flexiblefullpage - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Currently Reading

What Customers Want

billboard -

What Customers Want

A close reading of positive reviews can tell you a lot about what customers value. What you find may be surprising.

February 27, 2018
This article first appeared in the March 2018 issue of Pro Remodeler.

In a world where every potential customer’s first step is to search the Web, online reviews are critical to marketing success. This naturally leads to a preoccupation with reputation management, but for time-crunched remodelers, this often amounts to counting stars. Four- and five-star reviews get a quick look, while most time and energy is devoted to damage control from negative reviews.

There is value in learning from our mistakes, but it’s only half of the story customer reviews are telling. I was talking yesterday about online selling with Dan Wolt, founder of Zen Windows, a Columbus, Ohio-based company that now has more than 30 franchises nationwide. Zen Windows stands out from the replacement window crowd for a number of reasons—for example, no deposit is required, so clients pay nothing until the job is complete. But the main differentiator is that there is no in-home salesforce—the sale is made by the franchise owner and takes place by phone, email, and Internet. And it’s been that way since 2008.

You can read more about Zen Windows in our August, 2016 issue, but what struck me yesterday was something Dan said about his customer testimonials: “Nobody mentions the windows.” We both knew he was exaggerating, but when I checked, I understood what he meant: most customers did mention the windows, but it was almost an afterthought.

It’s Not About The Stuff

Don’t get me wrong: Your work product is important. But when it comes to customer satisfaction, it’s not the main event. Reading through the testimonials on the Zen WIndows website paints such a clear picture of why people hire the company that I began to wonder how many remodelers bother to analyze their own customer testimonials. 

A look at what Dan’s customers say is a real window (!) into what they value. 

“Easy,” “simple,” “fast.” More than any others, these three keywords appear early in a review to describe ... the sales process? That’s right, the “buying experience,” as many called it, is as important or more important to people than the stuff they’re buying. Some reviewers went on at length to express relief at not having to sit through another high-pressure sales presentation.

“Informed,” “notified,” “communicated.” This one is telling. Despite all of the tools we have to stay in touch with customers, the fact that so many people mention good communication makes me think that “disappearing remodeler syndrome” is still far too commonplace.

“Timely,” “prompt,” “professional.” One homeowner wrote: “Did what they said they’d do, when they said they’d do it.” Obviously, that’s what most people want, but the very fact that this statement appears at all tells me that most customers expect the opposite. 

“Clean.” This word showed up in just about every review I read. Apparently, the industry still has a reputation for making a mess, which means there is a lot of value in making sure you don’t.

“Price.” Like the windows themselves, price is almost always mentioned, but it’s clearly a couple notches down on the list. That’s worth noting because Zen Windows is not the cheapest game in town.

How To Succeed in Business

This list of keywords tells me that people these days—meaning in the digital age—don’t have the time or patience for a traditional sales process. They speak, not of a “sale,” but of a “buying experience.” They want information before, during, and after they buy, and not just about the product but about the who, how, why, and when of the installation. And they want you to treat them and their property with respect.

That’s not asking for much. The trick is making it “simple, easy, and fast.” A key step for Zen Windows was to eliminate face-to-face meetings. Radical, but it’s working.

What story are your testimonials telling?

written by

Sal Alfano

Executive Editor

Sal Alfano is executive editor for Professional Remodelersal.alfano@gmail.com, 202.365.9070

Related Stories

A Look at Quiet Quitting

“Quiet quitting” is affecting many industries, including remodeling. Here’s what we can do to combat it.

5 Things To Do About "It"

Although the changing economy and resulting consumer behaviors may feel out of your control, there are still a few impactful things you can do

Does Encouragement Really Matter?

Home improvement industry leader Brian Gottlieb shares the importance of encouragement for any business

Tips to Get Started on Your Exit Strategy

It’s never too early to begin planning the next stage of your life. Industry advisor Mark Richardson offers some tips to get started

Are You a Farmer or a Hunter?

Industry advisor Mark Richardson says that over the last year, there’s been a major shift in the remodeling business from a farming mentality to a hunting skill set

The Argument for a Four Day Remodeling Work Week

The four-day work week has a global spotlight—could it work in remodeling?

How We Nurture Trade Partner Relationships

Here's what the director of production of a $36 million company does to strengthen trade partner relationships

Sustainability and Strengthening Company Values

Allen Construction CFO Lindsay Helmick talks company values, new initiatives to strengthen them, and the company's focus on sustainability.

A Letter to Your Clients: 10 Ways to be a World-Class Client

Mark Richardson flips the script, offering insights into what makes a good client and ways remodelers can help

5 Tips for Successful Performance Reviews

If you want to peek into a successful business, look inside the minds of its people

boombox1 -
native1 -

More in Category


5 Things To Do About "It"

Although the changing economy and resulting consumer behaviors may feel out of your control, there are still a few impactful things you can do

native2 -
halfpage1 -