What is Customer Service?
While a tough question to answer, customer service boils down to everything you do relating to your customer.
Do you really go that extra step for the customer (or are you just trying to convince yourself that you do)?
Customer service starts with the initial telephone call the customer makes to you. How do you handle that call and, more importantly, when do you return that call? Remember, you set your customer's expectation with the first contact that customer has with you.
That expectation doesn't go away after the initial calls are made and the work is scheduled, either. It continues throughout the entire project and is part of every interaction you have with the customer.
Customer service is also intertwined with the professionalism you exhibit. When you arrive on time for appointments or scheduled work, you not only exude professionalism, you show respect for you customers' time constraints. They appreciate that.
How Do You Stack Up?
To determine whether you and your company do go that extra step, analyze every interaction you and your employees have with customers. How can you make that interaction more enjoyable for the customer? Look at your systems to make sure you do what the customer expects — as well as do the good things the customer doesn’t expect.
Recently we built a $200,000 addition for a customer. After the project was completed, the customer asked our superintendent, Ronnie Colston, to help put together one of those fancy gas grills he recently purchased. Ronnie took the grill home and put it together. Then, on his way back to deliver the assembled grill, Ronnie bought some grilling utensils and put them inside the grill unbeknownst to the customer.
Did the customer notice? Sure. He actually called Ronnie to say he didn’t think the utensils where included when he bought the grill.
We didn’t charge for any of this extra service, of course. It is just part of how we do business.
We may have done $200,000 worth of work, but you can bet the customer will tell his neighbors about the grill and what Ronnie did. And how that reflects on us will go a long way.
In a nutshell, that is how we define customer service. It doesn’t come just from a company’s owners; it comes from every employee, too. Customer service is one of the most important aspects of a company and can easily set you apart from your competition.
Erik Anderson, GMB, CAPS, CGB, is vice president of sales and marketing for Anderson-Moore Builders, Inc. in Winston-Salem, NC. He currently serves as first vice president of the Home Builders Association of Winston-Salem. For more information, send him an e-mail.
'Customer Relations Handbook for Builders' Available at BuilderBooks.com
The "Customer Relations Handbook for Builders", available at BuilderBooks.com, is a comprehensive, two-binder handbook that covers every aspect of customer relations and how it relates to your business. Topics include company philosophy, staffing, service procedures and reports, quality management, buyer expectations, product presentation, use of a homeowner manual, financing, selections, change orders, site visits, home owner orientation, warranty service, trade contractor service, communication skills, customer feedback and more.
More than 100 forms, checklists and figures drawn from both volumes of the Customer Relations Handbook are provided on diskette so you immediately can begin to customize and apply the materials your own building business. To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665 to order.
University of Housing Offers Courses on Customer Service and Business Management
The NAHB University of Housing offers a course on business management designed to help builders improve their business and profitability. To seach for current offerings, click here.
Nominate the Best of the Best for Remodelor™ of the Year
Applications for the Remodelors™ Council’s most prestigious awards program, the Remodelor™ of the Year Award, are now available online at www.nahb.org/remodelors under the Awards section.
The Remodelor™ of the Year Award recognizes exemplary NAHB involvement at any level, superior business management and an outstanding contribution to the remodeling industry. Councils should nominate individual remodelers, but the nominee must write his or her own entry essay.
The winner will be announced at the Remodelors™ Council Gala during the 2004 Remodeling Show in Chicago (Oct. 8).
Local Councils Honored With CADRE Awards
The Council Awards for Demonstrating Remodeling Excellence (CADRE) is awarded to local Remodelors™ Councils for superior member service in the categories of:
- Membership Recruitment & Retention
- Community Service Project
- Public Relations & Promotion
- Outstanding Associate Member
- Member Service/Education
- Government Affairs/Legislation
- Outstanding Council Chair
- Outstanding Executive Officer/Council Coordinator
For information, e-mail the Remodelors™ Council or call 800-368-5242 x8216.
Who Will Be Inducted to National Remodeling Hall of Fame?
The Remodelors™ Council is searching for the best of the best for induction into the America’s Best National Remodeling Hall of Fame. This award honors those individuals who have made a significant and lasting impact on the remodeling industry on a state or national basis.
Induction into America’s Best National Remodeling Hall of Fame is open to individuals in any public or private sector entity or institution. Areas of contribution may include industry image, governmental affairs, education, business management or any other contribution that has helped advance the remodeling profession. Please nominate individuals who have made a positive impact on the remodeling industry. Self nominations are not permitted.
Completed applications must be received by Monday, July 12. The induction ceremony will take place at the Remodelors™ Council Gala during the 2004 Remodeling Show in Chicago (Oct. 8).
Click here to download an application or contact Barbara Drobins at 800-368-5242 x8217 for more information.
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