Every business owner, no matter the industry, can agree that good customer service is an essential element to success. Treating customers with respect and learning how to anticipate their wants and needs are basic principles that should be at the core of every business. In the home remodeling industry, especially, our customers put a high value on customer service – for good reason. Homeowners are often planning remodeling projects during their increasingly limited free time, and therefore demonstrate less patience for miscommunication and poor service than they might when dealing with a service professional in another industry. In addition, since a home is most likely the largest purchase he or she may ever make, emotions often run high when homeowners are investing large sums of money into making their homes more comfortable for their families.
It almost goes without saying that the benefits that come along with satisfied customers are seemingly endless and can impact more than just the reputation of your business. A happy customer is likely a repeat customer and a free advertisement for your services, via word of mouth and social media. Likewise, a disgruntled customer who experiences subpar customer service can do a fair amount of damage to your bottom line, especially given the popularity of online review forums and websites. Just one unpleasant experience with an unprepared or unhelpful employee can put a bad taste in a homeowner’s mouth that subsequently prevents their friends and relatives from hiring your business in the future.
One of the first steps toward ensuring a positive experience for your employees is to create a company culture that inspires, and sustains, exemplary customer service. At Power, we’ve found that there is no secret to building this inspiring environment. Rather, it involves providing your employees with a solid basis of training, motivation and encouragement. Here are a few tips on how to construct a team of employees who put customer service first:
- Lay the groundwork: When hiring, look for people who share the same values as your organization, and take the time to train them to put those principles into action. Give them the tools to handle customer interactions in a professional manner, and establish an open door policy that allows for frequent and transparent feedback. If an employee knows his or her manager is available for counsel when a potentially difficult customer situation arises, things are more likely to go in a positive direction.
- Provide incentive: Whether it’s rewarding an employee for continued success with a bonus or simply taking the time to thank your staff for completing their daily tasks, incentives can be great motivators, especially in a customer service-driven industry like ours. No gestures of recognition, no matter how small, ever go unnoticed and can go a long way toward letting your employees know that their hard work pays off. Consider sending an all staff email when a particularly driven employee handles a customer situation in the ideal manner, or if your business is a large one like ours, with multiple locations in several different states, consider making a phone call to commend that employee as personally as possible.
- Share customer feedback: Employees need to know when their hard work is paying off, and who better to hear it from than directly from the customer. Implement a customer review process, either online or on paper, that will benefit your business in more ways than one, allowing employees to hear praise or constructive criticism and giving you a chance to learn from past experiences. Consider it a continuing education and training program, for you as well as your staff.
Finally, remember that when it comes to stellar customer service, everyone has something to learn, and to gain. It doesn’t matter if you are a CEO or an entry-level employee – focusing time and energy on improving the way you treat your customer base should always be a priority.
Asher Raphael is the Chief Strategy Officer of Power Home Remodeling Group, the nation’s sixth largest home remodeling company with more than 1,200 employees and $170 million in annual sales. Power provides energy-saving and environmentally friendly exterior remodeling solutions to homeowners in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Asher oversees the company’s overall strategic direction, which includes evaluating and directing new business opportunities, partner alliances, government relations and national expansion. Asher is also instrumental in the critical recruitment and development of prospective and existing talent, overseeing the company’s talent acquisition department.