Building Loyalty With Strong Customer Service

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As companies try to stay competitive in the wake of the recession, customer service cannot be
forgotten. Cultivating strong customer loyalty can strengthen a business. This is especially true for
service providers, including HVAC contractors, electrical contractors, landscapers, and remodelers.
In addition to developing customer service programs and values amongst employees, companies can
streamline the collection of information using technology that integrates service operations and accounting
to provide easy access to schedules, performance budget vs. actual, and customer histories.

Learn more at the http://na.sage.com/sage-construction-and-real-estate

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Building Loyalty With Strong Customer Service

  1. 1. Building Loyalty With Strong Customer Service
  2. 2. Table of ContentsIntroduction.......................................................................................................... 3Communication Best Practices............................................................................. 3Improve Customer Service With Technology......................................................... 4Addressing Customer Complaints........................................................................ 4Gathering Feedback............................................................................................. 4Conclusion........................................................................................................... 5 2Building Loyalty With Strong Customer Service
  3. 3. IntroductionIn the past, many consumers would use the same contractors (HVAC contractors, electricalcontractors, landscapers, painters, etc.) because they were familiar with their work and hadestablished a relationship with them. However, recent economic pressures have increased thecompetition as consumers and larger contractors begin to shop around for the lowest-pricedservices instead of staying loyal to companies they have worked with in the past. In order to keepcustomers loyal in this competitive market and differentiate themselves from the competition, serviceproviders need to provide stellar customer service that will keep people coming back. The righttechnology can provide contractors with the information they need to offer the best service–fromhaving a customer history within easy reach to ordering the right parts for a repair–and can also helpoptimize service operations.

Communication Best PracticesAn integral element of customer service is treating customers with respect and making clientsfeel confident in the service provider’s skills. Listening is essential. All service providers should betrained to listen to customers’ concerns and respond with an honest assessment of the problem. Acompany can encourage good communication skills by hanging a set of core values or principles onthe wall that features the organization’s customer service ideals. Employee customer service trainingshould be intensive, and can include on-the-job demonstrations and written materials. Gone are thedays when a company could afford to have service providers who were skilled at their jobs, buthad a bad attitude and treated customers poorly1. Additionally, companies can create a list ofphrases that are acceptable and others that are not (for example, the phrase “I’d be happy to” canbe listed as a better option than “Sure”)2.Knowledge of the customer is also important, and using technology to store information oncustomer history will ensure that service of the account is well-informed. Sophisticated businessmanagement software can provide phone operators with a customer’s history and job informationquickly so they have everything they need to successfully handle any questions or complaints.Furthermore, it is important to be honest with the customer. Companies that don’t put customerservice first may promise that a job will be done sooner than is feasible in order to land the jobor they may estimate the cost of a project as higher than necessary. Even though the economyis tough, this is not the time to cut corners. Eventually the customer will realize the project is notcompleted on time or that the price was higher than it should have been, and they will go elsewherein the future. The company may have made a little extra profit on one project, but it has lost theopportunity to gain a new regular customer3. To help avoid this type of situation, technology can beused to manage project changes, track project schedules and track budgets vs. actual costs. 31 http://www.inc.com/magazine/20100901/how-to-deliver-great-customer-service.html2 http://www.inc.com/magazine/20110301/a-customer-service-makeover_pagen_3.html3 http://www.entrepreneur.com/sales/customerservicecolumnistsydneybarrows/article207182.htmlBuilding Loyalty With Strong Customer Service
  4. 4. Improve Customer Service With TechnologyCompanies cannot use the excuse that they forgot about a job, lost the invoice or didn’t understandthe request and expect to retain loyal customers. Instead of ending a customer call and realizing thatthey misplaced important information about the job, service providers can integrate technology intotheir operations that will help them keep track of job details and client history3.Using a dispatch board system, such as those included in Sage 100 Contractor or Sage TimberlineEnterprise, companies can easily manage their employees’ schedules, making sure that no customeris forgotten. These systems offer features that allow dispatchers to pair technicians with the rightskills to the right job and ensure that the necessary parts and inventory are ordered so that job canbe taken care of on the first visit, instead of making customers wait for them to come in. Dispatchboards can facilitate communication with technicians in the field who may need guidance about ajob they’re working on. 
Addressing Customer Complaints 
Being proactive is the best way to handle customer complaints. If a technician in the field noticesthat the customer may be dissatisfied or concerned, he or she should ask if anything is wrong before thecustomer has to complain. This lets customers know that the company cares about their satisfaction. Itcan also save the company time if the concern is addressed right away, instead of receiving a customercomplaint a few days later and sending a technician out for the second time. Remote access to SageTimberline Enterprise allows technicians to use the system from the field and address issues in a moretimely fashion. Managers should also take the time to follow up with customers about their experiences4.After addressing a complaint, technicians can record the details of the job for future reference intechnology systems like Sage 100 Contractor and Sage Timberline Enterprise.When a customer calls in with a problem, train the phone operators to stay calm regardless ofhow agitated the customer may be. Even if the company appears to be in the right, start off byapologizing and accepting responsibility. Next, the company should make some offer to fix theproblem. Always address customers by name, and repeat the issue back to them to show that itis understood, and that the company cares about their interests3. 
Gathering FeedbackDon’t stop at addressing customer complaints. One complaint may indicate a larger issue that thecompany can fix by making structural or operational improvements. Developing questionnaires andsurveys can help provide insight into what customers value and what they want to see changed4.In addition, reports can be developed using Sage software in order to flag problem areas within aservice operation. 43 http://www.entrepreneur.com/sales/customerservicecolumnistsydneybarrows/article207182.html4 http://www.inc.com/guides/improve-your-companys-customer-service.htmlBuilding Loyalty With Strong Customer Service
  5. 5. When creating a customer survey, businesses should start out by deciding what they want to learnand how they will address the findings. If customers are unhappy, companies can’t ignore it. In orderto stay in tune with customers, companies should try to conduct a survey at least once or twicea year. Through a survey, a business can measure company loyalty, assess the effectiveness ofcustomer service and develop new initiatives. Make sure most questions are specific and targeted,while including a few open-ended questions that allow customers to bring up any concerns that wereleft out of the survey5.Conclusion
As companies try to stay competitive in the wake of the recession, customer service cannot beforgotten. Cultivating strong customer loyalty can strengthen a business. This is especially true forservice providers, including HVAC contractors, electrical contractors, landscapers and remodelers.In addition to developing customer service programs and values amongst employees, companies canstreamline the collection of information using technology that integrates service operations and accountingto provide easy access to schedules, performance budget vs. actual, and customer histories. 
 55 http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/08/how-to-write-a-customer-survey.htmlBuilding Loyalty With Strong Customer Service
  6. 6. Sage15195 NW Greenbrier PkwyBeaverton, OR 97006-5701800-628-6583www.SageCRE.com©2012 Sage Software, Inc. All rights reserved. Sage, the Sage logos, and the Sage product and servicenames mentioned herein are registered trademarks or trademarks of Sage Software, Inc., or its affiliatedentities. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. 12-02035 05/12

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