Sorrell’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning was a small, three-person operation with a thriving business in a mid-sized city in southern Missouri. To save money the company president, Richard Sorrell, contracted an answering service to handle all business calls, seven days a week, 24 hours per day.
Despite Sorrell HVAC’s modest size, its technicians were highly skilled and in great demand, especially during the summer air conditioning season when temperature and humidity levels in southern Missouri can soar into the dangerous range.
One scorching July day, with temperatures running in the mid-90s, the answering service representative on duty that day, Monica, took a call from a regular Sorrell’s HVAC customer named Dan Abbott. Dan had just received a panicked call from his 91-year-old dad, who explained that the air conditioner was not working and that temperatures inside were rising fast. It seems the fan was running but the air coming out of the registers was warm, and Dan’s dad was very concerned.
“My mom is 88 and has Alzheimer’s, and my dad doesn’t get around as well as he used to,” Dan explained. “Normally I’d pick them up and take them over to my place until the air conditioner is fixed, but I’m out of town right now on a business trip.”
With Sorrell’s technicians all out in the field, part of Monica’s job was to evaluate incoming calls and to only interrupt ongoing work if the caller had a true emergency—which Dan Abbott’s parents undoubtedly did.
After taking a bit more information from Dan, Monica put him on hold and called Derrick Brady, one of Sorrell’s technicians who was currently out on a service call in a neighborhood close to the street where the elder Mr. Abbott and his wife lived. Fortunately, Derrick was about to finish up his work at the other location, and after Monica patched him through to Dan he promised he’d be at his parents’ home in no more than 15 minutes.
Dan told Derrick about the fan running warm, and Derrick knew immediately that a refrigerant leak was likely the cause of the trouble. Topping up an air conditioner’s refrigerant was a relatively simple affair, and that would hold as a temporary repair until a Sorrell technician could check the system later to find the source of the leak.
While Derrick headed over to Mr. and Mrs. Abbott’s home, Monica took the initiative and phoned Dan’s dad to reassure him that help was on the way, and she stayed on the phone with him to soothe his fears until Derrick arrived.
After arriving at the house and introducing himself to Mr. Abbott, Derrick went outside to check the air conditioner’s outdoor unit, and a test of the system quickly verified that low refrigerant levels were the source of the trouble. After Derrick topped up the Abbott’s air conditioner with refrigerant it started blowing cold air again, much to the relief of everyone involved.
Derrick called Dan to let him know what was going on, and he encouraged Dan to phone Monica to schedule an appointment for a full inspection of his parents’ HVAC system.
Dan made the call right away, and after scheduling an appointment for the following week he thanked Monica profusely for her courtesy, speed and quickness to take action, and for the compassion and sensitivity she showed when speaking with her father on the phone.
At that point Dan had no idea he was speaking to someone employed by an answering service, and he was surprised to discover that fact when he stopped by Sorrell’s HVAC office to thank her personally after he got back into town.
When speaking to Dan that day Richard Sorrell was delighted to discover how well Monica had handled her duties, and he realized his decision to choose an answering service company to handle all his phone calls was one of the wisest investments he’d ever made.