phone calls

Common Customer Calls

When you run your own business, maintaining a good relationship with your client base is very important. You want your customers to feel comfortable calling you when a problem arises. Sometimes, though, it feels like the same problems are happening over and over, and you’re constantly fielding the same phone calls, which can get old. What problems do your customers call about most often?

Why We’re Asking

Knowing what problems arise most frequently and how to fix them can make life easier. It puts a level of predictability into what can be a very unpredictable industry. Plus, sometimes clients call about problems that don’t require a professional fix. If you can head them off at the pass, it saves everybody time and effort in the long run. It’s also nice to commiserate about annoying things like repeat phone calls once in a while.

So tell us, experts:

What problems do you get called about the most?

Do you ever get calls about problems that aren’t within your expertise?

What problems do you wish customers would stop calling you about?

What things do you wish you’d get calls for more often?

Manning the phones might not be the most glamorous part of your job, but it’s necessary to keep the business afloat. So tell us about those calls in the comments below!

Experts, post your answers in the comment field below!



  • Grand View Builders 07/25/13

    Many of the phone calls we receive at Grand View Builders come from our homeowners (“clients”) we work with to build their custom homes. Our homeowners often become overwhelmed with all of the possibilities for the design of their own home and they will ask us, as the experts, to make these decisions for them. This can be difficult at times because each homeowner is different, with different styles, likes and dislikes, and what works for one homeowner will not always work for another. We want everyone to feel that their custom homes truly reflect their individual styles and we prefer to help guide the decision making by providing suggestions and information, rather than making the decisions for them. This can be hard to accomplish over a single phone call so we invite our homeowners to our design center, where, with the help of a design consultant, they can explore all of the available possibilities to enhance their home. The experience allows the design consultant the opportunity to really get to know and understand the client’s style, which makes them better equipped to offer advice than a quick conversation over the phone!

  • Tammy 07/24/13

    Similar to Greg, we receive calls where the client is comparison shopping. It may be mildly annoying, but it’s pretty standard. The calls we most love to receive are those from existing customers. It’s fantastic when someone has been so happy with their plumbing services that they now come to us for expert advice.

  • Greg Chick 07/24/13

    Absolutely, I get a whole category list of calls I do not directly make money on or refer out or are just “consumerism “,

    First group; To “clear a main drain” or similar. Reason it is a “false” request call is because that is not what they need. some areas in my town are low in elevation of a valley and when rains are long and heavy, the ground saturates and floods the septic tanks and the occupant thinks the drain is blocked. I can tell when this happens because all of a during a long rain and most are coming from a couple of streets out by the airport. Nothing anyone can do…details exist, but I will spare the comment here.

    Second group; “I am calling for a free estimate”, or calling several plumbers…. This is not the best for anyone, because it lowers the bar on profit and rendered service. For example, only removes chief complaint for short time, fixes nothing. Example shaving your face is short lived glamor, it grows back, as do roots in broken mainline or line having grease separating causing blockages or many other possible issues that are ignored by the cheapest bidder on phone. All that is done is the grease ball is removed or the latest ball of roots are cut out but nothing fixed. Many “plumbers say this is constant promised income and good for business, I think not.

    The third group of this weeks poll; What do I wish they would call requesting? ” We have a repeating plumbing problem and we would like to know why, and actually fix the problem because we are tired of this cycle of fix & fail. This is costing too much, we want real results.” Or, “What is the optimum thing we can do with this plumbing issue?” As opposed to “We are selling and want to just make it work for now” Or, “let the next guy deal with it, I am on a budget”, “We plan to sell in a yr. or two, so we do not want to pay for all that, just minimum.” And even worse, “We just bought this place and are broke and shopping lowest price” My point is, if done right, plumbing is not problematic and in the long run, people spend more and get less when using inferior products and services.

    Too many customers are in a hurry and do not want to understand the problem, and think the symptom is the problem. Often they cannot pronounce the problem or symptom and do not understand anything about it, but know exactly how much is a “fair price”. I think consumers are lost and need to hire a professional but not by, and fix problems, not symptoms. This is done by calling and asking for just that, not what most calls ask for.

  • Evan @ Blueprint Electric 07/23/13

    With extreme weather on the rise, the chances of experiencing extended power outages are also increasing. Having a reliable power backup solution is on the mind of many customers. We get a lot of questions about this topic. Since it is a considerable investment, we spend a good amount of time reviewing their options: whole house standby or portable generator, what type of a fuel, how to maintain it, which generator to get, etc. Many towns have specific permit requirements as well. We present options based on the customer’s needs and their budget to make sure they can make the best choice and feel good about the investment they made.

  • Northeastern Exterminating 07/23/13

    Having a pest control business in NYC can be very hectic at times. Because of the dense population in NYC the pests can easily travel from one home to another, especially in apartment buildings. We answer calls all day asking us a variety of odd questions. We try to treat everyone with dignity, patience, and respect and answer their questions as honestly as possible.

    I think that because we are business owners, and professionals we must take on our call of duty and help the customers. Whether the questions irritate us or not, they are reaching out for help. I always try to answer my customers questions. If i dont know, or know someone who does i try to steer the customer into that direction. Its too easy to become annoyed. As a business owner i enjoy and sometimes welcome problems, so when a customer calls me with a dilemma i try to give any helpful advice.

    I think its easy for well run businesses to receive compliments after the service was performed. Constructive criticisms are something i always welcome but rarely receive, so i wish we would get more phone calls about things the customer thinks we can do differently. No one is perfect, and mistakes are opportunity for lessons and growth!

  • Mark Puglisi 07/23/13

    Certainly, calls are opportunities even if you only provide advice or an ear. In my business we get calls for all kinds of pest issues, but many times people believe they have a pest issue, especially when one thinks something bit them or another member of the family. We call these mystery pest or in our industry we call them “noseeums” My blog is loaded with info about this issue. I went as far as putting together a 3 page list of all the things suspected bug bites can be. We also deal with the occasional issue of delusions of parasitosis, which is not in our field.

    Many pest related issues can be handled by the homeowner and without the need of a professional. Sanitation, caulking, door strips, screens, removal of debris etc. can eliminate pest intrusions and infestations. Having a link on our site for folks to “Ask The Expert” gives them a quick resource for asking questions, without a fear of commitment.

    Phones are more than a way to speak to another person. With smartphones, which are mini computers, the resources are almost endless when they use features such as photo and video transfer on the fly (no pun intended)helps get answers almost instantly. I recall in my day having to send out bug samples for identification, which could take weeks.

    We do have dozens of the same calls everyday, and clients feel better that they are not alone with others facing the same challenges. Unfortunately, some companies see phones as an interruption, we see it as an opportunity and a tool to fix those challenges.

    • eLocal of eLocal.com Post Author07/23/13

      Hey Mark,

      Thanks for commenting! We would love to get the link for this 3 page list of suspected bug bites and what they might be!

      -Melissa
      (Community Manager)

  • DeAnna Radaj 07/23/13

    Hi All-
    The majority of my calls are for WHOLE HOUSE design (space planning, color, furniture/accessory purchase & blue print analysis) & remodel consultation, as well as project manager to oversee the job. While all of this is in my area of expertise, I don’t focus/choose to be project manager &/or participate in the furniture/accessory purchasing aspect. I’d rather work w/a client’s personal choice as I get inspiration from what they currently have. If replacement/additional pieces are required, I can help, but actually doing the ordering/purchasing is something I’ve stepped away from.

    The only calls I get that I’m not entirely comfortable taking & are out of my expertise are bathroom/kitchen remodeling as I’m not certified. While I can help w/color, furniture & accessory choice (as well as the organization & storage solutions), remodeling these rooms is out of my expertise & comfort level.

    I’ve decided to focus on designing/remodeling the rooms that I enjoy & are most passionate about, which is the bedroom & office. Afterall, we spend about 2/3 of our lives in these spaces…I feel they deserve a lot of our attention & seem to get pushed back to the end of the design process (unless it’s a nursery!).

    • eLocal of eLocal.com Post Author07/23/13

      Hey Deanna,

      Thanks for your feedback! Do you generally refer the homeowners that are interested in bathroom/kitchen remodeling to a business that could help them in your area?

      -Melissa
      (Community Manager)

  • Kahshanna Evans 07/22/13

    I’d say in this day and age any call is a good call–it’s a sign clients have come to trust you and respect your opinion. Problems are sometimes real and other times perceived. By offering too much of a sympathetic ear it may nurture bad habits and encourage clients to complain rather than fix the problem at its root or focus on a solution (preferably one outside of the box). Even with unsolicited phone demands I would say the top word of the year has been ‘collaboration’, I refer people who are experts in areas that I am unable to help my clients with.

    While I do create strategy and build programs to help achieve social goals for my clients I keep a good relationship with managing expectations. Sometimes it is not a matter of not being able to do a task as much as it is a matter of budgeting in that new element and team and then designing that into the overall original yearly goals. Even with a new plan, it’s best to stick to the original map. I don’t mind inviting my clients to revisit their budget and reviewing a larger plan to benefit their new vision when the timing is appropriate. It is important to show them what they are asking about and what they have committed to as far as budget is concerned. My business has grown by word of mouth but I am an email enthusiast. This helps both myself and the clients trace our thoughts, suggestions and remember who’s court the ball is in.

    Among the least helpful requests clients reach out to me about in general is wanting the moon and the stars while they are in budget denial. I give them a few pointers, solutions I believe will help for their current budget including collaborative partnerships and then I have to trust they’ll figure it out.

    • eLocal of eLocal.com Post Author07/23/13

      Hey Kahshanna,

      We love hearing that collaborating with your clients is an integral part in meeting their needs, while maintaining your sanity!

      -Melissa
      (Community Manager)

Comments are closed.