Builders share how they keep customers up to date on their project
Have you ever made a big-dollar purchase and found yourself frustrated at the service provider’s or contractor’s lack of communication? Communication is a fundamental component toward customer satisfaction, more referrals and goodwill.
Three industry veterans offer what works well for them — and what messaging paths to avoid — in the world of instantaneous communication.
Ken Chandler is vice president of operations at Presidential Pools in Phoenix and opts to keep in touch with customers via the Internet. “We used to reach out to customers with humans,” Chandler says. “Unfortunately, people get busy with other things and communication falls by the wayside.” He uses ProEdge Build for project management, which he says allows Presidential Pools to generate emails and communicate from the time customers engage through completion of a project.
Chandler’s process starts with a welcome email when a job starts, outlining the scope of the project. “That email addresses the milestones ahead over the next six to eight weeks until the pool is ready for digging: submitting the permit, when the CAD guys drop the pool and final processing,” Chandler says. “Before we started using ProEdge Build, each person handling one of those tasks was charged with updating the client. It wasn’t a very efficient use of time. We still have human interaction, but we’ve found that automating the bulk of customer communication, customer communication is strengthened and customer satisfaction is higher.”
Human contact is the rule, says Connie at Prestige Pools and Spas in St. Louis. So who is charged with that task? “I used to handle all of the customer communication during construction; that’s a lot to handle,” she says, adding that she now has an assistant who handles the initial customer outreach and outlines steps to come. Other staff members handle any questions surrounding permit issues, excavation, construction, electrical, service. “Those discussions are addressed by staffers who specialize in that area,” she says.
Connie says email is a customer communication tool she welcomes for several reasons: “When a question is sent via email, I can forward it just as asked to the right person for the right answer,” she says. “With email, I also have an accurate record of communication between us and the customer.”
Platinum Pools in Houston builds 400 pools a year. Owner Scott Waldo says technology is the biggest challenge when communicating with people. “People have zero patience; they want to know everything right that second,” Waldo says. “Sometimes they don’t understand why a response to a text or email didn’t happen within 30 seconds. The main thing is to first set expectations with the customer. Communication is the only pet peeve I have in this business. Whether someone shows up for work or does a good job is one thing, but we can call the customer every day and let them know what’s going on. That’s something we DO have control over.”
Scott also uses ProEdge Build; he switched after a grand experiment. “Last year, we hired three people and we launched a concierge program,” Waldo says. “Their sole job was to call customers with updates every single day. It didn’t work so well; communication among our scheduling department, supervisor and the concierge wasn’t fast enough internally. So we went back to having the construction supervisor call the customer every single day regardless of whether work is going on. Our strategy is to prevent the customer from feeling like they have to chase us. If the client feels they have to call us, then they feel they are managing the project…not us. With ProEdge, we make sure the information we want the client to hear is coming across. The expectations are communicated clearly and effectively.”
Every Friday, Waldo’s staff designers call clients and enter notes from the conversation into ProEdge. “They’re checking the client’s temperament,” Waldo says. “They’re making sure we’re hitting expectations. When projects are completed, a quality-assurance person calls the client to make sure they’re 100 percent happy with everything.”
Whatever your method of customer communication, customers want to know what their money is purchasing at each step in a project. Regular communication with your customer reflects your integrity. Make it your business priority.