know the one solution that you guys have had, because we're a client of Service Titan. Big fan of theirs. You're trying to funnel all the leads into where?

Justin 31:00

Into Service Titan. Yeah. So with these forms they don't make it into Service, Titan unless you make it a point to go do that. And like connect the service manually and push it in there. I mean I guess you could manually go and put every single lead in. But if you're having trouble even following up, I don't know if you're going to be manually putting the leads in. Basically, what we've been looking at is, all of the places all the forms that don't happen via phone call, we're connecting to Service Titans API and pushing that in. So then at least you can you can see what's going on. So when we've kind of pulled this data, we did it manually, we went and said, Okay, you got 30 leads this month for the online showroom. And then we went into the CRM and said, Okay, 10 of them made it into the CRM and you sold however many, we had to do that manually. But if we're now the other API going to push that into Service Titan, we're almost done, I gotta go check and see how close we are to doing this. So every lead would get in there, and at least now it's measured, and you can see how you're doing. And then you'll be able to see the process you put in place, does that improve? You know, you got 30 leads next month, and before you were only booking 10 of them, you put in a new process, and now it went up to 20. Great, we're headed in the right direction. So what can be measured can be managed, it's kind of like that situation, right? Like, let's get it in there so that you can measure it, and then be able to understand how you're doing versus kind of this abyss of messages that went out. And I have no idea what happened with any of them, which is kind of how it was was set up.

Brandon 32:41

Yeah, and no honestly, right now, they come in as they come in as emails. So we have a Trillo board, which is a tool used. And that process obviously is not not perfect, but having them in Service Titan being able to text customers through a Service Titan email through all of that. The goal is, we're not going to book it 100%, that's impossible. But to be able to improve on the process, the biggest problem I will say is people have a process and they just set it and they forget it. And then they want to point fingers at why things aren't going well, when you need to be looking at your processes constantly. And people don't want to do that. It's really hard. It's hard for me to get managers and people to do it. Because there's just so much going on in the service industry it's one of these things where there's always a fire to put out. And, you know, going upstream, we talked about this internally, it becomes a downstream problem where at the bottom, you find this problem and you're trying to fight this problem. Really, we need to go to the beginning and find out where's the problem coming from upstream and we need to figure that out. So when it comes to these leads, we're definitely seeing that I think putting it in Service Titan is going to help. Honestly, driving a lot of people to Street2Fleet for us, our Online Booker will be huge. When they get to the end of a really good experience that they have on our website. You guys built a great website for us getting them to book right there and then is amazing, right? So it's funny, we even get leads from from our comments section of Tik Tok or Facebook, it's wild and you know, handling these different ways. It's just things that you don't imagine.

Justin 34:34

Yeah, there's a lot of plays that you just mentioned. There's Local Service Ads, you ask your customer service team, you're supposed to go in there and respond to leads in there. There's a million places so it's just really dialing down those processes and making sure that you got that as tight as possible. It's how you're going to be most successful. It's never perfect, but you know. I have a question for you. What are the main KPIs that you use to kind of measure the success of how you guys are doing? I would imagine booking rate is one thing. What are the main KPIs that you use there?

Brandon 35:12

Yeah, so booking rate is huge, right? We want to be able to know that we're booking people at a certain rate that we need to.

Justin 35:19

Is there a number you shoot for with that?

Brandon 35:22

Yeah. So typically 85% is where we've gone. We've had got people higher than that, it's a manipulatable number. We try to pay people on these KPIs, and they try to manipulate them.

Justin 35:35

So how do they manipulate them?

Brandon 35:38

Well, if they say that a job is not an opportunity, like it's not a customer that's qualified to be a customer of ours.

Justin 35:49

You get rid of, for booking rate it's only bookable calls. So if someone calls and says, "Hey, can I talk to Brandon, I'm a vendor of his or whatever." That's not a bookable call.

Brandon 35:52

But sometimes they'll get a customer that'll call in. And it's like, kind of on the border line where they'll say, Well, that shouldn't be counted towards our booking rate, if a customer calls in with an inquiry. They don't think that it's necessarily a job that should count against their booking rate. And it should.

Justin 36:18

Do you put the onus on them to say this is a bookable call or not?

Brandon 36:21

Yes, we do. But then we audit it, we spot check it. Again, it's another person, right? Would you rather have somebody spot checking calls or following up on leads, so that booking rate is huge, average call time, right? If you have somebody booking at a high rate, but they're spending seven minutes on a phone with somebody that's high, we usually have people around three minutes per phone call.

Justin 36:44

So there's a sweet spot I'd imagine that if you're taking too long, right, that's less calls you can answer. But also you don't want them rushing the customer off the phone and saying, "what's your address? Okay, I'm gonna go" so you said, three minutes is that sweet spot?

Brandon 37:00

But those are high level surface level KPIs. The reality is, when you start to dive deep into it, what are the hardest ones to book and how to your customer service reps or team handle this, and it's the ones that are pricing concerns. When somebody has a pricing concern we really coach our team, we don't give pricing over the phone. Sometimes it just doesn't end well, because the customer is asking us something that they don't know and they're going to make a decision based on a price that's not 100%. So, like, we will work with our team. So getting better ways to report on those KPIs. And I know you and I were looking at some different tools to get better reporting, if I can get that information. Um, you know, customer retention. When a customer calls in to cancel, and they save that customer that doesn't necessarily show up as a KPI that you can easily retain. That you can easily gather, but that is huge. The retention of a customer is enormous. So there's a lot of other KPIs.

Justin 38:03

The price shopping one is an interesting one. I feel like we can have different views on, I feel like we could go into a whole episode of how do you handle price shoppers, right? Like I've heard some people say "Listen, if they're a price shopper, they're not my customer. I don't care about it." You know, so like some people take that approach. Some people, you're spending the marketing dollars to bring them in, so why not? Get your tech in the garage, and try and work through that. And I know, we've talked about that a lot with your team. And I feel like that's a nuanced one. You said you don't like to answer the question. So when I asked what do you then? "Hey, how much does a spring cost?" Like what is your customer service rep say then if you don't want to answer it? So what do you do?

Brandon 38:48

And that's a great question, right? We usually like to answer a question with another question. Because you're starting to qualify, and then the customers have to understand that this is not just a simple black and white answer. You know, great, I'd love to help you with that. What type of spring system do you have in your house? And then we go down that list and then you start asking them other qualifying questions. Do you want high cycle? Do you want standard? What are you looking for? The goal of that call? And the goal of all of our calls is just to get our people in front of the customers face, our service technicians in front of the customers face. People think sometimes that they need to answer all the customers questions. No, we go to a lot of customers for free, free estimates knowing I'd rather give them a chance in front of that customer. We actually had one the other day. Our customer service rep did a phenomenal job the customer got upset because we would not give her the price. We were the only company that wouldn't give her the price. She was so mad. And we said I'm sorry, but this is it but we can send somebody out to your property and she had all these demands. Great. We get our technician out to the property He winds up going out there, he sells them the highest end motor that we have. And you would have thought by listening to this call, there's no way this customer is going to do business with us. But the problem goes back to originally, what I had, we have some really talented people, like that person who booked that call, she's going on to different places in her life. And I hope to God I can retain her because she's awesome. The big thing is, we spend so much time in our business focusing on the other parts, you know, sales, I spend so much time on sales. That's my favorite part, right? I want to help the guys get better. And spending the time here. You don't see the immediate impact on your business. But I have to and I'm trying, I'm spending weekly now I'm meeting with my customer service reps, I'm learning about their hopes and dreams, I'm trying to figure out where they want to go in their lives. And I have to coach them. So that's a sale, the girl who booked that job still believes she's not good at sales, she can never be good at sales. And she's wrong. She stood her ground, she got a customer to book with us, and we closed the job. So when they handed the baton, when you handed the baton to us. Most people would say, "Well, that was an impossible job to book. " No, she grabbed the baton, and then she handed it right to the technician and then he closed it. And that's huge for us. And, you know, it's hard. But yeah, it's an area of our business where I want to devote more time and energy to, but it's gonna be costly, right. And that's a lot of things, you know, you build a really good foundation and your customer service team and you're going to reap the benefits years later. It may not be in the short term. It's kind of like investing in branding, which I know we were talking a lot about. You invest in it, and then you see the fruits of your labor later on.

Justin 41:50

I think it's a lot of parts of business, right? If you want to make it better, you got to put the investment in, and eventually you might not get the reward right now, but in the long term you're in a better spot.

Brandon 42:03

Yeah, and the sales. The problem is, I know if I work with the sales team, the team that's service team that's going out to the customers, I can have this immediate gratification because I can see the ticket average go up. It all connects. And everybody who listens to this.

Justin 42:21

I would say, you know, the booking percentage is just as important as your tech's ticket average, right? Like, that should be a number that you look at and is just as important.

Brandon 42:32

Yeah, it is. I know. And you're learning but it's setting those operations, working with people like yourself, Justin, when you give us data that's eye opening. You know, it wakes us up a little bit. And, where we started off the show is where I would give people this advice with their marketing agency, before you point your finger at your marketing agency and what they're doing. You got to look in the mirror and think about what you can be doing better. That is my one big piece of advice, I've always kind of said to people, are you perfect? Because if you're going to call and kick and scream about things not going well, how are you handling your leads? And really, is it good? Do you have good data to report on? So I really enjoyed this conversation. Justin, this is a hot topic for us recently. So I'm looking forward to kind of reporting back to you in a few months on how we are booking at higher rates.

Justin 43:34

Maybe in a later episode we can hear all your successes and how much that has improved.

Brandon 43:43

No, it's awesome. And as always, I appreciate your guys support. It's huge revenue marketing, you see you and A2O Digital.

Justin 43:52

Ultimately, you just want a partnership right from both sides, where you can work together and continually improve. That's ultimately what we're looking for. I'm sure that's what you are looking for as well, right? Whenever it kind of leans towards not being that, that's when it gets a little tough, but you know, you guys are a great partner and we always work together and are just always looking to how to make things better. So cool.

Brandon 44:20

All right. Excellent.

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