As you may know, one of my many hats is that of a decor consultant. Currently, I am working on a flip house, as well as prepping for several new projects (it's been hectic!). The success of a renovation is measured by the details of the finished project (just ask Jeff Lewis, star of the television show, Flipping Out).
Over the last few years, I've dealt with dozens of trade people, from plumbers, tile workers, craftsmen, stone installers, to carpenters, landscapers, merchandisers, and more. My approach to each vendor is to treat them with respect, be on-time with payment, and strive toward a mutual dialogue to achieve the desired result. I've hired, fired, recommended, referred, and cultivated ongoing business relationships. I've learned a lot along the way as I've been the recipient of customer service that runs the gamut from excellent to decent to shockingly poor.
If you run or own a business of any kind, let these Do's & Don'ts for great customer service help you gain and maintain repeat clients:
1. Do what you say you are going to do
2. Don't try to amend the agreed upon transaction along the way
3. Do what you are hired to do as close in time as possible to the original agreement
4. Don't tell a customer who is on a deadline that you can't deliver because you've decided to go on vacation, pick up your kid from college, etc.; remember TIME IS $ FOR EVERYONE and the person with the $ is the boss!
5. Do ask questions about the project, order, selection, etc. (VERY IMPORTANT: Something may seem obvious, but clarifying could make the difference between right and wrong in the final result.)
6. Don't expect the customer to accept YOUR oversight/mistake in YOUR area of expertise. This is not a way to build loyalty. TIP: People (aka customers) realize things happen, so always try to offer a remedy or an option to alleviate an issue; it goes a loooong way to building a business relationship.
7. Do admit it if you make a mistake or run into a problem; being up front with a negative will garner loyalty
8. Don't put the onus of a problem on your employees; no one sounds good passing the buck onto another who has no power to change or amend the situation
9. Do return phone calls and emails immediately, or make a phone date to discuss issues, a new order, etc.; don't leave a customer hanging in limbo waiting on answers - deal with it sooner, rather than later - AND read the entire email
10. Do treat your customers with respect and appreciation; say THANK YOU when they refer someone, make a payment, use your service, tweet about you or your company, etc.
BONUS: Under-promise and over-deliver... Even small details go a long way to cultivating a business relationship!
Ultimately, it's about keeping your paying customers happy. You don't have to give away the store, but be mindful that you are treating people in the best possible way under the circumstance. A customer taken for granted is a customer lost to you forever. And remember, even the smallest of business owners are now subject to a national platform of ratings, reviews, comments... Word of mouth, good and bad, can travel as fast as the push of a button.
Did I forget anything? Have you had a great experience that business owners can learn from or implement? How about a really bad one? What is your customer service philosophy? Share with us!
DECOR TIP: One of the best ways to lend pop and value to any home is the use of natural stone. There is no alternative that looks quite as beautiful or makes such a statement, even in a small bathroom.
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