How Contractors Can Provide a Positive Customer Service Experience
By Natasha Burton
As a contractor, you have a huge responsibility: Homeowners put their trust in you to turn their houses into their dream dwellings. Your skills as a craftsman and the quality of your crew determine if you’re able to make the hopes of your clients into their new reality. However, a truly great contractor isn’t just someone who knows their way around a job site—it’s someone who can put customers at ease, guide them through the construction process and provide the professional insight they need to make necessary decisions along the way.
That’s why, in addition to honing your craft and business skills, it’s also important to understand how you can provide a positive customer service experience. Here are five things you can do to be the contractor your clients love to refer.
Make a Solid First Impression
We all know the power of first impressions, for better or for worse. When honing your customer service skills, this may be the most important part to work on. To make a good first impression with potential clients, start with your website and marketing materials. Showcase your professionalism, your expertise and your contact information clearly. When talking to would-be clients over the phone, keep your tone authoritative yet positive. When you meet clients for the first time, make eye contact and give a firm handshake to show your confidence. From the very start, be someone that other people want to hire.
Stick to Your Word
Be someone your customers can count on. When determining your start date, be realistic as to when you really can begin the project and stick to that day. If you have a meeting with the homeowner, be there on time. Of course, life comes up during any job—especially so when you’re working on construction or renovation projects—but being a person that others can count on goes a long way toward gaining your customers’ trust. If you say you’ll be there (or you’ll get something done), do your best to honor your word.
From the time a client contacts you for an estimate until the project’s completion, provide open lines of communication, whether that’s by phone, email or text. Return messages promptly and reach out when you say you will. When needed, set aside time to talk in person if phone calls or emails are flowing just a little too heavily. This will assure the customer that you truly care.
Following up with your customers after the job is over is another way you can provide great customer service. Checking in to make sure they are happy with the work and that everything on the punch list was taken care of assures them that you truly care about the outcome of the project, not just the bottom line.
Give Your Opinion
In the end, you know houses better than your customers do. When something comes up—as it always does with a renovation—be willing to give advice to your clients on how to handle particular situations. If a pipe bursts, suggest which type of material you would use on your own home to replace it. If a client is struggling over whether to take down a wall, give your insider opinion. While the decisions are ultimately up to the clients, they’ll appreciate your candor in providing options, especially when the budget is tight.
Keep It Clean
Construction is messy, and homeowners shouldn’t expect a truly clean house when you’re in the throes of a job. However, making sure your crew and your trades tidy up each day is an important part of providing great customer service. While a little dust is justifiable, trash left from that day’s lunch break isn’t. You might also consider making a point to haul your trash and leftover supplies at the end of each week to keep a mess from piling up.
All of these positive customer service experiences add up to one thing—encouraging your clients to refer you to other homeowners. When you’re someone who sticks to your word, keeps communication open and respects the homes you work in, you make it easy for customers to sing your praises. This leads not only to more business but also the knowledge that you have a solid, trusted reputation. That, of course, is priceless.
Natasha Burton has written for Women’s Health, Livestrong, MSN.com, Cosmopolitan.com and WomansDay.com, among other print and online publications. She’s also the author of five books, including “101 Quizzes for Couples” and “The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags.”