By Matt Doyle, VP and Co-Founder of Excel Builders.
Nurturing a reputation is an important part of developing any business. You want customers to remember you and to pass positive opinions on to their friends and neighbors. You can focus on almost anything as it pertains to your reputation. But for many reasons, I like my clients to remember my service as friendly.
You can prove your service is priced well with your ads or that your service is reliable with certifications. However, it’s pretty hard for customers to believe that you’re pleasant to work with if they don’t hear it from others they trust. With a lot of work, I was able to start hearing from my customers that our friendly reputation preceded us. Here are some of the most effective ways to make that happen.
Create Standards for Greeting Every Customer
First, make sure that customers have a consistent, positive experience. You can probably already trust that your employees are pleasant people if you hired them, but you want to make sure that the first impression is always the sending the right message. Create a plan for how you want customers to first encounter your business. Think about it from the perspective of someone meeting one of your representatives, calling your offices and visiting your website.
I planned for a greeting that focused on our commitment to customer needs. The first thing every customer heard was that we wanted them to get exactly what they want. In my experience, these phrases started showing up in reviews about our business shortly after. Just setting an expectation and being able to fulfill it can build an identity for your customers.
Reinforce Interpersonal Skills With Annual Training
Even the friendliest employees can use a good refresher and a new perspective on the tools that are available to them for interpersonal communication. I try to send my employees to at least one seminar, conference or short class on those skills a year. The rewards here are both immediate and long-term. New skills that are spread to the team can turn customer experiences around quickly, and they accumulate to make for far more skilled team members as time goes on.
Make Your Services, Sales and Promises as Clear as Possible
Preventing disputes with your customers is critical if you want to be remembered for friendly service. There will always be misunderstandings, but you can avoid and prevent a lot of them just by making sure you’re as clear as you can be.
Take some time to review all of your materials: sales letters, ads, invoices -- whatever the average customer would see. Make sure there is no room for misunderstanding and that you can gently refer customers to the consistency of printed and online materials if they’ve misunderstood.
Recognize the Need for Flexibility
For all the disputes that can’t be prevented with a little more clarity, it’s sometimes important to remember that flexibility can pay off. Sometimes, it’s best to just give the customer what they want even if you don’t come out on top if you want to keep your reputation. That’s not an invitation to let people take advantage of you, but it’s important to remember that hundreds to thousands of people may read a review over its life. Taking a small loss on one service call can help you keep a shining reputation for years.
Watch for the Rewards
Being the friendliest service in your area will have advantages. Watch for them in them in the way that your customers approach your business and review your services. It may take a few months before training and communication start to show results, but it’s worth the effort.
Matt Doyle is the VP and Co-Founder of Excel Builders, a truly unique custom home builder, creating homes that make every day easier.