Last month in this space, I reviewed a series of market projections for 2014 from Harvard University as well as the industry’s leading associations.
Creating Satisfied Remodeling Clients
Remodelers can create satisfied customers through company culture, a common language of customer satisfaction and client relations management systems.
In my first article on this subject, we talked about the concept of creating client satisfaction through company culture. In the second, we discussed giving everyone in your company a common language of customer satisfaction. Remember “9s and 10s”? It is a way of rating client satisfaction — from 1 through 10 — where a 9 or a 10 would indicate an absolute “raving fan” of your company. In this article we are going to provide some tools to use in the pursuit of the often elusive “9 and 10.”
Delivering an experience for clients that creates that 9 and 10 begins systemically and ends in a more organic, naturally occurring way. So you must start by having systems in place for everything you do, from the initial contact by the client to the final warranty support. Creating true raving fans cannot be a hit-or-miss deal, where you make up for problems and mistakes with heroic gestures of customer service. In fact, when good systems are in place and a solid foundation is laid, getting a client to 9s and 10s should not take massive efforts.
Here are some critical systems that will set the stage for creating raving fans:
• The Client Relations Management System is the first and ongoing connection between you and your client. When a new client calls into your office it is handled the same way every time — no exceptions. Hopefully, a warm and caring person answers the phone. Client information is entered into a system that provides access to that information by all team members involved in serving that client; there is no need for double entry of data by multiple people. And as a project makes it through your system, the details are captured in a logical and consistent way.
• The Sales System properly introduces the company to the client (and vice versa) and sets client expectations. Clients are educated about how the company works and what to expect (and what not to expect) if they choose to do business with you. Any salesperson should be able to give the same client the same experience; they need to be able to “tell your story” in a way that gets all the key points across. If not, you have work to do! They also need to set production up for success by not promising the moon. It takes discipline and self-restraint, but your salespeople must “under-promise” so production can “overdeliver.” Even when done well, the process of remodeling is an inconvenience to our clients; telling them that everything will be easy is the perfect way to fail your clients and your company.
• The Production System ensures that your projects are kicked-off, produced, completed and warranted in the same way every time. Your production process controls the job site, determines the schedule, coordinates the flow of work and ensures that the work you produce has the client experience in mind at all times. Similar to the first sales meeting, the pre-construction meeting (with the salesperson, production manager, lead carpenter and clients all in attendance) offers the chance to reinforce what has been said in the sales process. It also ensures that the client's expectations are in line with production's capabilities. Your clients now understand what to expect, who to call with questions and concerns and that they are confident that they are in the capable hands of your production team.
Systemization of your company's key processes allows you to be predictable and consistent, freeing up your people to take the client experience to the next level. The reality is that each system area is comprised of many sub-systems and procedures. Building rock-solid systems is not an overnight task but one well worth the effort. When systems work, time normally wasted correcting for inconsistencies can now be used to exceed your client's expectations!
In our company, 9s and 10s are rarely the result of Herculean efforts. More often, they are small, consistent efforts perceived by our clients as personally meaningful or “above and beyond” the call of duty — small things such as involving the kids in the project, showing an interest in the family pets or buying a toy tool belt for a preschooler. There are many more examples, but the core must be employees who noticeably care about our clients and the work they do for them. When you get each member of your team to truly own their part of the client experience, you begin to create raving fans and your company secures its future in your market.
|Dave Bryan is the president and CEO of Blackdog design/build/remodel in Salem, N.H. He is also a facilitator for Remodelers Advantage. Contact Dave at email@example.com.|