Think of the popular viral videos showing people online—and sometimes on national TV—saying things and doing things they thought were private. Given this phenomenon, it may be worth taking stock of your current plumbing technician training and continuing education.
Reputable home service businesses train their staff and hire personable, qualified, and trustworthy individuals. If your training doesn’t touch on the fact that many homes now have home security and surveillance equipment, you may be missing an important step. Your employees are your most important asset and are on the front lines representing your brand. They’re in the field, delivering quality service every day inside the homes of your customers, and it may be worthwhile to remind them that when they enter in a home, they could be on someone’s “candid camera.”
Some viral videos can be funny – like this one titled Plumber caught dancing on the job, and occasionally a video can even boost your company’s brand awareness, but oftentimes, if a viral video involves a worker, it’s NOT a good thing.
Recently, a UPS employee was caught on a homeowner’s security system chucking a package onto the owner’s front lawn from 20 feet away. It ended up garnering a lot of negative attention for that particular UPS branch. But in the video-crazed world today, cameras don’t just capture worker missteps.
Body-mounted and vehicle-mounted GoPro cameras are everywhere and have recorded car accidents, road rage incidents, assaults, and more. Cellphone videos have captured sports figures, celebrities and even presidential candidates conducting themselves poorly.
In another example, in-home service businesses were put in an unflattering light during a televised show where unscrupulous HVAC and plumbing technicians were videotaped by reporters trying to charge for work that wasn’t needed.
The truth is, incidents shown in TV shows like the one above are rare. Most homeowners are just using the latest technology to add extra protection to their existing security systems. Some video equipment can alert a homeowner when someone passes through a doorway – alerting parents their child or children have arrived at home. Another reason video surveillance is so popular is that security systems are becoming easier to install and more affordable every day.
It’s not a bad idea, these days, to assume there are cameras everywhere we go. Whether we are working in a home or walking down Main Street. Knowing that it’s possible and even probable that your plumbing staff may be videotaped while performing their jobs on-site, the best way to prepare your staff for being on camera—whether they can tell there is a camera or not— is with training.
One videotaped misstep, or words or actions taken out of context can be misinterpreted. It’s a good time to train your employees about correct behavior BEFORE it becomes an issue. Much like business executives who are media trained by professional PR agencies, service business employees should have regular training in customer service and customer relationships, with the understanding that cameras are a part of doing business.
Similar to media training, customer service training for your plumbing technicians can cover the steps necessary to avoid creating a negative impression—no matter the situation. Here are my top customer service training suggestions for plumbing technicians working in customer homes with (or without) video cameras or security systems:
1. Wear visible identification.
Wear clearly visible, business branded ID badges with photos.
2. Introduce yourself with a smile.
You cannot redo a first impression. Customers appreciate a well-spoken and personable technician, and are more likely to engage with you if you’re outgoing.
3. Cleanliness is a must.
Hands and fingernails should be clean when meeting the homeowner. Uniforms give a better impression than street clothes, and should always be neat and clean. I don’t recommend smoking on the job; most customers don’t want the smell of smoke in their home. Offer to wear shoe covers.
4. Explain pricing and any extra costs upfront and openly.
This is an area that makes homeowners nervous anyway, so be friendly, honest, and to the point, when it comes to providing an estimate. You might not have a TV crew staked out around the corner to worry about, but your actions reflect on the entire business.
4. Explain what you are about to do.
Without going into technical detail, explain simply to the owner what you’re doing and make sure you follow your stated plan. If a videotape is reviewed, this will show your clear intentions.
5. Make sure work is timely, professional, and purposeful.
If you approach work with the idea that you’re a guest in someone’s home, you’ll be more likely to work in a timely, professional, and purposeful way. This is how every technician should be working, anyway.
6. Always alert the homeowner to any change of location.
If you need to go from room-to-room or move from one location to another, clearly state your intentions and ask permission. Leave no room for questions about your whereabouts, and always state your activities, location, and information to the homeowner. This also covers any questions that might arise from a videotaped review of your visit.
7. Show consideration for the property and tidy up.
The impression you make on the homeowner is what they will remember, and showing that you care about their home matters. Imagine watching a videotape of your work day with your family later. Would they be proud?
It’s possible for a simple conversation to be recorded on video camera and become misconstrued. The key is to remind your field technicians that whenever they enter a customer’s house, they are entering into your customer’s safe space. Respect this space by utilizing these tips—among other great tactics you may have—to ensure they deliver a consistent level of quality through proper training.
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