Etiquette of Service Calls (including Time Slots)

There is a lot of etiquette involved with service calls. Again, it is the little things that make a big difference. I think it is best to outline them in order that they occur:

Before an Appointment is Made:

  • Have the ways to contact your support methods clearly published.
  • Menus should be simple and hold time should be reasonable.
  • Have customers do troubleshooting steps (if necessary), but make that experience pleasant and personal.
  • If available troubleshooting options have been exhausted, arrange a service call.
  • Have the same representative arrange the service call – do not transfer the customer.
  • Arrange a service call at the customer’s convenience, not the company’.
  • Keep time slots to a minimum (1 or 2 hours is probably okay, but anything above that is really pushing it). If possible, have exact times (we’ll be there at 2:00 PM).
  • Get directions.
  • Read back the service call information to the customer and confirm.
  • Ask them if they have any questions, comments, or concerns.
  • After the customer hangs up, go back to the computer system and verify the service call appointment was made correctly.

After an Appointment is Made:

  • Someone should verify service call appointments daily to ensure they have been entered correctly.
  • The customer should be called and asked to confirm the service call appoitment 24 hours prior. If the appointment was made within that 24 hour period, do not call.
  • At the beginning of the time slot or about 1 hour before the representative is expected to arrive at the customer’s home or office, have the representative call to confirm any directions and the time of the appointment as well as give the customer an update (running on time, early, etc.).

During the Appointment (steps for the representative):

  • If possible, park on the street (wide streets only) or in a nearby parking space. Do not annoy neighbors, but try to avoid the customer’s driveway (cars leak, etc.). If you need to park in the driveway, confirm that with the customer before the appointment (see the previous step above).
  • Wipe your feet thoroughly.
  • Use the doorbell. If there is no doorbell, knock three or four times.
  • When the customer answers the door, introduce yourself and greet the customer by name.
  • Wipe your feet again (this time it’s for show).
  • Ask the customer if they would prefer you put covers on your shoes before entering. (They have plastic things you can put around your shoes.)
  • Give any personalized gifts as necessary.
  • Do what you have to do to fix the problem.
  • Do not bring any food or beverages in the house. You can ask if the customer is okay with you brining water in the house, but if they say no, it’s no.
  • Avoid going in and out if possible.

After the Appointment:

  • Call 48 hours later and ask if the problem is fixed or if the customer had any problems. Give a basic customer satisfaction survey.
  • Call in another two weeks and ask if everything is okay.
  • Send a card or a letter in the mail another week (total three weeks later) thanking the customer for their time and patience and apologizing about any issues.

Throughout the Entire Process:

  • Everyone involved should be friendly.
  • The customer’s convenience and satisfaction should be the ultimate goal.
  • Hold times and amount of transfers required should be as little as possible.
  • The customer should be addressed by name.

If you do all of those things, you’ll have an amazing customer service experience for your service calls. The keys are to keep time slots as small as possible, be nice, and confirm everything.

On Monday, we’re going to have some unrelated content. Then, on Tuesday, there is going to be more about time slots.

6 Responses to “Etiquette of Service Calls (including Time Slots)”

  1. Ben Yoskovitz said:

    Jul 07, 06 at 5:02 pm

    This is quite the coincidence. Just today I posted about a lousy service call experience to my home, and I provided a link to your site (having read your stuff recently and speaking with you online) and here you are writing about how to do service calls right.

    If only more people would listen.

    In your previous post about service calls you mention bringing a gift. If that ever happens to me I’ll break down in tears of joy. Has that ever happened to you?!?! (Not the tears of joy, the gift giving with a service call.)

  2. Service Untitled said:

    Jul 07, 06 at 5:25 pm


    It’s never happened to me – I post of things that may only exist in customer service paradise (I don’t want to use the word utopia). I’ve had very few good experiences with service calls. Normally I’m quite happy with “acceptable.”

  3. Maria Palma said:

    Jul 09, 06 at 3:03 am

    This article should be printed out and sent to all the companies that do service calls….especially Time Warner Cable! But then, if every company followed your tips, then we wouldn’t have anything to write about 😉

  4. Meikah said:

    Jul 10, 06 at 5:51 am

    Great advice, Doug! My experience with service calls have not been pleasant. Usually, it takes them a day or two to call on you, and when they do come, they fix what needs to be fixed, and then you won’t hear from them again—until the next service call you request from them. 😀

  5. Ben Yoskovitz said:

    Jul 10, 06 at 10:24 pm

    If you ever write a book, call it \”Customer Service Paradise.\” Can I find that place on Google Maps? *smile*

  6. Service Untitled » Service? What’s that? said:

    Oct 02, 06 at 1:36 pm

    […] A lady named Paloma posted a comment in response to John’s post. She described her experience with Time Warner coming to install her cable TV and Internet. They gave her a 12 hour time slot (I talk about time slots here) on a weekday and she had to wait all day. No one ended up coming and the home office knew nothing. A few days later, someone did show up who probably wasn’t qualified and definitely should not have been doing the job. Apparently Time Warner Cable is pretty bad. Maria at CustomersAreAlways suggested I send my series to them in a comment she posted. Needless to say, Paloma’s (or Maria’s) experience wasn’t exactly the experience I suggested companies try to create in my series on service calls. Time Warner’s main office in NYC. Maybe they should put more customer service people in it? […]