Of all the terms and phrases we use in the construction industry, I think Customer Service is the most used but least well defined.
A quick search of just a few architectural and construction services websites reveals a jumble of words and phrases directed towards potential clients in an effort to assure them that the customer is the center of their world and they provide excellent customer service.
integrity, quality, and excellence
exceed our client’s expectations
satisfaction of our clients
establishing long-term relationships
performing above and beyond those expectations
we listen to you
long-term satisfied clients
satisfying the needs and expectations of our clients
dedicate ourselves to serving our clients
commitment to Owner satisfaction
focus on Owner’s needs
ensuring customer satisfaction
your building experience is a positive one
we’ve got your back
listen carefully to you
we want to make your building process enjoyable
we are good listeners
collaboration with our clients
And the old standby…on time, in budget
ead as part of your website or brochures, these sound like positive, comforting statements, carefully crafted to help convince the potential client that your company is the only company that will:
We really listen carefully, and give you personal attention, by satisfying your needs and expectations, and dedicating ourselves to serving you, because we want to make your building process enjoyable.
But potential clients don’t read your marketing material alone, they visit many websites, and the carefully chosen words and statements you use are also used by your competitors.
They become common, ordinary and meaningless to potential clients as they try to differentiate between you and the other businesses.
And if you can’t clearly differentiate your business from others, if you aren’t the best choice you become just another one of many and the customer will use price ( the lowest price ) to make their choice.
“The customer’s perception is your reality.”
I hold many seminars for businesses and trade organizations for our industries and my favorite is the Customer Service…Why Your Not Giving It.
Included in that seminar are real life examples of companies that have marketing budgets of hundreds of thousands of dollars yet have lost millions of dollars of projects because they don’t spend a dime on a well defined Customer Service program.
So what’s your ROI on those expensive yet meaningless words?
A Better Way to Attract and Keep Customers
If you want to be the best choice for the clients you serve, if you really want differentiate your business from the competition, then you must give better Customer service and begin to invest in a Structured Customer Service Program.
“You’ll never have a product or price advantage again. They can be easily duplicated, but a strong customer service culture can’t be copied.”
“But we give great customer service!”
Then you should be able to answer some simple questions:
• Do you have a structured Customer Service Program?
• What are your company’s Customer Service goals, strategies and tactics?
• Who is in charge of that program?
• How is the program funded?
• How is the program integrated into the other segments of your business?
• Are your Customer Service goals and results measured?
• Are those results used as hiring, compensation, promotion and retention criteria?
Sadly I have found very few business that answer those questions other than:
If those answers make me sound cynical it’s because I have seen too many opinion polls that rank contractors slightly above politicians and bankers for trust worthiness.
We can and should do better than that.
We ( contractors and Architects ) are our own worst enemy when we talk a great story but more often than not, fail to deliver the level of Customer Service we promise our customers.
By doing this we disappoint our customers, de-value our companies and our industries and often grow bitter and disappointed with our careers.
“Treat every customer as if they sign your paycheck … because they do.”