Contractors known for great service are serious about it. They are never satisfied where they are. They are always seeking ways to provide a higher level of service in every aspect of the customer experience.
DON’T MAKE CUSTOMERS BEG
Where far too many contractors fall short is not responding fast enough to deliver quotes on medium and smaller jobs. This is understandable, as the high dollar projects keep them in business. But small and medium jobs can lead to large contracts. By way of example, a condominium Board of Directors was seeking bids for roofing and pavement of their parking lots. They assigned a smart businesswoman who was on their Board to obtain three bids from roofing contractors and three from paving contractors—six total. It was during peak construction season.
After each contractor came to scope the projects, the Board member asked for a quote within a week, as the Board wanted the projects completed by the end of the summer. All promised to respond within a 1-week timeframe. Out of six contractors, two provided quotes within 2 days. The Board member had to call the other four to ask when she would receive the quote.
Since these quotes were requested during every contractor’s busy season, the delay was somewhat understandable, but a customer should never have to chase down anyone. Interestingly, the two contractors who responded on time also portrayed a higher level of professionalism. After emailing the quote, a woman in one contractor’s office called to inquire whether the Board member had any questions. This contractor’s employee was warm, friendly, and confident. She reassured the Board member that her company would do the project with the highest quality workmanship at a fair price. She provided references and thanked her for allowing their company to bid. Early that evening, the contractor called her from home thanking her for calling him, promised the bid quickly, and said they would like to do the job.
What none of the contractors knew when they were approached by the customer is this businesswoman invested a sum of money in a retail construction project that was going up in the area—a shopping center. Upon completion of the condominium projects, the quality of the finished project and service she received was superb. She referred both contractors to the developer.
SEVEN STEPS TO SERVICE EXCELLENCE
Below are seven steps you can take to help you to improve the level of service you provide, develop a reputation for service excellence, and obtain higher levels of customer loyalty.
- Gather your team and hold a meeting.
Inform your team that you are serious about customer service, and that to keep customers coming back, it will take the dedicated efforts of every single person in the company. Their commitment and involvement to this initiative is mandatory. Remind employees that they are all “in sales” regardless of job position.
- Identify moments of truth.
In his best-selling book, Moments of Truth, Jan Carlzon identified moments of truth as “every opportunity to make a difference when in contact with customers.” Go through the “touch points” of the service experience in your business (phone, website, front office, etc.).
- Put the “WOW” into the customer experience.
Keep in mind that little things can make a big difference. Hand customers a cool bottle of water. Bring them small and meaningful gifts when they least expect it, and say, “Thanks for your business.”
- Demonstrate your core values.
Examine your core values. (If you haven’t created a statement of your core values, and placed them on your website, and on your walls, you are behind the times.) Share with the team how each person should display the core values of honesty, professionalism, teamwork, excellence, accountability, respect, health, and safety in their day-to-day interactions with customers, as well as with each other.
- Uncover and eliminate service flaws.
Ask your team to help uncover and eliminate any service flaws that might exist. Look for ways to streamline the service process.
- Create “guiding principles.”
Continuously work with your entire team to establish guiding principles on how you will treat customers and each other. Put them in writing. Examples are below.• We will treat every customer with respect.
• We will make sure our equipment is clean and properly maintained.
• We will make every effort to answer the phone by the third ring.
Set performance standards.
Train employees are on how to act, speak, and respond to customer needs and requests. If you let your employees decide how to act, your customers may not always receive the highest level of service.
As a construction contractor, developing a reputation for superior customer service involves a great deal more. But if take these seven steps you can demonstrate that you are serious about service, and improve your ability to create and sustain a successful future. ■
About The Author:
Christine Corelli is a consultant and author of five business books, including the best-selling, Wake Up and Smell the Competition. She is highly experienced in construction industry. To learn more, visit www.christinespeaks.com, or call 847.581.9968.
Modern Contractor Solutions, March 2013
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