- The flooring company you hired to replace your carpet tells you their technician and his assistant will be there at 8:00 am. At 9:30 they call to tell you they are running late…
- Your pest control service was scheduled for 10:00 am today. At 10:45 you call the office to find out how much longer the technician will be. They say they will call the technician and find out where he is. Neither the office nor the technician calls you back. At 11:30 you call the office again and tell them they will have to reschedule you for another day…
- Your doctor appointment is for 12:15 pm. You arrive at 12:05 (because they asked you to arrive early to fill out paperwork). You are still in the waiting room at 1:20 and when you ask how much longer your wait will be, you receive a blank stare (or worse, a glare for even asking)…
- The flooring company technician, because he was running late both days he was at your house, has to come back a third day to finish…
I’m guessing all of you have experienced similar scenarios – I experienced all of them in the past 7 days.
TIME – Time is the one significant resource that we all get an equal amount of each day – and it is NOT RENEWABLE! Treating your customers as if their time is of no value is an insult, it is bad customer service and it will eventually result in lost revenue for you. Period.
Do you understand what scenarios like these say to your customer?
- My time is worth more than yours is.
- Your time means nothing to me.
- I don’t care that your spouse had to take time off work to be here.
- I don’t care that you had to cancel your morning coaching appointments (twice) due to my lateness.
- I don’t care that you had to take an additional morning off work because of my poor time management.
- You should be happy I showed up at all. Now, can I have my check please?
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I own a service-based business. I understand that sometimes “stuff” happens. The products you need to perform the service/job you were hired to perform don’t show up on schedule. You get to the previous work order and it becomes a much bigger job and much more time consuming than was estimated. You have an essential production employee or service provider call out sick. I get it.
But that is not your customer’s problem – it’s YOUR problem.
I have very high expectations of my service business, because I want my customers to feel that we value them and their time. What do we do to encourage those feelings?
- WE CALL – as soon as we know there is going to be a delay. We explain the delay and give a new estimate for a completion time. When we call THEM before they have to call US it makes for much happier and much more understanding customers.
- WE OVERESTIMATE TIME. We may be fully confident that the job will be done by 2:30 on Tuesday, but the moment that is communicated to the customer, it is chiseled in granite in their mind. So, we will give an expectation that allows for late parts, earlier work taking a turn, etc. If none of these (common) situations occur, then we call the customer and tell them their work was completed “early.” Happy customer, happy business.
- WE SET THE EXPECTATION UP FRONT. We don’t make promises we cannot keep. If a customer asks us to have a job done by a day and time we know we cannot meet, we say so. We will explain why we cannot meet that expectation, and they will still give us the job while allowing us to set the schedule.
- WE COMMUNICATE CLEARLY. We always add “unless we have difficulty obtaining the parts needed” because it is a common problem in our service industry. If you have COMMON situations that delay work schedules, communicate them.
- WE APPRECIATE PEOPLE. Every customer is a potential referral. Every customer is a potential referral-killer. You can screw up the job, you can have multiple delays, you can call them every few hours with more bad news – but treat them with value and respect, and fix the problem with a quality solution, and they will tell others how great you are. Why? Because it is absolutely true that people remember most how you make them feel.
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How did I handle my scenarios as a customer?
- I’ve had the same pest control company for years. This was a very unusual problem; he is normally a few minutes early. I rescheduled for 2 days later and the technician was on time. They also offered me a free service for the inconvenience since I am a long-term customer. I was satisfied with the way they ended up “fixing” the situation.
- Same with my doctor’s office – I have gone there for years and my normal wait is about 15 minutes or less past my appointment time. It turned out that one of the NPs was out sick and this caused a backlog. I let them know that explaining the situation when I arrived would have helped me adjust my expectations, or they could have asked me if I would be willing to reschedule. My NP took my suggestions to the front desk clerk and told her to do just that. So, perhaps it helped the rest of the waiting room that day…
- And the carpet contractor? Well, the technician is very apologetic and is doing fantastic work… but he was 2 ½ hours late again today and about 30 minutes after he got here he realized he did not have enough materials and had to leave again… Not sure if I will recommend them to others or not… Maybe if I include the disclaimer “but add a few hours to whatever they tell you…”
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