Most people think writing service descriptions for their estimates is about explaining what a service does and why it is needed. But it's not. This is the biggest mistake people make when writing service descriptions.

Writing Great Service Item Descriptions

The key to writing a great service item description is to use your client's curiosity to open a story loop in their brain. Story loops are our brain's natural way of processing information. The most logical place to do this is with your service descriptions. For more information read StoryBrand by Don Miller.

Opening A Story Loop

To open a story loop in someone's brain, you simply need to begin telling a good story. The best stories start with a character (your customer), who has a problem (their piano isn't working), who meets a guide (you), who gives them a plan (your estimate & condition report), who warns them about various dangers and perils they will experience along their journey (your service descriptions), and ultimately helps them find what they are looking for (more music in their life).

Capturing Their Curiosity

When your clients open your estimate there is a natural curiosity and fear associated with every item you recommend. To help guide them through this process your service descriptions are strategically placed to catch your customer's attention and position you as their guide, but the real reason they exist is to warn your customers of the cost associated with inaction.

Writing a great service item description

To write a great service item description address these three things:

  • Identify the problem are you trying to solve.

  • Teach them something new.

  • Warn them of the risks of doing nothing.

This last part "Warning them of the risks of doing nothing" is so important. Your customer's brain will be asking "What happens if I do nothing?" and if you don't speak to this they will assume "Nothing bad will happen if I say 'No' to this recommendation".

What problem are you trying to solve?

To get started ask yourself this question: "What problem does this malfunctioning service item cause in my customer's life?"

Example: Saying "You can't play your favorite song..." is the problem caused by a broken part; or "You can't play your piano soft..." is the problem caused by poor regulation. Don't start out by telling your customers what 'this' thing is; start out by telling them about 'the problem they are going to solve by fixing it'.

Teach them something new

After you introduce the problem you need to establish yourself as an authority on the topic. You do this by teaching them something new and using simple language to explain why improving XYZ in their piano is important. You don't demonstrate your authority by talking about yourself, your education, or explaining how something works. You do this by simply saying "This is important because fixing it will _____________ ..." and then fill in the blank by tying 'why it is important' back to the problem you described in your opening.

Example: "You can't play your piano soft because all the internal parts are out of adjustment. Adjusting all these hidden parts is important because it is the only way to get your piano to play soft again."

Warn them of the risks of doing nothing

At this moment in time, your customer has a problem (their piano isn't working), they have met their guide (you), and they are considering your plan (your estimate & condition report)... but they have not yet decided to do anything about it. In other words, their future is in their hands and there is a risk they might make the wrong decision. It is up to you to tell them what will happen if they don't do anything. This is your job as the expert they have hired. So after you introduce the problem and establish your authority; you need to paint a picture of the risk they face if they choose to ignore this problem.

Example: "You can't play your piano soft ... pianos that can't play soft are no fun to play and prevent you from developing as a musician."

Their resolution to this problem is booking you to do the work. You have already provided them with the solution, they are simply educating themselves and trying to decide how important it is for them to follow your plan and avoid the risk you identified.

Don't over-exaggerate the risk

Be honest with your customers and don't over-exaggerate the risk. All you need to say is "If you don't do this your keys will not work and your piano will be harder to play". This is a true statement and to you, it probably feels like stating the obvious; but to your customer, they need to hear you say this to help them make a decision. The more you overdramatize the risk the less your client will listen.

Closing a Story Loop

For a piano service company, every story loop you open should naturally close when your customer clicks "Book Now" to buy your services. This is their happy ending, they found you, sacrificed the money to buy your services, and chose to invest in their piano so they can increase the musical potential available to them. You are their guide and your services are your plan to helping them achieve the ultimate thing they are looking for "more enjoyment from their piano".

Hire a professional editor who knows nothing about pianos

The last thing you want to do is hire a professional editor who knows nothing about pianos. They will help you speak more clearly so your customers can understand exactly what you are trying to say.

This is the exact process we followed with Gazelle's Service Library that you have access to. But if you find yourself needing to write your own service descriptions, this is the best way to create a better outcome.

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