When we think of customer service, we think of the words “please” and “thank you,” a kind face; we think of friendly window tellers and retail stores where people not only give you a receipt but also a smile. But really, customer service — true customer service — is so much more than that. In fact, we should change the term from “customer service” to “customer engagement.” And here’s why:

In 2014, I was handed the reins to all the marketing, advertising and employee engagement responsibilities at our family’s company, McWilliams & Son Heating and Air in Lufkin, Texas. Immediately I spent as much time as possible soaking up what I could from industry gurus, industry publications and asking a lot of questions.

One thing I quickly learned from the best of the best in the HVAC business is that simply setting your company apart from the crowd is no longer enough. You need to leave them speechless.

Elevating your company’s customer engagement experience can do that. And when done well, your customers will want to smother you with lipstick kisses (on the cheek!) and bake cookies for your technicians as they welcome them into their homes as an extended member of the family.

When it comes to customer engagement, personalization is key. Whether I am sending a celebratory note of congratulations or thanking a customer for their time and patience, I like to send a personalized thank you note with flowers from a local shop (this is an easy partnership for you to set up in your town that will blow your mind how well it pays off!). 

Personalized interaction builds trust. The better the trust between you and your customer, the more likely they will be a returning customer.

At McWilliams & Son, we like to set a yearly customer engagement theme. This year’s theme is “See the Big Picture.” Because when our team sees the importance of all the little details, the big picture is that much more clear.

Each and every company has something special about them that makes them unique. Use that to leave a lasting impression on your customer’s hearts and mind. Yes, I said “hearts.”

In today’s fast-paced world of social media and shortened attention spans, people are accustomed to companies being uncaring, too busy or just flat out apathetic. This is your opportunity to show them what a real customer experience is.

Crystal Williams

Crystal Williams, Marketing Director at McWilliams & Son Heating and Air. mcwilliamsandson.com.

Have you considered some extra things your team members could do to engage your customers or potential customers? Little things like opening the door and escorting customers out after they’ve been in the office. Or, maybe your service technicians pull the trash cans from the street back to the garage before knocking on the door. Your technician will be the talk of the town for this one, especially with the elderly! Or what about a salesman that takes time to change a light bulb he sees is out in the laundry room before climbing into the attic? Now, your comfort advisor has won your customer’s heart and trust!

On another note, is your team involved in the community? Try having a company work day at your local Habitat for Humanity or women’s shelter? Or what about helping to advertise a pet adoption day where your company covers the cost of the first 10 pets adopted?

This is our 45th year in business, and we updated our company’s logo to reflect that so our customers know that being in business this long means we are doing something right; mainly, that we can be trusted.

Going the extra mile, thinking outside the box, this is a proactive process — which is why I call it customer engagement over customer service. Elevating the way your HVAC company or shop does engages with your customers will make you a shining star in your market and your community. And when you are the brightest star, it will be easy for everyone to see you’re your work speaks for itself.

Crystal Williams, Marketing Director at McWilliams & Son Heating and Air. mcwilliamsandson.com.