Clearly, some basic things need to be right: Returning calls, keeping job sites clean and fulfilling your core commitments. (These may seem to be obvious, but many contractors and suppliers fail to get even the basics correct.) However, how can you go beyond the superficial and obvious to reach a higher level, one that is memorable in a positive way (and which ensures no memorable negative experiences occur)?
I could resort to a cliche: “Everything counts” and be 100 per cent correct. However, how can you actually implement meaningful changes when virtually everything that you change could be for better, or worse.
The simplest solution, I think, is to look for irritants and see how they can be resolved. One example from our own business which I reported recently is the problem with our phone system and the “accounts receivable” desk. The special phone line would ring at a desk unoccupied most of the week, leaving the caller to voice mail. This hardly built good will — especially since the line is the one used by our part-time employee whose task is to call and collect funds from overdue accounts.
Now, in some cases the “overdue” invoice is a clerical error on our part; in others it is because of a mistake we made. In still others, the client has a good reason for delaying payment — and in other cases, the advertiser is ready to pay. So, the phone rings, and voice mail answers.
Bad service, eh. A terrible experience. And not a good way for us to manage our cash flow.
Instead of following the simplest solution, routing the phone line to the our in house administrative employee’s desk, we offered a $5.00 “answer fee” for any employee who picks up the phone and works with the person at the other end to resolve the call. In many cases, our administrative staffer quickly gets out of her desk and answers the other phone — it takes a few steps but obviously the financial incentive makes the effort worthwhile.
Our business has many other gaps, alas. We still do not communicate as well as we can to our clients, without intrusiveness and with respect. But I appreciate that we cannot offer “excellent customer service” without truly delivering on our commitments. Can you say the same for your own business or practice?