Providing stellar customer service as an HVAC installer is a delicate task, requiring the contractor to reconcile customer expectations with system constraints. All this needs to be done while educating customers as well. This month’s contractor spotlight is focused on Boucher Energy, one of our participating contractors who has been integral to the residential decarbonization effort in Massachusetts. We got the opportunity to speak with Joel Boucher regarding their company’s approach to customer relations.

According to Joel, the first conversation with the customer is one of the most important steps, as it sets the tone for the rest of the installation process. The goal of this conversation is for customers to express their expectations for their desired replacement systems and for the contractor to be able to provide feedback on the steps required to achieve that result. It also allows the contractor to get a better sense of the needs of the home and its occupants. However, varying levels of information among customers makes it so that each discussion requires a tailored approach. For customers with no prior knowledge of HVAC systems, educating them takes precedence over getting them the right proposal. Joel recounted an anecdote that involved a customer who had been talked out of heat pumps by a prior contractor, only for him to change his mind when he sat down with Joel and was able to understand the proposal better. This exemplifies the importance of educating the customer in the HVAC install process and Joel hopes that other contractors place a greater emphasis on this moving forward to improve the customer experience and instill more faith into the program.

Alternatively, Joel mentions that while customers with prior knowledge are easier to communicate with, interactions with them also require some nuance. More recently, he has been dealing with customers who have been exposed to misinformation surrounding heat pumps in a bid to conduct their own research. In some cases, correcting these misconceptions can prove to be more challenging than educating a customer from scratch. Other times, homeowners are so convinced about wanting a particular system that they are unable to see the implementation challenges associated with it. Joel provided an example of a customer who had their heart set on a ducted heat pump system, only to discover that it would require stripping a basement that they had already spent a considerable amount of money to finish. In these cases, it requires a patient explanation from the contractor as to why the customer’s imagined solution is not viable.

Ultimately, one of the most important attributes for contractors is to possess the flexibility to deal with all types of customers. Being able to accurately assess the client’s level of knowledge, desire to be involved and expectations greatly enhances the experience for customers. From an industry perspective, contractors should strive for greater transparency, as this will help streamline the installation process and lead to a better overall customer experience.