I’ve frequently ranted that any contractor who asserts in marketing materials: “We deliver excellent customer service” receives an instant Marketing “F”. I mean, what business do we have to make that claim — the only people with the right (marketing-wise) would be your customers — expressed through testimonials, word-of-mouth and referrals.
Yet, truly delivering excellent customer service should be a key priority for any AEC business that wants to thrive, if you remember that the most important source of new business, regardless of how much you spend on marketing, will always (if you have a real business) be repeat and referral clients. Therefore, you should appreciate that you may more wisely spend $100,000 on systems to truly improve your client service processes than on a paid advertising campaign. (Gulp, we sell advertising for a living — did I write that?)
I discovered some contractor-centric customer service ideas in this Customer Think posting.
Every client and project is unique, so customer care solutions that work for one job may not work for others. Your customer care team must be flexible and in constant communication with the rest of the team.
According to James Farrell of clixifix, “Your customer care department should not feel as if they are on an island detached from the rest of the team.” Your business should regularly review and adjust its policies.
Being rigid with customer service protocols is rarely a good idea.
2. Recognize customer value
Catering to your customers is key, and the value of doing it right needs to be recognized. If you don’t provide the best service possible, another company may take your place.
When clients call, respond. Automated systems are fine, but most customers prefer to talk to real people. Details like this are important to consider. How long does it take you to respond to inquiries?
It’s important for a contracting company to remember that construction has its own language. Learn how to translate the process to laymen. Detailed explanations, timelines, and budgets should help your customers.
3. Stay one step ahead
Being able to anticipate problems before they occur is ideal, but not always possible. However, addressing problems once they surface and before customers complain is entirely within your power.
Problems will pop up, and ignoring them or smoothing over the issue can appear phony. Being up front and honest with customers is the best way to satisfy them.
Tell them you are aware of the problem and explain what you’re doing to rectify it. The key is to respond before the customer even knows something’s not right.
4. Stay in touch
It’s a good idea to ask customers how they’re doing. Solicit reviews and provide feedback on your website to promote more business.
The more potential clients see happy customers, the more they’re apt to be willing to give you a chance. Staying in touch regularly through email is a great way to maintain the relationships your business has already established.
The key is to figure out a way not to be forgotten once the job is done. Do that, and it will undoubtedly lead to referrals and repeat business.
The best customer service is simply to display a positive and genuine attitude across the board. Making the entire process user-friendly and transparent can go a long way.
Go the extra mile to make the client happy; he or she will come back, and maybe even send some friends.
How have you implemented/improved your customer service experience? I welcome your observations by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or as a comment below. Your thoughts may influence future Construction Marketing Ideas blog postings and publicity.