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How to let a Stranger into your Home

New customers often over-look the importance of their own comfort and safety when looking for an electrician. I field questions about the obvious concerns for bottom-lines and disrupted schedules daily, but rarely do I get asked: “How do I know I can trust you?”

After working with Electrika Inc. for as long as I have, the absence of this line of questioning never occurred to me until I felt instantly uncomfortable in the presence of a repair serviceman that I just let into my home.

Let me stop you here: nothing overtly bad happened. This is not one of those stories that will scare you.

The repair serviceman was sent by my stove’s manufacturer to replace out a faulty digital console. He was not dangerous, but he was deeply unpleasant and ignored me. It is one thing to experience rude customer service in a public institution (a bored server, a cranky cashier, an apathetic telesales rep) but it feels remarkably different when it is happening in your own home.

Barely looking at me, he walked into my home without wiping off his boots and barked a few almost incomprehensible words at me, he shouted into his cell phone for an hour and ran in and out of my house (often leaving my front door open) without any notice whether he would be returning or just leaving my kitchen a shambles. Throughout the entire visit a smell of nicotine wafted throughout my home, prompting me to maintain distance and avoid asking any more questions than absolutely necessary.

I used to tease our Founder, John, for always looking like he just stepped out of the shower even after working in tiny insulation filled crawlspaces or renovations entombed with dust and debris. This is our example and standard at our company.

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John McElligott, Owner and Master Electrician at Electrika Inc.

Beyond the general appearance of that service repair man, if he had been able to make eye contact with me, introduce himself, ask me a few questions or tell me what he was doing every step of the way, I would have felt less like a stranger in my own home and more certain that I was receiving quality service.

I have not since experienced a problem with my stove, so the repair was sufficient. But would I call him again if I had the choice? Definitely not.

Here are a few of suggestions I can make when you are looking for home repair and service. When speaking with the service representative:

  • Ask if employee backgrounds are checked for criminal records
  • Ask if there is a dress code and regular customer service training
  • Ask for the name of the technician you can expect to arrive at your home
  • Ask for previous customer comments about that technician (i.e. we provide comment cards to all our customers and every technician of ours has been reviewed many times over – these are easily shareable with our clients)
  • if all else fails, ask for references — ask for more than one and call these customers! It’s an instant red flag if a company is unwilling to share this information.

Home service is a weirdly intimate encounter: you’re letting someone you don’t know into your own home and it demands a certain level of immediate trust. Beyond your budget and your time, make sure you take your own personal safety and comfort into consideration. Never underestimate the importance of feeling comfortable in your own home.

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