Isn't it shocking the level of customer of service we typically receive from businesses here in Northern Ireland? Take the 'Home Improvement' market for example, more specifically the people out there offering their skilled services to assist you in your upgrades or repairs around your home. I think I've phoned roughly 4 local electricians, 5 Joiners, and 3 different gardeners to just get work done, only to be let down by most of them. Yet, it's only the older guys that seem to have shown up. That generation that knows what a hard days graft is all about. Those hardy few that will be there when they say they'll be there.
My late father was of that generation. A stereotypical man who just simply knew how to do EVERYTHING. Not only was he a dab hand around his own home, but he would be often called upon to help with other people's homes too. I remember he had a particular set of clothes he'd wear, worn jeans, checked cloth shirt, a trusty pencil, and tape measure. I wish I was half as manually capable as he was, I'd be a lot less reliant on others to do what I need to do that's for sure!
To be fair, we do have an amazing plumber on hand. No hassle, no mess, straight and honest pricing. He did charge me for coming to turn my thermostat up once, when the house wouldn't warm up following a warm summer, but we'll not go into that particular embarrassing story... I'll never forget the look he gave me, not my proudest moment.
My most recent exposure to the lackluster trades was when attempting to get our offices cleaned. A quick Google search for local commercial cleaning companies revealed that the choice was a little short to say the least (an opportunity there if ever there was one). I set about arranging for the first company to come and give us a quote for what we needed. A date was arranged (no specific time), date comes round, no show. No reason offered nor given. I did attempt to call this company back but was diverted to a residential home voice mail service. Having wasted a few days, I moved on to company number two. As before, a date was arranged, again, no time specified, and again... No show.
The next day an email was received to say they were sorry they didn't appear on the date they'd suggested. They then asked for me to give them an idea of what it was we wanted cleaning so they could give us a price, which sort of irked me a little because I don't know how these things are estimated. I refused to play and set about replying to their (Yahoo Domain) email address to tell them that it was unprofessional not to show up to a business appointment.
The email bounced.
Which was okay (well, not professional obviously), as I knew it would be delivered, because my first attempt to contact them had also bounced. I used the same email address published on their website.
What annoys me about companies with such low customer service levels is the manner in which they answer their business phone, usually with a basic "Hello?" Like you've called them at home and you've interrupted them. Wouldn't it be better to announce who you are and who you represent if you're taking business calls? Am I being too picky on this?
It just gives off a more professional feel when you answer the phone in a business manner, which these two previous business owners fail to comprehend.
Vacuum CleanerA demonstration of how hard it is to get anything done in Northern Ireland.
Cleaning company number three.
The telephone was answered in a professional and courteous manner (tick), a brief Q&A on who we were, where we were, and what we were after. Following which a date was set for them to come and see us, with a time! Imagine, making an appointment with an actual a time! I knew then we were on to a winner.
Sure enough, (nearly) on time (it's a tough place to get parked where I work) the arrived, gave us a great breakdown of their services and what they were offering and a contract was agreed, there and then.
I've worked in sales for getting on for 32 years (I started when I was 13, do the math) and I've some simple strategies that will get your business further ahead than any other amateur in your operating space will ever grasp.
There are plenty of other 'tips' I could throw in there, but I would say those four are the basics. It's what I've built my photography business on (that and my other unique selling points, which I'll not bore you with here), you'll see the feedback I get on my Guestbook Page (check it out if you haven't already done so), it's a testimony to the relationship I have with my clients.
It would be nice, just for a change, for business owners, restaurant managers, retail managers and anyone else out there just trying to do a good job, to take onboard some of these basic elements of customer service, we'd then find we all have a better experience as customers, and they, in turn, would have a better return on their profits from repeat and word of mouth referrals.