Think Like Your Clients, Firms Advised

Think Like Your Clients, Firms Advised

Decorative plumbing/hardware showroom personnel and other retail firms connected with the kitchen and bath industry need to "think like their customers" in order to consistently offer the best possible service and reduce customer complaints. So says the Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Association (DPHA), the year-old, Bethesda, MD-based trade association serving decorative plumbing and hardware showrooms.

In a recent advisory to its member firms, the DPHA observed that showrooms serving the kitchen and bath market should never fail to periodically review existing complaint-and-return policies.

"There's an old business maxim, 'If you like our service, tell others; if you don't, tell us,' " the DPHA said. "That attitude turns every complaint into a learning experience and empirical case study that provides business owners with lessons for improvement."

The DPHA suggests that an effective customer complaint policy should have at least the following five components:

1. Always listen regardless of how inane a complaint may be.
"Most people complain because they believe they have a legitimate grievance," the DPHA says.

2. Think like your customer, the DPHA suggests.
"Ask yourself how you would feel if you found yourself in the same situation as your customer," the DPHA advises. "Similarly, ask yourself what would it take, if you were in a similar situation, to make you happy?"

3. If a visit to your customer's home by you or a member of your staff is necessary, make sure you make an appointment and make sure you're on time. Never stop by unannounced. That's a hallmark
of a company that's unprofessional, and unwelcome.

4. Remember that there are two sides to every story.
"Never admit fault if you don't have all the facts; and never deny responsibility until all the facts are in place," the DPHA advises. "If your company or people have made a mistake, admit it and move on. Honesty usually wins out."

5. If the complaint turns out to be erroneous or inane, never make the customer look bad. In fact, "capitalize on opportunities to have the customer save face," the DPHA suggests.

The association offers the following approach to irate customers: "Your response is not unusual. That's why it's important for us to research your complaint and get the facts. Thanks for pointing out this situation so we can avoid it with others in the future."