Solid workmanship is key to customer satisfaction. Everyone knows that. But it might surprise contractors to learn how many complaints they can avoid with excellent customer service.
Referencing complaints in just Missouri and Kansas, of the nearly 500 filed with the BBB in 2017 against home improvement contractors, the most common issues centered on customer service. Compared with complaints about warranty issues (12.7 percent) or repair issues (5.4 percent), customer service complaints outnumbered both combined (20.1 percent). Why is that?
Understand the Customer
When a customer contacts a home improvement contractor, something has already gone wrong—a leaky roof, rotten siding, broken windows, hail-damaged gutters or any number of problems. Unlike customers who buy products and expect them to work properly, customers hiring contractors want what they already have to be fixed or replaced. Contractors enter transactions with customers who never wanted to contact them in the first place.
Customers searching for contractors are stressed out. Their daily lives have been temporarily upended, and they’re looking for someone to help get their lives back on track as painlessly as possible. This is where contractors will want to focus if they are to avoid customer service issues.
No business is perfect. Problems arise, and sometimes customer complaints are unavoidable. Customers know this. They don’t expect every business to be flawless. It’s easy for businesses to more vividly remember irate customers than mundane ones, but irate customers are actually rare.
Even so, contractors have less wiggle room with mistakes they make because they so often deal with people who are stressed to start with. That is why contractors need to be on top of their customer service game.
An irate customer is frequently created by communication breakdown by the business. Customers report frustrations like “no one called me back,” that they were “unable to contact” the business, and they got messages of “full voicemail” when they called the business. Worst is when the customer schedules an appointment and the company is a “no-show.”
No matter how many issues the business is juggling, the customer probably has just as many. Combine that with the customer’s focus on just one issue (their own), as well as the need to take days off work, make appointments on their lunch breaks, amend their budget and reschedule other life events to accommodate a repair, it is easy to understand why they’re intolerant of no-shows. There is no more efficient way to turn a disgruntled customer into an outright enemy. Customers rely on contractors to return them to their routines, not make the repair more trouble than it’s worth.
It may be irritating for a business to hear from an angry customer every day—but, guaranteed, the customer is no happier calling all the time. Even if a business has conflicting schedules or family emergencies, it needs to keep the customer in the loop, especially if it has to cancel.
Being responsive to customers who call, especially if the call concerns a mistake, will eliminate most customer service issues. If a customer calls to have a mistake rectified, they may not even be upset yet. Again, customers understand that sometimes problems come up. However, if a business lets customers twist in the wind, the customer will get upset. By responding quickly, businesses have an opportunity to look impressive and fast-acting.
The customer expects a business to respond in a reasonable time, but businesses can cut off possible problems by calling back quickly. If the customer sounds upset, the best plan of action is for the business to call back immediately. Sure, some customers may demand an unreasonable resolution to make them happy, but for the most part, customers just don’t want the hassle. They want the havoc caused to their daily lives to cease. Businesses best serve themselves by acting quickly, decisively and professionally. Making the customer know that their satisfaction is of the utmost importance gives them comfort and confidence that a solution will be forthcoming.
Call back, call quickly and keep in touch. Keeping just these few things in mind when dealing with customers will cause customer service-related complaints against contractors to plummet.