Listen to the Customer

By Michele Moser, Sapphire Pools of Florida, Inc. / michelemoser33@gmail.com

In the pool business, to satisfy customers there are many things to remember each day. Depending on how many pools you service, and how many problems they present, it can be an ongoing task to remember to check up after adjustments and treatments. Sometimes being so busy makes it hard to stop and listen to what our customers are saying. We are so busy, it is easy to overlook and neglect the specific things customers may be asking for.

When I was taking college courses, I had to endure a speech class. One of the components was titled “Listening.” The assignment was to take ten minutes each day to sit still and listen. Write down everything you hear. It was amazing how many different things I could hear all at once when I would eliminate all of the distractions around me and just listen. When I would review the things I wrote down, I realized that my brain normally filters out things I might not find meaningful. It focuses on things I find important. Are the customer’s needs important? Yes, they are the most important. However, they can sometimes become meaningless due to the distractions around us that supersede our conversations.

Sometimes customers tell us what they want and we have to listen closely. I remember so many times I have been given a message to call a customer back. The message states briefly what they were calling about. When I call the customer back and reference the brief description I’ve been given, they say, “That is not at all what I was calling about.” They explain what they are really wanting to do with their pool, and it makes me wonder why there is such disparity between what the person who answered the phone call heard and the words that the customer used to explain their need.

It is also understandable that many customers may not articulate their needs very well. This can also lead to frustration.

When we miss the point of a conversation, we miss the opportunity to provide a solution or helpful advice which may instill confidence and credibility in our business. In the past, customers have told me they have asked other professionals for specific parts and equipment to be installed for their pool and the company could not accomplish getting the job done. They would ask, “Don’t you want to sell pool equipment to me, you’re a pool company?” When we listened to what they wanted and installed it as soon as possible the results were positive.

We have had customers call to set up pool maintenance services and say, “For years my pool will not heat warm enough for me to swim.” If the person who took the phone call only schedules the customer on a route for pool maintenance and doesn’t document the customer’s continued conversation, it is likely the technician will walk past the 14-year-old pool heater once each week and never realize how satisfied the customer could be to know the heater is too old to heat the pool and it can easily be replaced.

We have had customers call in to set up pool maintenance and mention they fill the pool with a hose for one hour at a time three times per week. If that part of the conversation is not passed on, the pool technician may not know how much water is diluting the chemical balance and the customer may not know the pool could possibly be leaking. Customers may not know they could have an autofill system installed, especially if they have not owned a pool before. Listening to what the customer is saying could lead to increased sales for new equipment installation.

We had one customer call to set up pool maintenance and mentioned they lost their spouse 10 months earlier. They mentioned only using the pool a handful of times over the 23 years they lived in their home. The pool developed sharp step cap tiles as the grout aged and wore away, and the finish became rough. When we recommended having the pool resurfaced and new tiles installed they hired a referral we gave for a contractor who is an FSPA member. The pool was resurfaced and this customer now swims for an hour and a half at a time doing exercise and enjoying the fresh air while listening to music. When we first took the phone call it could have been easy to filter out the parts of the conversation which were important to know, but now the pool became more comfortable to swim in and promote great health for our customers.

Put as much time as possible into listening to your customers and hopefully, you will have better relationships and see the difference in your bottom line!