Technology has revolutionized business. Not only has it dramatically changed the speed with which we work, but it has also affected how we interact with one another on a personal level.
One place where I believe technology has been abused is in our interaction with clients. Today, a remodeler not only needs to be an expert in remodeling but also in communicating with clients in a variety of ways, including email, text messages, video, and social media.
You now have the ability to communicate the entire project electronically—scheduling and designs, addressing any questions, sending invoices, and receiving payments—without ever speaking to the client. Feedback on your work product or the client’s experience with your company is handled through electronic reviews or customer satisfaction surveys. While this is highly efficient, don’t assume that it’s always the most effective way to communicate. Don’t assume that you’re creating a “client for life” through technology.
High Touch vs. High Tech
Last holiday season I received about 35 electronic cards and five handwritten cards. Which form of holiday cheer did I most appreciate? Which was discarded the quickest?
I’m sure you’re already using a variety of technologies, but I think it’s important to maintain a balance between high tech and high touch. Here are some high-touch techniques I suggest you weave back into your daily habits.
Call, don’t just email. Plan what you want to say in case you have to keep it short—and be prepared for what you’ll say in a voicemail if no one answers. Try calling one past client each day just to keep in touch, not to peddle your services. You’ll be surprised by how much business doing so can generate over time.
Send a handwritten note. I have lunch with a good friend once a quarter, and after every meeting he sends me a simple note. What a great way to keep the lunch memory alive!
Stop by. How often do you just pop in at a past client’s home to say “I was in the neighborhood and wanted to say hello and see how you’re doing.” Such brief visits may be the best marketing you can do.
Train your team. The high-touch mind-set is not as easy for some craftsmen as it is for most salespeople. Training helps. For example, when arriving at a client’s home, before unloading tools or materials, a carpenter should first look for the client to say hello.
Use more visuals. Like a handwritten note, a hand-drawn sketch can help clients connect better and make them feel more comfortable. You might also begin to use more diagrams to describe your process, not just your product. Metaphors and analogies work the same way, “painting a picture” that communicates in a meaningful way.
Give a gift. This can be a personal gift, something for a client’s home, or the gift of a couple of hours of services. The cost is minimal, but the gesture will leave a strong impression.
Technology properly employed can save tremendous amounts of time and reduce miscommunication. But I also think the pendulum has swung too far. Keep the balance by asking which approach—high-tech or high-touch—will be most effective in any given situation. PR