Are you setting yourself up for failure? No matter how hard you work to win and keep business, there are simple things you can do — sometimes without even realizing it — that will send customers running in the other direction. Here are three of the quickest and easiest ways to lose customers, as well as their good reviews and referrals:
1. Break your promises. Your customers are counting on you from the first encounter to keep your word and deliver on your promises. This means showing up on time, keeping appointments, delivering documents and materials when you say you will, and sticking to an agreed-upon budget and schedule. Failing to keep even the simplest promises is the surest way to lose the trust and confidence of your customers.
The fix? Document — and keep — every commitment you make. If you’re unable to keep a commitment for any reason, be sure to apologetically inform your customer as soon as possible so that you can jointly make alternative arrangements.
2. Be a poor communicator. A number of problems can arise as a result of poor communication. Oftentimes, homeowners must rearrange their work schedules, family budgets and life events to accommodate the completion of their home projects. When a home professional fails to give adequate notice regarding something even as simple as the need to reschedule a mid-day appointment, it can be a big inconvenience — not to mention a big disappointment. What’s worse, not communicating regarding bigger issues like project delays, staffing delays and budget issues can leave customers feeling blindsided and, in some cases, even downright scammed.
The fix? Make it a point to clearly and consistently communicate with your customers regarding their home projects. Always ask how customers prefer to communicate with you — be it via email, phone or text message — and use that method to provide daily or weekly progress reports, as well as appointment confirmations and other updates.
3. Be unprofessional. You may be the best there is at what you do; but if you act unprofessionally, people will be reluctant to invite you into their homes. When a customer’s phone call is received with an abrupt “Yeah?” or a “Mike here” rather than a “Hello! Business Name, Mike speaking,” for example, a customer is left feeling unsure and unsettled from the start. Likewise, showing up late for appointments gives customers the impression that you don’t value their time and business. And being unpleasant or untidy is just plain rude — not to mention the single best way tarnish both customer relationships and your business’ reputation.
The fix? Always be polite, pleasant and professional. Always answer the phone in a courteous manner, and always make it clear to whom customers are speaking. Show up on time to meetings. And, when you’re corresponding with customers in person, be sure to smile, make eye contact and mind your manners. A pleasant attitude and a professional demeanor are some of the most effective tools you can use in building — and maintaining — a successful home services business.