The Change Agent Blog:

Can Someone Please Just Help…

We sold our house in October and moved out to the country in November. Can I tell you how stressful it is to completely rehab a distressed house in 2 months? The last 6 months of 2012 were incredibly challenging as we readied our home to sell and looked for a property to buy. Getting a mortgage is almost impossible if you are self-employed and we encountered some of the worst customer service from banks and contractors. Talk about new stories I could tell from the platform…

Here are some lessons I learned firsthand about the importance of customer service:

  1. Just do your job! It’s increasingly difficult to find workers to show up and do what they are suppose to do. If you can’t, communicate with your customer as to why you won’t be there and when you will be. It’s all about communication.
  2. Do what you promise. If you say you are going to follow up, do it. Don’t give me excuses because I have a list of things that must be done after your part of the job is completed. Your failure to perform has a domino effect on many others. Understand the bigger picture role you play in your organization.
  3. Be a problem solver not a problem giver. Our first contractor would call me up with the latest problem(s) he ran into. I asked him: Isn’t it the general contractor’s job to come up with solutions rather than problems? When I asked “what would you do if this were your house?” His customary response was, “I told you from the beginning, that if this were my house I would have plowed it down and built a new house.” Tell me how was this helpful?
  4. Don’t take your customer for granted. I fired our first bank, general contractor, electrician, and drywall company and still got the rehab job done in 8 weeks. Don’t think your customers won’t fire you if you can’t deliver what you promised. With the slow economy, there is always someone else who can take your place.

The Result: While we are still finishing the interior of our “new” home (and haven’t even touched the outside), we really love how everything is turning out. We are learning patience with the process and we love living in the woods! What you do on your job is important. Don’t underestimate the impact you have on your customers – you can make or break us.

In addition, I just wanted to apologize for my lack of consistency in writing this blog/newsletter. Now that we are settling in to our new place and our boys are juniors in college (and less in need of my assistance), my goal is to be more consistent in writing in 2013.

After our experience with such a lack of customer service, one of my other goals this year is to develop highly-customized on-line customer service training with live video broken into smaller segments that can be viewed in departmental meetings or individually (with tracking of attendance and automatic follow up). I want to incorporate “live” clips from your actual customers (think YouTube) so training participants get a “real view” from their customers. This type of training will be more time and cost effective! Let me know if you’d like more information for your organization.

Make it a great week!

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