Customer satisfaction in the construction industry has reached an all-time high in recent years of 82% compared to the previous 77%. But defining customer service in construction isn’t as straightforward as you would believe and ensuring high service, with quality materials, can be more complicated than in other industries.
Essentially, you still need to deliver on the promise you made when quoting for the contract, ensuring each aspect of your work and how you and/or your team and subcontractors provide the service. By definition, customer service within construction is;
“the Project Owner’s perception of the degree to which the Project requirements have been fulfilled”.
So where do you go from here, and how should you improve your customer service for all round satisfaction throughout any project?
While the phrase “the customer is always right” is outdated and often false on many levels, that doesn’t mean you should take charge and walk over any suggestions the customer might have for the work they require. While they may not know a lot about the industry or how to bring things to life, they will still have ideas and suggestions, and instead of ignoring them and brushing them off, listen to what they have to say and what it is they want then talk them through their options for this, how it would work if it’s possible and what this would look like completed, if you have better alternative suggestions you can give them these on top of their wishes so they have all the information to hand to make the right decision. If they can visualise it, they can understand it better and know the implications in the future.
Use Quality Materials
It goes without saying that cutting corners on materials can lead to a poorer finish, lower satisfaction rates and a higher risk of failure, problems or issues down the line. And while margins are undoubtedly tight in the industry, taking chances with untested or unknown parts or those not finished to the highest spec can be a bad decision all around. Choose HVOF for metal fixtures and fittings for a longer lifespan, higher quality and improved performance for your parts; avoid substandard products or untested parts that can cause problems down the line. You can still remain competitive without cutting corners on material costs.
Don’t Over Promise
It can be tempting to beat your competitors to the post and win the job, but failing to deliver on your promises, missing deadlines, subpar quality finishes and using untrained workers can be detrimental to the completed work and your reputation.
Be realistic about what you can offer and why, and give yourself a reasonable timeframe – “in time, not on time” Your experience should be able to determine this for you and be honest at every step of the process. While you may not have the most exciting offer, a realistic one with a job completed well and on time is preferable for every customer.
One of the main complaints in the construction industry is that someone goes back on their word or that communication is poor. If there will be issues, complications or extensions to work, be honest and tell the customer. If it will take weeks because you are extremely busy and not the one week you quoted, tell them not to flake out or rush the work to get it done on time and below standards. Suppose there are issues with the works, delays on parts or supplies, or you need to adjust the quote, tell them right away instead of hiding it or leaving it as a nasty surprise in the final invoice.
While the customer is rarely right, never mind always right, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be professional and offer them exceptional service. These days people are quick to complain about anything and everything, while compliments aren’t as forthcoming. Be professional and courteous at all times, talk to the customer, make them feel included and answer any questions or concerns with honesty and sincerity. While you might not be a miracle worker, by being honest and open with them and offering a polite and efficient service, they will be more at ease with you and be less likely to find fault if they feel heard and understood throughout the process.
Customer service is not as straightforward in construction as it is in other industries, but that doesn’t mean it’s less important, far from it; it just means that you need to know how you can make the best impression the first time and through the job to help customers feel confident they have picked the right person for the job.