Make Customer Service Your Competitive Advantage

I’m often surprised to see that very few people care about providing top-notch customer service.

It seems like all the energy is put into making the sale, and little to no effort is made in helping the customer once the product or service is delivered.

The Pool Example
A few years ago, we decided to build a swimming pool for our home. Given that we live in Texas, the pool comes in handy because at least half the year we experience warm temperatures. My wife and I spent a month or so getting proposals from pool companies, and eventually settled on one that offered the best package for the features we wanted.

Setting up the appointment with the architect was fast. In fact, they called us to make sure we could make the meeting. When we arrived, they had the simulation program fired up. Once we shared the items we wanted, the program would visually display them on a large TV screen mounted on the wall. It was cool to see the result based on the requirements we provided.

The contract called for us to pay in increments based on when milestones were met, such as when the plumbing and foundation were complete. We were assigned a project manager, Miguel, and he was at the house often. When he wanted to chat with us, he would arrive at the house at 7:00 a.m. to make sure he could find us. He asked for us to text him any time during the day, including weekends. When we did text with a question, a reply usually came within minutes. He was super-interested in making us happy.

The pool was complete only a couple weeks late, and this was due to big rains we had in San Antonio. We made the final payment, and it was now time to use the pool. For the next few months, the pool worked as promised – no problems. However, in September, the weather turned a little cold (like 80 degrees, which is considered cold in Texas), and we decided to heat the pool. Unfortunately, the heater was failing to work. In fact, we noticed a gas smell when the unit was triggered.

I called the project manager and other representatives from the pool company, and getting a call-back was nearly impossible. When I did reach the intended person, I was told that the problem was likely unrelated to their work. They asked me to call a plumber, and if that didn’t solve the issue, I should contact the electrical company. In other words, I was getting the run-around. It was obvious that once they received the final payment, they moved on to other customers who were ready to cut checks.

The Lesson
I understand that there is eagerness in making the sale; the excitement is obvious. However, I also know that companies who are focused on keeping the customer happy even after the product or serviced is delivered, are more likely to dominate the market. The pool company I described here was just so-so with follow-up work, but they are still in business. I wonder how much better they might perform if they were just as good with ongoing customer support as they were when trying to make the sale.

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