When working in the skilled trades, an important skill to have is an ability to work well with people. Whether it’s a homeowner who needs their furnace serviced or a property manager of a commercial building who needs wiring installed for a new computer network, being able to build strong customer relationships can impact your success and longevity in the field.
Christopher M., a graduate of the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) program at All-State’s Essington, Pa. campus, demonstrated the right attitude when he told us, “I like making the customer happy because they call you because they are having a bad day and my job is to make it better.”
To develop and hone these essential soft skills, it helps to understand and focus on five important areas:
One of the most important skills anyone can develop is to be a good listener. To understand a customer’s needs, you need to focus on what they’re saying so that you truly hear what they are telling you or what they are asking instead of making assumptions. It helps to practice active listening, which involves the following steps:
- Give the customer your undivided attention by looking them in the eye.
- Demonstrate that you are listening by giving visible cues such as nodding or smiling.
- When the person is finished talking, repeat what you heard. For example, lead with, “It sounds like you’re saying this. Is this correct?
- Once you confirm that you’ve heard the person correctly, respond.
When speaking with customers, your goal should be to communicate in a clear and concise manner, taking your time. Try to avoid the use of industry jargon or terminology that a customer may not understand. Explain what you are going to do, then ask the customer if they have any questions before you get started. When the job is completed, review and explain everything that was done when you have finished the job.
- Problem Solving
Customers hire you to solve problems, and sometimes this involves identifying an alternate solution when your normal diagnostic methods don’t work, or you aren’t able to reach your supervisor for help. Problem solving requires an ability to analyze and research a situation to find alternative solutions. You may need to reach out to others for their input, and it can help to be flexible and creative in brainstorming new ideas.
Jobs in the skilled trades offer a variety of experiences as you travel from site to site. Since the workplace changes on a regular basis, being able to adapt to new environments and new people, both customers and colleagues, is an important skill. While you may have a standard way of working and communicating with customers, you should also understand that each situation is unique and could require a new approach. Be willing to adapt to any situation so that you can better serve your customers’ specific needs.
Finally, skilled trades workers need patience—both with customers and with projects. You may have to wait on coworkers who are handling a separate, but related, part of the project. Additionally, some customers may require patience, too. If you’re at their home or workplace to solve a problem, they may not be at their best. By practicing patience, you can make sure situations don’t escalate and ensure a positive experience for your customer.
If you have good people skills and like to work with your hands, a job in the skilled trades may be right fit for you. All-State Career can help you get started. Click here for more information or call us today at (855) 834-4580 and speak to one of our career counselors.