Bemoaning the lack of customer service seems to have become second nature to me (and many others as well). Customer service is a rarity (sadly). Which is why I wanted to share a POSITIVE story about customer service.
On a cold Saturday evening (because it HAD to be one of the cold ones), my parents heat shut off. They are older and live at the Jersey shore, which is well populated in the summer, but NOT in the winter. There aren't a lot of businesses open in the area during the "off months." The Wawa that is about a mile from their house is probably the closest year round business. (Hence one of the most popular places in the area! Shout out to them, their coffee and daily soups!) Getting a HVAC company out there during the day is a challenge. Do I need to say what it was like on a Saturday night?
First place that my mother called I believe was the company that did their HVAC work after Superstorm Sandy. Let's call them company B. They were closed for the weekend. How does a service business close for the weekend? How can they NOT have an emergency number? I have worked in the HVAC business in the past (not in the field) and all the successful businesses have round the clock service. It may not be immediate and it WILL be expensive, but they DO have someone on call. This company did not even have an answering service; you had to leave a message on a machine. Not cool in my book.
The next company that my mother called was BIG well known (and well advertised) in the tri-state area. Someone did answer and they said they would call her back the next morning at 7 AM. All I can say is...I DON'T love those guys. (That's a hint to locals.)
When my mother told me this, I started doing a Google search for HVAC in their area. I had to admit that I couldn't believe the company that had done work at their home in the past DIDN'T have an emergency number I called for myself...and still find it difficult to believe that a business that has been around since the 1950s has no on call service.
I gave my mother the name and number of 3 companies that were in the general vicinity. She called the first one I provided (I'll call them company E) and got a person who said a technician would get back to her. A technician did not.
I prodded her to call the next company on the list. Her call was forwarded to (I believe) the owner of the company. He told her that he was unavailable that evening (and why), but told her that he could be at the house the next morning between 8-9 AM. I wasn't happy about it, but my parents had determined that they would make the best of it and wait until morning.
I don't think either of my parents slept well that night; I know I didn't because I was worried about them.
I checked in with them around 7:30. Those guys I don't love hadn't called back. No one from the first company (Company B) had called her. She was waiting for the technician from the 3rd company, BayBreeze Heat & Air to arrive. I crossed my fingers.
At 8:45 they got a call from BayBreeze. The technician (and I believe the owner) was on his way. By 9:30 they had a diagnosis, which required the technician to return to his shop and get a part. By 11, the heat was up and running. (It would obviously take a while before the house got warm, but...) The problem had been accurately diagnosed and fixed. The charge had been reasonable (especially when you consider it was a Sunday.) There was no pressure to purchase any kind of service agreement or to upsell to a new heating system. My parents and I are now huge fans of BayBreeze Heat & Air. And while I would have liked it if they hadn't had to go through a night were temperatures were below freezing outside with no heat inside, I appreciate the honesty of BayBreeze and the follow through. That's what customer service SHOULD be.
(Final note: Those guys that I don't love DID call, but an hour or so later than they said they would. The technician from company E never did.)