Customer Service: Should Contractors Do More?
Poor Customer Service on Customer Concerns Can Kill Your Business
“A Brevard County family is trapped in a home they can’t sell, and blame the company that replaced their roof.” That’s the opening line from a local news report and it’s going to take a lot for the contractor to come out clean on the other side. The title of the article tell readers that the news station is investigating the contractor. Is poor customer service to blame or are the customers just expecting too much?
Headlines like these are just not good business. You hear a sad story from a family. Really, I mean that. No one wants to be in a home that they can’t sell when they were hoping to be able to move into something much nicer or maybe to a location they really love. It’s not something made up or embellished. This is a family that is heartbroken and upset.
Then you throw in the word “investigation”. It doesn’t matter if the investigator is the local news station or a local high school kid with a chip on his shoulder. Most people hear that term and in their mind, it’s a criminal investigation. Guess who the bad guy always is – the heartless business on the other side.
Here’s the thing: the contractor in this case might not have actually been wrong. According to the what the investigator cited, the contractor appears to have acted under generally accepted practices. The problem seems to be that the contractor before him did some work that is no longer (or never was) up to code. By following the previous contractor’s staple lines, roofers missed the trusses, leaving the decking improperly secured to them.
The consequence? The contractor is subject to a civil hearing in which any new permit applications by his company will potentially be rejected. Plus all of the bad (and very public) press that he is getting online and on TV. So where did this go so wrong ad how do you avoid going down the same path?
- Inspect any potential building code items that the work will be relates to. There’s no excuse for leaving work unchecked or poor work unfixed. If you find something that a previous contractor did, point it out to your customer and be proactive.
- Take customer service concerns seriously, even after the fact. Yes, the work was 7 years ago, but when the family felt they couldn’t get anywhere with the contractor, they went public.
- If you made a mistake, be prepared to fix it. Yes, someone may need to be fired if it is a serious problem.
- If the issue is not your fault, work with the client to come up with an estimate to fix it. Consider doing it at your cost (including the cost of your labor). They’ll sing your praises if you help them out, and that’s the best form of advertising.
- Be a liaison between your client and the city. Work with both parties for the benefit of your client. Building inspectors and code violations are intimidating to most people.
Remember that these kind of issues are very stressful and emotional to the family involved. Sometimes you need to let those emotions pass before they can look at the problems through your expert eyes. Often, bringing in an objective second opinion will help them see what’s an issue they need to pay for. If your customer service is lacking when problems with the work come up, those emotional, hurt people are going to turn to anyone they think might be able to help… and it’s not likely going to be a good thing for your business. On the other hand, treat your customers well. It may cost you more, but they’re going to tell their friends, and everyone is looking for a company they can trust.