Top tips from plumbers on customer relations

When working in a customer’s home, it goes without saying that completing a high-quality job is a top priority. However, it is just as important to develop good, trusting relationships with customers – from following social distancing, to involving them in the choice of products. 

Hep2O has released its State of the Nation 2020 report to help plumbers by finding out exactly what matters to their customers. The push-fit plastic pipe brand has been speaking to customers across the country and the research has led to some fascinating findings which will help plumbers develop great relationships with their customers.

So, what do plumbers make of it all? Over to them…

Over half of customers said they somewhat trust their plumber, but only 30% trust them alone in their house completely. Do you feel like you’re trusted to be alone?

Zac Squires (@squiresplumbing): I think it’s more common not to be left alone when it’s a new customer and it’s the first time you’re visiting their home. A lot of customers wouldn’t be happy to leave you with their keys and go to work because they don’t know who you are. They may have had a recommendation from someone else, but they can still be cautious. Once you’ve done a job for them and they’re happy with it, I find that customers are a lot more likely to leave you in their house alone, which is good for them too as it means they don’t have to take time off work.

Heather Clark (@heatherclarkgas): Customers will tell me to help myself to anything and often leave me their keys. I’ve never felt like I’ve not been trusted in their house. A lot of the time, it’s the other way round, and customers want to make sure I’m okay with them going out for a bit.

32% of customers said they choose products based on their plumber’s recommendation. Do you try to influence your customer in their decision making, or do you let them take the lead role? 

Ian Briggs (@irbheating): I think it depends really. For example, if it’s a boiler, I’ll put my own preference across based on the experience I’ve had with them. With bathrooms and plumbing products, there’s a lot more variety so I think it’s helpful to show customers pictures of previous work to help them make a decision. 

Todd Glister (@glisterservices): I’ll often get asked if there’s anything I recommend, then we talk about budgets and tend to meet in the middle. I do have my favourites, but I make sure that I take costs into account for the customer when recommending a product. It’s great when a customer already knows what product they want, however, I think the most important thing is getting a good job done with the best product. 

Wayne Bettess (@plumbchat): Every plumber that a customer speaks to will recommend different products, whether that’s a boiler, tool, pipe or fitting. I find that when I’m in front of the customer, they actually like to be led and receive those recommendations, so yes, I do generally take the lead and help them to come to the best decision. 

Almost half of the customers surveyed said they pay their plumber immediately upon completion of the job. Does this happen often?  

Wayne Bettess (@plumbchat): I think customers not paying on time is one of my biggest pet peeves. This happens more often on smaller jobs which can be really frustrating as these are the ones which add up. I’ve actually got a card machine now that’s built into my phone which really helps with bank transfers as it means they can be done there and then on the day.  

Marcus Bull (@mbplumbing): We’ve started taking deposits of forty per cent and ever since we’ve done that, customers seem to be a bit quicker with payments. Sometimes if they have a big lump sum to pay, they don’t want to pay it. However, if they have two smaller amounts, payments do seem to be a lot quicker. I also find that when a customer has already paid a deposit, they’re less likely to cancel a job. 

Zac Squires (@squiresplumbing): I find that for estate agents, it’s always 30 days for payments to be made, unless the materials come to more than around £500, then we take payments upfront. For regular customers, I say it takes up to about 7 days. 

Due to the pandemic, customers now expect safety precautions such as social distancing, wearing masks, and wearing gloves. How do you keep your customers safe?

Andy Cam (@cosywarmplumber): Right at the very beginning of lockdown, I was wearing full PPE – masks, goggles, everything. It was totally different to normal and I felt like I was out of Ghostbusters when I was going into homes! If you’re doing four or five jobs a day, replacing PPE can become really expensive, but obviously it’s part of the job and it has to be done. When lockdown started to ease, I went down to just wearing overshoes, a mask and gloves, and I am always equipped with hand sanitiser and spray. It all comes down to helping the customer feel safe in their own home.

Lee Brown (@thepeakyplumber): I’ve been making sure I always wear gloves and a mask. For one customer I wore a full-face shield as she was really vulnerable. To put her at ease, it was only myself that went into her house. I went through the back door and into the kitchen, and the only thing I actually touched was the boiler, to limit contact and help to keep the customer safe. 

To find out more about Hep2O’s State of the Nation 2020 campaign and to watch the discussions firsthand, visit: https://www.wavin.com/en-gb/sotn 

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