August 16, 2010
“That shouldn’t take long.” Those are the last few sane words of every DIYer amidst a home renovation. My husband and I became homeowners of a 1920’s brick bungalow on June 15th at 4:00pm; we began hammering through plaster walls at approximately 6:00pm. With more excitement than two 12-year-old girls at a Justin Bieber concert, we began more remodeling projects than we could handle.
In order to alleviate some of our work load, we hired a few contractors: an electrician, an insulator and a wood flooring guy. Though my lights (eventually) turned on, my old oak floors were refinished beautifully, and my walls are insulated, each contractor’s final product was overshadowed by his poor customer service. Missed deadlines and nonexistent communication finally led me to the conclusion, “I’d rather do it myself, than deal with you!”
Though it’s obviously essential to have a quality product, according to businessweek.com, it’s even more important to give your clients a positive customer experience.
Meet your deadlines. My insulation company made an honest—careless—but honest mistake. They agreed to fix the issue that night. They stood me up three nights in a row. Each day, had I even gotten a call to say they weren’t coming, I may have been slightly less irate on day three.
Give yourself ample time to meet your deadlines. If you’re not good at meeting deadlines, try setting general timelines instead. Missing deadlines tells your customer that their business is not that important to you; not telling them that you’re going to miss the deadline communicates your lack of respect for their time and/or project. In this culture of over-scheduled Outlook calendars, the last word you want associated with your business is “unreliable.”
Open communication. A burning question about the future color of my wood floors went unanswered for weeks until the day of the refinishing came. When confronted, the contractor brazenly replied, “We don’t run this business by email.”
Don’t put your e-mail address in your contact information if you don’t check or reply to e-mails. (For the record, I left voicemails on his unanswered phone too.) Equally as important, make sure you are intentional about being in close contact with your customer. With over 4.6 billion people owning a cell phone in the world, using the excuse, “We didn’t know” or “We weren’t sure” just doesn’t cut it. A majority of the population is just 7 to 11 digits away. Don’t assume you know what your client wants, ask them.
The two points are inter-related; one doesn’t exist without the other. Abide by these guidelines in all of your relationships and people will keep using your services simply because it’s easy to do so.