Don’t Let Poor Customer Service Kill Your Repair Business

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Don’t Let Poor Customer Service Kill Your Repair Business

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Getting new customers requires a lot of effort and can be very expensive (ads aren’t cheap.) Therefore, whenever you are able to gain new customers, nothing is more important than keeping them happy – if you want your business to grow (or even just survive.)

According to an article from CBS News, it costs less to keep existing customers than it does to attract new ones. In the report, CBS shared some eye-opening statistics:

  • Attracting new customers costs 5 to 10 times more than keeping the ones you have;
  • Just a 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase profits from 25 to 100 percent;
  • On average, repeat customers spend 67% more than new ones;
  • 20% of customers account for over 80% of total revenues.

Still, this is not to say that finding new customers is not important; it certainly is. Nevertheless, the numbers clearly show that, once you get a customer, keeping them is vital for your business.

So, what’s the secret to keeping customers? Well, that’s easy – great customer service!

Price is Not Everything

During the coming of age of the Baby Boomer generation, many considered price to be the primary purchasing motivator for most consumers. These days, though, the lowest price is no longer the most important thing for customers. In a Forbes magazine article, writer Shep Hyken reveals that “58% of customers will pay more for better customer service.”

Again, the numbers don’t lie. So, if your maintenance or repair business is not providing great customer service, potential new customers (and even your existing ones) will probably search for a company that does.

Furthermore, if your customer service continues to be subpar, chances are good that your business may not survive at all. Therefore, in this post, we’ll cover some ways terrible customer service can wreck your business, as well as some ways you can improve or turn things around.

Is Great Work Enough?

We understand you work really hard, and that customers love the work you do for them. But is that enough to continue to grow your business and keep it thriving? Alas, the answer is – probably not.

According to Jim Higgins in an article for the Forbes Technology Council, “a great product isn’t good enough” if you want to keep your customers happy. In the article, Higgins points out that businesses must show that they’re not just solving customers’ problem for today, but that they are there for them should they have problems or issues down the road. Thus, in a nutshell, Higgins is saying that companies have to strive to create lifetime value for their customers.

If you provide on-call maintenance or repair services, or work in a professional setting, your service is your product.

If you take the approach that a customer is a one-off or is of value only at the time of the job order or service call, you’re doing your customer (and your business) a great disservice. Unfortunately, though, this type of business approach is not at all uncommon in the on-call or professional service industry.

If yours is a service call or repair business, you are probably aware you have many competitors in your area. Therefore, if you fail to provide the best service and experiences possible for your customers, they will surely look elsewhere. Once you perform a job or service for a customer, it’s critical that they understand you’re there for them for support (or follow-up work) if the need arises.

However, just saying you will be there for a customer doesn’t always make it so. Making your promises realities takes effort. But, we will get to that a little later on.

Poor Customer Service: How it Kills

In order to provide better customer support, it’s important you realize just how much poor customer service (before or after a job) can hurt your company. Poor customer service is a disease that (if left untreated) can kill your business.

The effects of bad customer service or poor after-the-job support are not always apparent at first, but some negative symptoms will surely present themselves in time. A few of those include:

Poor Customer Service Results in Increased Churn

One of the most hurtful – and obvious – effects of bad customer service is that it causes increased customer churn. If you’re not familiar with “churn,” it’s just a not-so-fancy word that large companies and marketing teams use in place of “lost customers.” (which, of course, makes a lot more sense.)

A SuperOffice report reveals that 86% of customers value great customer experiences more than anything else when choosing where to spend their money. And a Walker study predicts that customer experiences are fast overtaking price, and product or work quality, as the key differentiator for purchase decisions.

These reports and surveys all use a bunch a big, convoluted words to say essentially one thing – if you don’t provide great customer service, then customers will find someone else (thus, the whole “churn” thing.) Anyway, the bottom line is that bad customer service will drive your customers into the arms of your competitors — every time!

Poor Customer Service Leads to Reputation Damage

Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” We cannot think of a more appropriate statement when discussing how poor customer service can ruin your business.

If when you fail to provide the best customer service, customers could be trusted to keep quiet about it and not tell others, then things wouldn’t be so bad. However, the fact is that when customers don’t feel they’ve been treated kindly or fairly, they will tell everyone they know (at least those who will listen anyway.)

A Zendesk survey and study found that 95% of respondents claimed they will usually tell at least one other person about a bad customer experience. And if that isn’t enough, 54% of those surveyed said they would tell at least five other people about unpleasant experiences with a business.

With an on-call service or repair business, word-of-mouth referrals are (100%) the difference between success and failure. So, if people talk negatively about your business, your reputation suffers. And if enough of them say negative things about your service, then good luck with finding or keeping customers in the future.

Employee Burnout and Poor Customer Service

When a company offers subpar customer service, customers are not the only ones affected; employees also suffer. Employees know instinctively when their company is not providing the best service possible, and they are often the ones who must suffer the brunt of customer anger and rage when things don’t go well.

Angry or unhappy customers can be really stressful to employees who just want to do their jobs (especially if they’re not trained in dealing with confrontation or negative situations.) Employees who are exposed to negative situations or poor customer service too often can become overwhelmed or get burned out. And if this happens, they may just decide to pack it in and quit or resign. So if holding on to key employees is important, don’t let angry or unhappy customers drive them away because of bad customer service.

Customer Service Pitfalls for Repair Service Businesses

Pitfalls That Lead to Poor Customer Service for Repair Service Businesses

When it comes to customer service, some things have a more negative impact than others. With that in mind, here is a list of some customer service pitfalls you definitely want to avoid:

Inaccessibility (No One’s Around)

If yours is an on-call or field service business, the telephone is central to getting jobs and customers. Therefore, if no one is around to answer calls as they come in, customers will just move on and find another service. And in the future, if someone asks that customer (the one who hung up) if they know a good plumber, electrician, landscaper, doctor (or whatever the case may be), you can be certain they won’t be recommending your business.

Busy Signals, Hold Times, and Voicemail

This is basically the same as not having someone available to answer calls, except it’s even more infuriating for most customers. Customers don’t like busy signals, they hate holding, and more often than they don’t wait for someone to return their calls. Don’t let anything delay a customer’s ability to contact you when they need to.

Poor Dispatcher-to-Technician Coordination

If the person who answers your service calls is not trained properly or doesn’t dispatch calls quickly and efficiently, this can cause all kinds of confusion in coordinating with on-calls or others who need correct information to get to a job site. Poor coordination and communication between a dispatcher and technician or repair person usually results in longer lead and response times, which will not make your customers happy at all. In fact, fewer things have more of a negative effect on your business and reputation than showing up to a job or service call late.

How to Turn Things Around

How to Turn Things Around

Okay, by now we hope you realize that providing poor customer service is like shooting yourself in the foot (figuratively speaking, of course.)

If your business hasn’t been employing the strategies discussed in this post, then chances are that you may have at least a few unhappy or angry former customers (and that’s not to mention the ones you may have lost because they couldn’t reach you or because of negative reputation issues.)

Even if your customer service hasn’t been as good as it should be, though, it’s probably not the end of the world or the end of your business. And as the saying goes, “it’s never too late to start over.” Of course, there are some limits to being able to start over. So, it’s important to get things back on track before too much damage is done.

If you make a commitment to provide better customer service right now, chances are good you can turn things around and begin to reap the rewards of creating exceptional customer experiences.

Improving customer service is not exactly rocket science, but it does take some thought and effort. To help you get started on the path to providing exceptional customer service, here’s a quick list of the three most important things you need to do:

Improve Poor Customer Service With Training

No matter who you get to answer your service calls, it’s mandatory that they put the customer’s experience above all else. This means providing stellar customer service and making the customer feel valued and important. However, this is not as easy as it might sound, though; providing great customer services requires training and know how.

Face it; you’re busy out on calls or in the office helping customers. So, you don’t have time to answer calls (at least most of the time.) Regardless, if you must have someone else answer your calls, ensure that they have the proper training and tools required to do the job. The more training your answering agents or customer service reps get, the more they will help your customers have wonderful experiences with your business.

Use the Right People

Not everyone is cut out to answer service calls or handle customer complaints and problems. Answering service calls, dispatching jobs, and making sure everything runs smoothly are all tasks that require the ability to communicate effectively and get things done quickly and efficiently.

If you can find someone to answer calls and run your dispatching service for you in house, that’s great. But finding those kinds of employees is easier said than done. And even if you can find them, they probably won’t come cheap (nor should they.)

If you need a skilled representative to answer your calls and dispatch your jobs (and you do), then consider outsourcing to a professional answering service. A professional answering service checks all the boxes for providing outstanding customer experiences without making too big of a dent in your bottom line.

Defend Your Brand

According to the website, Monitor Business Reviews, only 1 in 10 people will leave a positive review for your business. And more than 8 in 10 will post negative reviews if they feel like they didn’t receive great service.

The site also stresses the point that it generally takes 40 positive reviews to make up for just one bad one. Therefore, the time to start defending your brand and its reputation is now – not later. As mentioned above, committing to improving your customer service efforts is a start. But it may not be enough to turn things around completely.

By providing great customer service, the number of customers pleased with your business and its services will grow. As you gain more happy customers, don’t be afraid to ask them for positive reviews or testimonials. If need be, offer them a small discount on services or throw in small extras. Your customers will appreciate you even more if you do.

Great reviews from customers are great. But, DON’T try to bribe your customers to provide reviews or testimonials that aren’t true. Actions like this have a way of finding their way into the light. And if they do, your reputation will probably suffer even more.

Never underestimate the effect that great customer service agents can have on your company’s reputation. Just remember, your answering service or customer service team is not there just to take messages; they are the front line to providing your customers with the best experiences possible.


In most cases, negative customer experiences result from poor communication, lack of coordination with service teams or on-calls, and inaccessibility. If you partner with a professional answering service, you will no longer have to worry about these problems.

Insta Answer Can Help

When it comes to business, great customer service is king (especially if you have an on-call type of business.) At Insta Answer, we have helped service and on-call businesses, big and small, live up to this philosophy for over 50 years by providing answering service agents who are knowledgeable, well trained, and incredibly helpful.

If you think your customer service efforts are lacking, then they probably are. But don’t fret because we can help. When you partner with Insta Answer, we tailor agent training and services to fit perfectly with your business.

For many service industries, Insta Answer already has a large and highly trained talent pool ready to help your business restore its reputation or prevent it from becoming damaged in the first place.

If you would like to find out more about how Insta Answer can help your on-call service or repair business build a fantastic reputation through great customer service, please contact us for a no-cost and no-obligation consultation by clicking here.



Picture of Steve Samuels

Steve Samuels

A respected contact-service executive and thought-leader, Insta Answer CEO Steve Samuels has over 30 years experience in the industry. Steve posts his insights here on our blog weekly (and sometimes more.)

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