Most tradies I know underestimate the value of client service, often resulting in low revenue and difficulty in handling customer complaints.
In my own personal experience, I found that the #1 thing I can do to create client loyalty is to deliver MASSIVE value to my clients as quickly as possible.
Well, that doesn’t sound so easy.
Unless you already have vast experience dealing with numerous clients, then finding out what they really want from you will involve trial and error.
You simply can’t afford to make a mistake and risk losing customers.
When it comes to dealing with customers, the only real standard is the old mantra: “the customer is always right.”
In your business, I can almost guarantee you will encounter customers with more extreme personalities than you thought possible.
If you want to grow your customer base and maximize revenue generation, try incorporating these 10 Commandments of Customer Service. Follow them, and you’ll turn your clients into raving fans:
1. Don’t expect your clients to tolerate service mistakes. – When something goes wrong, it’s understandable to be upset or angry at the person who made the mistake. Understand your clients will likely feel this way if you make a mistake on any of their work.
It’s not fair to expect them to be okay when things go wrong, where you likely wouldn’t be okay, had the same thing happened to you.
2. Always do what you say you will, when you say you will do it. – If you say you will be there at 1pm then 1:15pm is not “almost on time.” It’s late. It’s unacceptable.
If you aren’t going to be able to do something when or where you said you would contact your client, let them know what’s happened, apologize, and let them know how you plan on moving forward.
The worst thing you can do is NOT let them know.
3. Never, ever make a promise that you’re not absolutely sure you can keep, promise-breaking is the same as lying. – Lying is not tolerated, especially not towards a client.
4. Always write down your promises rather than just trying to remember them. – If you’re anything like most of my clients, you’re busy, helping multiple clients at a time, relaying with suppliers, organizing your team, and keeping things on track.
Relying on your memory to ensure a client gets what you promised, is more of a 50/50 chance that it won’t get forgotten amongst the chaos. So take a pen and a notepad and make sure it’s written down.
5. Remember that unacknowledged communication is the most profound form of disrespect. – If your client sends you an email, they will be expecting a response. A quick “Thanks for your email, I’ll send you an update tomorrow evening” when a client asks about the progress of their job, or a return phone call if you miss their call.
Refusing to acknowledge they tried to contact you is straight disrespectful, while it doesn’t seem like such a big deal at the time, your client could be wondering if you actually got their email/ phone call/ etc. and a confused client is not a satisfied client.
6. Reply to every inbound email or phone call within half the time your clients expect you to reply. – If you’ve told them you will try to respond within one business day, respond within half the day. This shows you are committed to their project.
7. Review your task list before the end of the day to make sure you haven’t broken any promises. – This is your last chance in the day to ensure everything is on track to making sure all your clients are happy. This means fixing up any last minute things and ensuring nothing got missed.
The worst thing you can do is break a promise and your only excuse is “I forgot.”
8. If it appears that you won’t be able to keep a promise, re-negotiate before the deadline. – Sometimes things happen. Suppliers run behind, materials get damaged, bad weather, etc.
But if you’ve made a promise and you aren’t going to be able to keep it, make sure you let your clients know before your deadline, and re-set a new timeline.
The last thing you want to be doing is waiting until the deadline, letting your client know it’s not complete, and then try to re-negotiate.
It looks unreliable to your client and unprofessional on your behalf.
9. Always use autoresponders and voice mail messages to communicate your absence so you don’t appear non-responsive. – If you’re going to be away, don’t let people call or email you and then have those unanswered messages sitting there.
Set up an autoresponder to communicate your absence and let them know when they can expect to hear from you, or when you will return.
Where possible also try to give them an alternative person to contact, so they can get their questions and problems sorted, without having to rely on you returning in time.
10. Communication technology problems are never acceptable excuses for breaking promises, so make sure your computers and phones are working correctly.
Although you can usually prevent conflict and discord by following the 10 Commandments, there will inevitably be some clients who are exceedingly difficult to work with and impossible to please. That’s when you have a decision to make: “Is the money they’re paying me worth the hassles they’re creating?”
Every once in awhile, I have to fire a client.
It’s rare, but it happens.
So remember: If someone just isn’t jiving with you, or if they’re abusive or otherwise causing you undue emotional distress, it’s okay to pull the plug. Just keep in mind that if you find yourself doing this a lot, the problem may have something to do with you.