When Steve Miller woke up at 1:40 AM, he immediately noticed the deep winter chill pervading the room. Without waking his wife, Mona or their 10-month old baby sleeping in his crib, Steve crept downstairs to check his smart thermostat, and was dismayed to find the temperature had dropped to 52°. He reset the thermostat to 80°, hoping that might provoke a response from the furnace, but still it refused to turn on.

Steve called his regular HVAC contractor, naively assuming they’d have someone on duty for nighttime emergencies. Unfortunately, his call was transferred to voice mail and he could leave a message, with a promise they’d get back to him when they opened at 8:30 AM.

With temperatures outside hovering around -10°, that simply wouldn’t do, not with a small child in the house. At random, Steve chose a company from a quick internet search, Knowles Heating and Air Conditioning. Their website promised 24-hour service, but he was skeptical. As he dialed the number he said a silent prayer, hoping against hope his call would be answered by a real, live person. Which it was. Knowles’ offices were long closed, but Steve’s call was redirected to the answering service Knowles uses to handle after hour emergencies. The woman Steve spoke with on the phone (Sarah) was friendly, efficient and businesslike. She took all his information, including his name, address phone number, and listened carefully as he explained how the North winds were howling outside and the cold air was cutting through the walls of his home like a hot knife through butter.

After promising to dispatch help quickly, Sarah hung up and called the Knowles repair technician, Del Chatwood. She gave him all the details, including the part about the high winds at Steve Miller’s home.

Since more than two feet of snow had fallen over the past few days, Del Chatwood suspected the strong North winds had caused snow to drift over the intake port that fed air to the high-efficiency furnace in Miller’s home. This was a common reason for furnace troubles at this time of year, and thankfully something that could be taken care of within a few minutes. After grabbing a shovel and tossing it into the back of his van, Del called Steve Miller to let him know he was on his way and would be there within 20 minutes.

After arriving he spoke to Miller briefly before going out to check the intake vent, and sure enough it was obstructed by a wall of crusty snow piled six feet high against the home’s back wall. Working rapidly in the blistering cold, Del shoveled away the snow completely, and then went back inside to see if that made the difference. Much to the delight of both men, after the thermostat was reset the furnace switched right on, and soon warm air was pouring out of every vent in the home. Before departing Del inspected the furnace briefly, and even though he found nothing wrong he advised Steve to arrange a more thorough check-up as soon as possible.

Steve called Knowles the very next day to make an appointment for a full maintenance inspection. During that conversation Steve asked to speak with the person in charge, and when he got Gordon Knowles on the phone he told him how pleased he was by their company’s rapid response and clear dedication to customer service. Steve expressed his disappointment with his old HVAC contractor, and promised to do exclusive business with Knowles from that point on.

For Gordon Knowles, this was further confirmation that his decision to hire an answering service right before the start of the winter heating season to handle overnight emergencies and overflow calls was a good one—no, not a good one, but a great one.

Sarah’s prompt, courteous, professional service had landed Knowles Heating and Air Conditioning a brand new client, and Gordon couldn’t help but wonder how many other potential clients he’d lost over the years because he hadn’t contracted an answering service earlier.

Centratel is an elite national telephone answering service located in Bend, Oregon. Centratel’s HVAC Answering Service assists hundreds of heating, ventilation and air conditioning businesses during and after-hours, throughout the United States and is, by a variety of statistics, the highest quality answering service available among the approximately 1,500 services nationwide.

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