Excelling in Customer Service
Five Ways to Establish Excellent Customer Service
Let’s face it: You can invest in the greatest tools and equipment available and still fail as a business if you don’t excel at customer service. In the end, customers’ perceptions of you and the work you do are the only things that truly matter because they’re what generate repeat business and those invaluable word-of-mouth referrals. With that in mind, here are some simple yet effective things you can do to ensure good online reviews and brisk repeat business.
Return Those Phone Calls
The all-new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van makes it easier than ever to stay in touch with customers by phone. The Mercedes PRO connect platform includes cellphone-integration technology that allows for hands-free calling, voice activation and wireless phone charging. The bottom line: You’re more likely to be available when customers try to reach you.
Answering phone calls falls under the broader category of doing all the little things that can set you apart from competitors. It’s the little things that can make the biggest impressions. More specifically, get to jobs at the time you said you’d be there. If you’re running late, let customers know. Tidy up after yourself and even leave a job site cleaner than you when you arrived. Don’t wear dirty work boots inside homes. Stow an extra clean shirt in your truck, just in case. And so on. In short, treat customers how you’d like to be treated. It’s not rocket science.
Get In and Get Out
Few things irk customers more than contractors who disrupt households for longer than necessary. Maybe a plumber doesn’t have the required parts for a repair and has to make a time-wasting trip to and from a supply house. Or a carpenter suddenly needs a table saw that he or she didn’t bring along because of on-board space constraints.
These aren’t good scenarios for excelling at customer service. But the all-new Sprinter helps you avoid issues like this, which strongly differentiates you from your competitors. These spacious warehouses/workshops on wheels offer contractors 512.1 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, a spacious maximum standing height of 79.1 inches and a maximum payload capacity of 6,735 pounds.
By providing ample space for carrying everything from hand and power tools to materials and repair parts – even water heaters – The all-new Sprinter helps you ramp up productivity and profitability. You don’t need to be a math major to understand the simple equation: More time spent on the job and not on the road leads to more satisfied customers. Sure, your customers may like you, but the bottom line is they still want you to leave as quickly as you can – no offense intended.
Invest in Good Equipment
This goes part and parcel with the previous tip. It’s difficult to provide a high level of customer service when your tools and equipment routinely break down. This is true whether you’re a finish carpenter working as a sub for a general contractor or a plumber on a residential service call. And you know from experience that on a home-building project, there are few things worse than equipment breakdowns that put other contractors on hold because they can’t work until you finish your piece of the puzzle.
Service-vehicle breakdowns are no better, which makes the all-new Sprinter an attractive investment. The connectivity solution from Mercedes-Benz Vans, for example, minimizes unexpected downtime for repairs by ensuring you never miss upcoming scheduled maintenance appointments and making vehicle data transparent and easily accessible. That translates into more efficient and effective fleet management and operational planning.
So think carefully when you buy equipment. Sure, quality tools cost more. But in the long run, they’ll pay off with quicker job-turnaround times, which will allow you to do more work per week. Per Month. And per year. And that puts more cash in your pocket and boosts your reputation for great customer service. In the end, it’s your choice: Would you rather build a reputation for having the latest-and-greatest in time-saving equipment or for holding up progress on a job site?
Teach Your Customers
Your menu of customer-service efforts should always include a side order of education. Always take time to explain what you’re doing and why. This builds trust and a level of comfort – both of which are critical to building the kind of relationships that generate repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals. Along the way, you should give customers tips and advice that will save them the cost of expensive repairs down the road. This helps them see that you have their best interests – not profits – in mind.
You also should manage customers’ expectations about projects, especially in terms of how long it’ll take to finish, the expected costs and how much household mess and disruption it’ll create. Communication is king! Don’t over-promise and under-deliver.
Speaking of which, an oft-overlooked element of customer service is making it easy for clients to communicate with you the next time they require your services. So use refrigerator magnets, pens and other leave-behind marketing items to keep your company’s name top of mind.
Own Up to Mistakes
No one is perfect, and inevitably a project or job will go off the rails. In such cases, the most important thing is to be honest with customers and take accountability for what happened – no passing the buck. And do it quickly. Moreover, don’t do it by text or email; communicate face-to-face or, at a minimum, by phone. Take time to explain what went wrong and why. And just as importantly, explain what you’re going to do to make it right – and the steps you’ll take to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
If customers are really angry, use the CARP system, which stands for control (stay calm, don’t get defensive or emotional), acknowledge (be empathetic and truly listen to the customer’s concern), refocus (tactfully try to steer the conversation back to the problem) and problem solve (this one speaks for itself).
Similarly, it’s also important to somehow measure if customers are satisfied with your work. You can do this through a short email or text survey or a quick follow-up phone call. Even if customers don’t respond, you’re at least sending them a message that their satisfaction matters.