In the HVAC business, an unexpected snowstorm can leave customers without heat — and send your phone lines into a frenzy. To stay competitive, your business must be ready to handle an influx of calls at a moment’s notice.
Answering the phone during times of crisis or the occasional system breakdown directly impacts revenue. When you consider that 85% of the callers you miss won’t call back, relying on voicemail just won’t work.
So how can you manage an unpredictable call volume while serving your customers and bottom line?
Hiring a 24/7 answering service allows you to flex resources up or down when you need them and make sure every caller has the opportunity to turn into a customer.
HVAC answering services are external centers that manage call overflow for HVAC companies. They essentially act as a switchboard for incoming calls and handle basic tasks, such as:
Routing and rerouting phone calls
Answering general questions about your business (such as your hours of operation)
Creating and rescheduling appointments
Dispatching requests to on-site technicians
Hiring an answering service doesn’t mean you’ll capture every caller and revenue potential. By understanding the types of HVAC answering services, you can determine the best fit to lower your resource costs.
HVAC answering services typically fall into these categories:
Live: Live answering services usually employ their own staff to answer your phones. You set up call forwarding to their service, and their team acts as an additional arm of your company. Using live agents tends to be more expensive than an automated service. But these resources can also learn about your business and respond to more complicated questions down the line.
Automated: An automated answering service typically doesn’t offer any live-agent support. Examples of automated services include interactive voice response (IVR) providers, which let callers leave a message or walk through an automated prompt to get additional information. Unfortunately, automated messaging can come across as impersonal, and emergency messages take more time to escalate.
AI-Based: AI-based answering services don’t rely on a human to answer calls, making them a cheaper alternative. Unlike automated options, which spit out canned responses, AI answering services can learn about your clients and business, so customers get the personalization — and speedy service — of a live person.
Putting people on hold when they need help now is frustrating. You need an answering service that can help manage appointment scheduling and not simply forward these requests. Your answering service should be able to tap into your current schedule to check for availabilities and ensure you aren’t double-booked.
Move Conversations to SMS
78% of people would rather text with a business. Allowing callers to text you can save your staff from answering the phone and avoid spending on a live agent. AI-based text answering services like Numa give callers the option to text when you can’t answer the phone. Using your company’s natural language, the AI assistant automatically responds to common questions and assists with appointment scheduling.
Sometimes, conversations need to be escalated to internal staff members. Some HVAC answering services allow you to set up rules to route calls or text messages based on the contact owner, time of day or the topic at hand. Make sure to test your rules thoroughly to avoid sending callers on a wild chase for the right employee — or worse — to a competitor.
Disasters don’t work a 9-5 day, so your answering service shouldn’t, either. Invest in 24/7 services so customers don’t have to call a competitor when they reach you after hours.
Similar to conversation routing, setting up rules for technician dispatching enables an answering service agent to transfer calls or messages to technicians or directly input requests. As a result, available technicians can quickly be alerted and assist customers.
Support for Multiple Languages
Answering services can translate incoming calls or messages to your language and vice versa. Live answering services charge extra for this service, and some limit the languages offered. Automated and AI-based services tend to have access to more languages. Be sure to identify the languages that are most prevalent in your area and select a service that accommodates those.
Calculating the value of every call can help you determine and compare the ROI of an HVAC answering service.
Here are some cost assumptions to get you started:
Standard service call (or the average cost of a job): $900
Call-to-lead ratio (how many callers become leads): 60%
Lead-to-customer ratio (the number of phone leads who become customers): 33%
Based on an average service call of $900 and conversion rates above, each missed call could cost you at least $180. When you consider additional revenue opportunities, such as complete system replacements, new parts, etc., the value could be even higher.
Beyond the cost of a lost job, missed calls also create angry customers. And considering that more than 60% of unsatisfied customers will take their business elsewhere, you’re also closing the doors to future jobs as well.
HVAC answering services can help you recoup these costs by preventing missed calls and opportunities and improving customer service.
Hiring an HVAC answering service can introduce new costs for your business that are impossible to plan for.
Numa was designed to give service-based businesses the flexibility of an answering service at a fraction of the price.
The AI answering service directs callers to text messaging and assists with appointment booking, so no caller goes unanswered.
Here’s how it works:
When customers call your business, Numa gives them the option to receive a text message when you don’t answer the phone.
Once the call engages, Numa texts the customer and can answer questions about your business or send links to your online calendar so clients can book or cancel appointments.
With Numa, you can text-enable your business landline in minutes, gain visibility into text conversations and book more HVAC appointments with fewer resources.
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