Your client experience is your single most important marketing influencer. The evidence is clear: If more than 70 per cent of business from most architectural, engineering and construction companies arises from repeat and referral business (see the poll published daily in this blog), then anything you do to increase your repeat and referral business volume will have disproportionate marketing value. And, to add to the mix, anything you do that costs little or nothing, but truly improves your client experience and genuine satisfaction, will result in the highest return on your marketing investment.
Unfortunately, there aren’t too many studies about what increases client experience/value within our industry. We know some of the basics: Keep your job site clean, and return calls/inquriies promptly. (For residential construction, especially, the behaviour, dress, language and personal hygene habits of your crew will also be very important.) But are there even more little things we can do that would truly go a long way to make our clients much happier and even passionate advocates?
Look at this example in Carol Yacono’s comment to Colin Shaw’s LinkedIn blog posting: It’s the Little Things That Count:
When it came time to replace my roof, complete tear off, etc., I called two of the most well-known companies in Rochester for estimates. A representative from the first company was scheduled to meet me at my home at 3:30 on afternoon, after I got home from work. At 3 PM, my daughter called to tell me that a guy was already there and looking at the roof. By the time I got home, he was gone and had left a written estimate in the screen door! No one from that company ever followed up in any form! As for the second company, one of the owners came out at the appointed time. He looked at everything. He then came into my home with samples of shingles, colors available, different qualities (15-yr, 30-yr, etc.). He explained the process and time table, as well as financing options. His estimate was a couple thousand dollars higher. … And he got my business! And everything was done as explained, flawlessly! So, yes, I agree. Price isn’t everything. I felt much more comfortable with a company that took the time to sit down, explain everything, and respect me as a potential customer.
Now someone like me would perhaps think a fast, reliable, estimate, without fuss or bother — and my need to be “there” to hear a sales pitch — might be good enough to grant the job, but we are all different — and the latter contractor still won the work, with the attention to detail and some good salesmanship. (Note that presumably the client completed some research to determine the short list of who to call first, and you would need your overall marketing to be in order to be on that list.)
Consider these quotes, as well, from Shaw’s blog (as they relate to the hospitality industry):
” When staying in a hotel they often put the shampoo by the sink. Why? I need it in the shower so hotels that put it where it should be always stand out to me!”
“I stay in hotels a lot and 100% agree that lighting is always an issue and drives me nuts”
” In a hotel, they turn down the toilet paper to let me know they have cleaned room. It’s something they do on purpose so that you know someone’s been in and therefore feel that your room is clean.”
“Free internet is great, but what about when it doesn’t work? You don’t think “oh, it’s free so never mind” you think that you’re getting a poor level of service.”
As you can see, it is the subconscious signals that drive a customer’s emotions which, in turn, drive the amount of money they are willing to spend. Happy and pleased customers, remember, spend more and return more often and become advocates for your organization.
Sheesh, lighting, where you put the shampoo, and whether the free Internet actually works are really that important . . . yes, and they are predictable and relatively easy-to-fix aspects.
Marketing point: Spend some time really thinking about your client experience. How can you remove irritating problems, and how can you make things just a bit more comfortable? How much does it really cost to put the shampoo at the bath (or in the case of a residential contractor), to deliver your estimate in a timely manner, in a format the client welcomes, with appropriate communication and follow-up?