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Communicate and Live Up to Your Promises

Originally published: 07.01.16 by Pete Grasso

I know I don't have to preach to you about the importance of customer service — after all, you're true service professionals. Sometimes, though, it's a nice reminder to see things from the customer's perspective.

Keeping your customers happy is really quite easy. Like most consumers, it doesn't take much to make me happy and stay in my good graces. All I ask is three simple things:

  1. Keep me in the loop on what's going on.
  2. Return my phone calls.
  3. Do what you say you're going to do.

Common sense, you might even say. And yet, social media constantly reminds us there are service contractors who can't seem to get this right.

Case in point: When my wife and I purchased our first home several years ago, we quickly learned what it was like to deal with one of these, shall we say, not-so-great contractors.

As luck would have it, a week after we moved in, a hailstorm ripped through the area causing damage to many homes — my neighborhood included. Soon, roofing contractor signs started popping up in everyone's yard, so I decided to have my house looked at as well.

Turns out, I had damage too. My insurance company approved a new roof and siding.

After selecting a contractor to do the work, I was well on my way to a whole new look for my recently purchased home … or, so I thought. Within a week of signing the contract, roofing materials were delivered. The next day, the roof went on — and that's when the smooth sailing stopped.

My sales representative had assured me the siding would be delivered Monday, and it would start going up then too. When Monday came and no siding was delivered, I called him to see what happened. He told me it would be there on Tuesday or Wednesday. Again, Tuesday and Wednesday came and went, and no siding was delivered. I called my sales representative again, and left him a voicemail.

On Friday, with still no siding nor a call back from my sales representative, I called again. Voicemail. Again. I was beginning to get frustrated — all I wanted were answers.

The next week, I'd had enough. On Monday, I still had no siding and had not heard back from my sales representative. I had no idea what was going on. I called the office and left a message, explaining how I merely wanted to know what was going on with my house and let them know I'd left messages for my sales representative, who wasn't returning my calls.

I received a call back from the production manager, Chris. He apologized on behalf of the sales rep and told me my siding was scheduled to be delivered this week. On Friday, the siding was finally delivered … but it was placed directly in front of my garage door. When I arrived home and discovered I could not get my car in the garage, I called Chris. He said he'd have someone out that evening to move it further down in the driveway so that I could get in the garage.

He was half correct. Someone did come to move it, but they put it on my grass instead of moving it down the driveway. I let it go, because I was told they were starting work on Monday and figured it wouldn't kill the grass completely if left there for only two days.

As you can guess, when I arrived home from work Monday, the siding was still sitting on my lawn where they left it and no one had been by to do any work. This time, Chris promised me the work was going to start the next day, but he sent someone out to move the materials off my grass anyway.

Work did start the next day, and the crew doing the siding were fantastic. They kept me in the loop on everything they were doing and when they would be working and when they would be done. They finished the siding and it looked great. Unfortunately, they didn't have the correct hardware to re-attach my shutters. I figured they would probably just come back the next day and put them up — no such luck.

Another month passed before someone showed up to install new gutters. And, another month before I could get someone to come back and fix the shoddy job they did hanging them the first time.

I might seem like a difficult customer, but I'm really not. I simply want to be kept informed. I understood they were busy — the storm hit a lot of houses and there were many claims in the area. If they'd just been up front with me about when stuff was going to get done, instead of constantly saying, "… should be next week …" knowing it's not going to be next week, I'd have been fine with that.

I learned a valuable lesson from this experience. Like most all of your customers, I do quite a bit of homework before selecting a contractor to do any work on my house. Putting service at the forefront of your business strategy and getting referrals from customers who are satisfied with the work you've performed can go a long way toward building your bottom line.

I can't even imagine how much money this contractor lost out on due to all the call-backs they had to endure from not doing things right the first time.


Pete Grasso is the editor of HVACR Business magazine and the Ahead of the Curve enewsletter, as well as web content editor for hvacrbusiness.com and author of Keeping it Simple.


About Pete Grasso

Pete is the editor of HVACR Business magazine. He has spent his career working in and with trade media, both as a public relations practitioner and as an editor. He gained a great deal of expertise in the B2B arena, within large and medium sized advertising agencies. Be sure to follow Pete on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn!


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