Last week I reached out to a small general contractor in the construction industry who had asked me to follow-up with them. I decided to call rather than use email as I wanted to provide a personal touch. I was surprised when I called the business number (not a cell phone), I was met with a gruff “Hello!”; not a nice welcoming hello, no mention of the business name, but an angry hello – like I was interrupting. I asked for a specific person and was abruptly informed they weren’t there and wouldn’t be back until next week…dial tone. The person answering the phone had no idea why I was calling or if I might be an existing client, a potential new client, or even a future employee, and didn’t seem to care. If this had been my first impression of the company, it likely would have been my last encounter. I was a bit shocked and the experience reminded me of the importance of customer service, specifically customer service in the construction industry.
We all can recount numerous instances where we have received poor customer service somewhere, and most are quite willing to continue to share their story with anyone who will listen, long after the incident took place. According to Zendesk, a customer service software company, “82% of customers have ceased business with a company because of a poor customer experience”. Conversely, we have all had instances of great customer service; maybe you have taken the time to write an online review or send a note to the provider, but we are much less likely to rave about the awesome service we receive. Maybe we take good service for granted, or maybe it just doesn’t make for memorable or entertaining stories, but good customer service matters! Especially in the construction industry where business is built on reputation and relationships, every encounter with your company and its employees is a brand statement, good or bad.
Customer service begins before you have even landed a client or customer; the foundation for service is good communication. To a business owner or a leader in a company, what does an experience like I had last week say about your company, it’s culture, and even potentially the quality of work that you do? However, there are some basic principles that can serve companies within the construction industry well;
- Start with kindness and respect, just be nice.
- Listen! This is difficult, especially when you are busy, but really listen to people; what are they looking for, when do they need it, and can you provide it and meet or exceed their expectations?
- When discussing scope on a project or providing a quote or bid, be clear on what is included and what is not, follow-up in writing.
- Define quality service. Proactively solve problems before the project, during, and after, and do it with a positive attitude.
- Be aware of online reviews; seek customer feedback and respond.
These simple steps build credibility and trust with the customer. Two important attributes in a business that relies on referrals and returning customers for long-term success. In the competitive world of construction, great customer service will differentiate you from the competition, it is difficult to compete on price alone.
Consider the people who answer the phone or others that interface with customers at your company, are they creating a good service experience? Do your employees, from the office to the field, understand the expectations for customer service? Have you provided training for all your employees to ensure they represent your company well? Great customer service can invite new business, generate referrals and secure repeat clients which all translate to the bottom line.
If your company needs some training on customer service or communication, contact us at www.constructingopportunity.com, we can help!