I’ve now been in the decorating business and in the home services business more generally for about forty years–in fact our fortieth anniversary is coming up in January!! and I think I can say I have a degree of experience in dealing with customers.
I also have quite a few friends and associates who also work in the same sort of business-home services where customer relations form a central part of what the business does. One of these friends used to joke that the decorating business would be a great business to be in if only it weren’t for the customers!! and its true-some customers can be very demanding -but on the whole its more a matter of what you do -0r don’t do-rather than any inherent fault with customers.
It starts from the very first contact. Good manners-listening to what the customer has to say-getting all the information on the original telephone call and answering the customers questions all go towards creating that all-important first impression. Nothing is so off-putting as calling up for a quote to be met with a discourteous, disinterested attitude from the person on the other end of the line who insists on cutting you off mid-sentence, doesn’t listen and is generally a poor representative of whatever company he or she is supposed to be the first contact for.
The first meeting with the customer is possibly even more important than the first phone call. Again, good manners are the key to a successful impression. Try not to be late–not always possible in congested Central London–and if you are going to be late call the customer as far ahead as you can to let them know. Apart from being good manners this often in itself creates a positive first impression–rather than just showing up late and then making your excuses. Look at the customer when you introduce yourself-hand them your business card and offer to shake their hand. Engage them in conversation -but don’t be artificial about it–find something about them or their property that genuinely interests you and talk about it. Ask them about the job–listen carefully to what they say and let them know you have heard them and you have understood what they want. Don’t interrupt them. Don’t be dismissive or disinterested. Let them know that their job and they themselves are important to you and your business–because they are!.
More on Customer Relations later.
Under the following headings:
Making a happy customer.
Dealing with a difficult customer.