Business Communication – Customer Service – Intuition – What Counts?

I need to immediately replace my air conditioning unit–yes, the whole shebang. Why the urgency? I’m in Orlando–can you say 85 degrees plus humidity. Lucky for me I’m a warm weather gal but even I have my limits.

So I’m waiting for the second of the 3 AC services I’ve been in contact with to show up and give me a quote. Which, of course, got me thinking about how businesses communicate…you knew I was going there right?

The first contender, whom I called directly, shows up a few minutes late but he did call a few minutes prior to our appointment time to let me know he was running behind. No points off…he called promptly and I know how things go in labor service.

He explains everything and calls me to come downstairs so he can show me exactly what the problem is, explaining it completely and in terms that I can understand. He tells me why he loves doing this work (loves doing AC, go figure) and why he uses a particular brand. He tells me he’ll send me a quote by email  in the next 15-20 minutes (after verbally giving me the same quote) but the email doesn’t come in until hours later (with an apology.) The quote is simply parts cost  (with a detailed description  of everything and warranty info) and labor.

Our second AC specialist calls me after I do on online search that produces several local options. To his credit he did generate an automatic email response followed by a phone message, followed by a phone call. Points for tenacity and follow-up.

He tells me he can be here at the time I request (an hour after the call) and he is prompt. He takes several measurements, gives me an explanation as to why he uses the brand(s) he recommends and hands me a written quote. He lumps labor into parts but adds in what he calls necessities explaining that he is only adding what I need (meaning others add it all into one sum.) When I asked about using the existing slab he admits leaving that out but says he won’t charge me extra. When I specifically ask the labor charge I don’t get the specific answer I’m seeking. Points off.  He does add in a permit charge which isn’t cheap. And, his overall quote is $400 higher than the first.

Now the third contender, a major big box retailer won’t be able to come out until tomorrow at 4:00 PM. Ugh, I’m sweating and my service has been out since Tuesday. I think they lost my business on that alone. Listen, I ‘m appreciative that I have air conditioning at all and I’m not oblivious to those who are not as privileged, however, I work from a home office and this heat just makes me drowsy–not terrific for sales calls.

This last contender had an operator call the instant I make the online inquiry. Her job is to make the appointment and clearly she can’t answer any of my questions. She makes one attempt to see if someone can get here sooner than the next day but cheerfully gets back on the line pushing the late day appointment for tomorrow (Saturday.)

The first two contenders were smaller operations and I spoke directly with the owners. I know exactly who will be showing up to do the install in the first case, somewhat of an idea in the second and so far, no clue on the third (yes, because the appt. is tomorrow.)

That’s the overall picture without further nitty-gritty, however, my second contender just called to say that if I make a choice by 6 PM tomorrow he’ll be able to do the work on Monday.

Okay, you ask, what’s the bottom line. The bottom line is that pros and cons do not a decision make–frankly, neither does lowest bid (although it is a factor.) The bottom line in communication is a combination of good communication, honesty, reputation and intuition.

Huh, intuition? Yes. I recently spoke about this in my teleseminar course, The 5 Really Smart and Simple Steps to Relaunching Your Life. Pay attention to your intuition–not just price or friendliness or even reputation. And yes, do your homework.

So who will I choose? Pretty sure I already know…but you’ll have to wait to find out.


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