What companies come to mind when you think of excellent customer service? Some have crafted such a great reputation that they’re almost automatic, like Nordstrom or Southwest Airlines. Chick-fil-A is another, where the employees have been trained to respond to a thank you by saying, “My pleasure,” instead of that lamentable Millennial bad habit of saying, “No problem.” Of course it’s not a problem. I just handed you money.
But if somebody asked you that question, why isn’t your first answer your own contracting firm? Brigham Dickinson, Power Selling Pros, put that question to contractors at the recent Quality Service Contractors Power Meeting in Minneapolis. Our old friend Brigham pointed out to the contractors that they know what excellent customer service is supposed to look like because they’ve experienced it somewhere else. A Chick-fil-A franchise makes more money than a McDonalds franchise, and Chick-fil-A only operates six days a week. Zappos went from nothing to a $1 billion by “delivering happiness,” not just shoes.
Here’s the challenge that poses for contractors: Because your customers have had the same experiences with great customer service, their expectations have been raised. So what do you do? Dickinson suggested that contractors need a Purpose, a Plan and Accountability.
What drives you? What’s your Purpose for being in business? It may be to be the best, to make money, because you have no other choice, for social recognition or because you’re working toward a “good cause.” In Dickinson’s case, the good cause is autism since he has an autistic son, a cause that his wife has attacked with CEO-like rigor. He cited Chick-fil-A as a company involved in many good causes.
Dickinson trained the crew at Butcher Distributing in New Orleans, whose mantra is “accuracy first.” That’s their purpose. At Neerings Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning in Salt Lake City, their purpose is, “My Dad Can Fix That.” For Dickinson’s own company, Power Selling Pros, their purpose is “Coaching Companies to Wow More Customers.”
Contractors may not think of themselves as being on the same plain as the big boys of commerce, but Brigham noted that we’re even cooler — we can control temperatures with our phones. That’s more exciting that selling shoes and chicken sandwiches. So where is the Zappos or Chick-fil-A of the contracting business? It hasn’t been created yet.
So once you know what your purpose is, how do you put it into action? At Butcher Distributing, they deliver phenomenal customer service by constantly checking a customer’s order every step of the way between the warehouse and the counter. They’ll suggest other pieces that may be needed to complete a job. The wholesaler has a bell at the exit that customers can ring if they got great customer service. When it rings, the entire staff shouts, “Accuracy first!”
Some contractors reinforce their message with a jingle or the way they answer the phone. At Neerings, they answer the phone, “We can fix that or your money back, this is [name], how can I help you?” The QSC contractors created their own purposes and greetings, such as, “Value is our Golden Rule” or “Keep Calm and We’ll Keep You Comfortable.” The phone greeting or commercial jingle must correlate with the company’s purpose. Brigham suggested to the contractors that they write down 20 different phone greetings and they’ll find one that they like. When you keep repeating that greeting, its message becomes part of the company’s culture.
So now that you know what to do, how do you make sure that your team is actually doing it? Accountability is reinforced with consistency, Brigham said to the contractors. Record all phone calls, listen to them and train accordingly. Do ride-alongs on a regular basis, and that’s not just management but CSRs too. Have the CSRs keep a checklist for what the techs are supposed to be doing, such as wearing booties inside the customer’s home. If you don’t have time to do ride-alongs, Brigham suggested hiring another of our old buddies, Kenny Chapman, the Blue Collar Coach.
Speaking of coaches, Brigham is an advocate of coaching for everyone. That’s not just for your CSRs and service techs, that includes you too. Even Dickinson has his own coach.