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6 Mistakes Home Improvement Call Centers Are Making

June 16, 2020

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Joe Carmichael
Written By
Joe Carmichael

As home improvement businesses start to pick back up (at an accelerated rate, no less), this time presents a perfect opportunity to re-examine some of the call center processes you have in place.

The one thing that the entire home improvement and remodeling industry has been in agreement on is this - business isn’t business as usual anymore.

In order to take charge of your market and blow past your competitors, you need to refine how your team connects with leads, sets and conducts appointments, and engages customers once the sale has been made in this post-COVID world that we refer to as the “new normal.”

Here are six things that we see call centers doing wrong that can negatively impact their ability to achieve these goals.

1. Not Making Virtual Appointments An Option for Customers

It is too easy to get back into the swing of things by simply picking back up where you left off. Simply put, this is a huge mistake that plenty of your competitors will make.

Things have changed. People have realized that just as much work can be done over a virtual call.

In an industry driven by in-home appointments, many home improvement companies are starting to adopt virtual appointments for a number of reasons like site visit cost savings, and customer-desired experiences.

While the home improvement industry will never go fully digital - an in-person appointment is still important in correctly recording interior remodeling job measurements, for instance - there is a case to be made for a balance of the two.

Striking this balance and allowing your call center to give customers the option for appointment type when setting an appointment will give you the upper-hand.

If you’re on the fence about implementing virtual appointments - just know that your competitors aren’t.

“In May, we saw our greatest growth with our user base doubling,” said Rachel Johnson, chief marketing office at One Click Contractor, a virtual appointment platform built for the industry.

“Home improvement companies across the country are realizing that virtual appointments are not only convenient, but in many cases are now a necessity by customer request.”

 

Check out our digital toolkit to learn more about some of the free virtual appointment options your team can implement quickly. Also be sure to read our how-to blog on conducting effective virtual appointments.

2. Undefined Lead Distribution and Disposition Processes

This mistake was prevalent for call centers and sales teams even before COVID.

Process creates results, and not having a clearly defined lead distribution and disposition strategy in place will inhibit your call center’s ability to outperform your goals each week.

Lead distribution is the process of when a lead comes in, how does it properly get distributed through your call center to the appropriate person to handle?

Properly routing incoming requests is an important part of your customer experience - if your lead sits on hold too long or doesn’t get a question answered, you’re going to lose out on a positive review.

 

Lead disposition is the process of detailing what happened to that lead once they were properly distributed. Who received it, what was the need, and what was the outcome?

Creating lead disposition statuses in your CRM will help you better understand each lead and how your call center effectively handled them.

As we coach our clients, all of these details are extremely important when creating effective messaging strategies around things like rehash/revisits, database mining, and review requests.

In our recent interview with home improvement strategy consultant Rick McIntire of Dave Yoho Associates, Rick broke these down even further and analyzed how he coaches businesses on building a methodology around these processes.

 

 

3. Not Rewarding Individual Performances

Too often, call centers can fall into a habit of putting an emphasis on group results and not individual performances.

This is a mistake that can not only cost your business your top-performing call center reps, but create an apathy around your team to tow-the-line without going above and beyond.

Rewarding results not only helps you keep your top performers engaged and happy, but also creates a healthy competition amongst your other call center reps.

According to research from Medium and LinkedIn, work rivalries are a healthy way to keep your team engaged and outperform their status quo.

The easiest way to reward your top performers is to simply provide them the chance to field more incoming leads.

It’s a win-win - they get an opportunity to make more money, and your call center performance can improve by allowing your top rep to handle more leads.

 

We recently spoke with Megan McGuire, director of sales and call center operations at All-Weather Seal West Michigan on how she approaches rewarding top performers with weekly “hot hand reports.”

 

 

4. Focusing Too Heavily on Products - Not Appointments

What is your call center selling - products or appointments?

Without a talk track or coaching around your call center’s main objectives, you could be sending mixed messages to your team, and ultimately your leads. Confusion is the quickest way to lose an opportunity.

The remedy for this mistake simply comes down to coaching. How are you talking to your call center reps about how to handle incoming messages?

 

At the end of the day, there are only three request types that a lead can make related to your business -

  • More information on products
  • A quote/estimate
  • A non-sales question (installations, grievances, etc.)

You can coach reps on each of these scenarios by holding weekly or monthly coaching sessions, pulling actual conversations that your team has had with leads, and describing why or why not that approach was effective.

Better situational awareness will always lead to better performance.

5. No Instant Lead Engagement in Place

Without a doubt, speed-to-lead is the biggest indicator of how well your business can perform against competition.

Relying simply on calling or VoIP software is a mistake many companies make. The antiquated train of thought - “we just need to call this lead within 5-10 minutes” - is just that - an old line of thinking that can have a detrimental effect on your appointment-set rate.

Unless you’re responding to a customer within 30 seconds, they’re already more than likely on a competitors website.

It makes sense, right - when someone has set aside time to source options for a high-consideration purchase, they don’t want to drag out the process of waiting to hear back.

The highest amount of interest a lead will ever have in your service is the moment they indicate they’re interested.

 

As time goes on, they’ll get busy or start having those conversations with your competition and that hot lead will cools off significantly.

Instant engagement gives you an edge on your competitors and gives your customers the experience they expect.

6. Missing Business Messaging Technology to Offset Smaller Teams

With call center reps being reduced across the country, many call centers are short-staffed and starting to become overloaded with requests.

There’s no true replacement for staff when it comes to fielding calls, but you can put software in place to help bridge that gap.

Call Center dialer software like Five9 and RingCentral are helpful for both outbounding and inbounding, but let’s look at the anatomy of time spent on a call -

On average, the ideal call length to set an appointment takes four minutes and 30 seconds of uninterrupted attention.

This is ideal, but not realistic for every call. Different needs have different responses, and that can damper your call center’s time, regardless of the stringent processes you have in place.

 

Business messaging software gives your reps the ability to multi-task and set an appointment within 3-4 outbound texts on average.

With playbooks that your team can use to handle any objection or response, the time spent engaging leads with text from a cloud-based platform is cut down to seconds.

 

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Shameless Self-Plug 🔌

With Hatch, call centers across the country are miles ahead of the competition. Learn more about how we helped Kohler, Reborn Cabinets and NewPro achieve less than 30 second response times and 5x more appointments set.

 

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