GuildQuality's Blueprint for Service Excellence


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Becoming a service excellence leader takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but it's a goal well worth accomplishing. Not only does delivering great service and exceeding client expectations lead to marketing benefits like positive online reviews and an increase in referral business, but it's also a key component to the long-term success of your business.

This presentation showcases strategies your team can use to enhance your relationships with clients, and ultimately earn the reputation of a service excellence leader.

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  • Hi all - thank you for inviting me to speak with you today and share what it takes to become a service excellence leader. My name is Rebekah Taylor and I’ve been working for GuildQuality for over 2 years. Some of you might be familiar with GuildQuality, we recently spoke at the NARI Fall Summit in Chicago. For those of you who aren’t familiar, GuildQuality works to help remodelers, home services contractors, and home builders gather authentic feedback from their customers, measure their performance, and promote their quality. Being a part of the GuildQuality team has fortunately led me to work with home pros who are focused on excellence. Working with these companies has taught me that customer service is the line in the sand that truly separates excellence from average. My goal today is to share some of our member’s tactics, best practices we’ve discovered, and ultimately help you build your own blueprint for service excellence.
  • First things first, what impact does your delivery of customer service even have on your business? Well we did a study with our own members and found a correlation between customer satisfaction and a company’s ability to stay in business. We saw that companies with a recommendation rate above 95% had a 1/50 chance of going out of business, while companies with a recommendation rate below 80% had a 1/5 chance of going out of business. 1/50 vs. 1/5. The difference between these company’s all boils down to how well their customers are taken care of.
  • Furthermore, our industry doesn’t have the best customer service reputation. Nationally, only 65% of customers would recommend their contractor. If we go back to that 1/50 vs. 1/5 stat shared in the previous slide, that means a lot of home pros could be facing ultimately shutting their doors due to poor customer service. You’re probably thinking to yourself, well how do a few bad customer experiences really drive a business to close? Consider this, hoards of unhappy clients leaving negative online reviews about your business. Homeowners are doing their due diligence about your business, and what they find, especially online, carries influence. A lot of negative, unanswered feedback about your business will send them running for the hills.
  • In fact, a recent study by ZenDesk shares that 88% of people are influenced by online customer service reviews. Now with the help of social media and online review sites, a customer’s experience with your company can go viral. That’s why the best home pros understand and respect the influence their customers have on the long-term success of their business. They’re taking the time to develop quality relationships and focusing on delivering exceptional service worth tweeting about.
  • A few months ago, GuildQuality did a case study with the folks at Normandy Remodeling. For those of you who might be unfamiliar, Normandy Remodeling has been in business for more than 30 years and they’ve earned the title of Chicago’s most trusted remodeler. One of the reasons they’re considered most trusted is their ability to cultivate strong relationships with clients by focusing on service. If you do some research online about the company you’ll find reviews from their happy clients as well as responses from attentive team members who monitor the company’s online reputation and respond to any concerns. I’d encourage you to follow their lead. Your company’s reputation does not have to be the elephant in the room. Mastering today’s reputation economy and earning recognition as a service excellence leader is actually pretty simple; deliver quality craftsmanship and service to every customer and prospective customer you meet. If you exceed their expectations, they will share their experience with neighbors, friends, family, and the online world.
  • At GuildQuality, we’ve uncovered 4 keys that’ll help your business successfully do that. I’m going to elaborate on each of these during today’s presentation, but these are all vital to the development of your company’s service excellence blueprint.
  • We’ll start off with company culture. We talk a lot about this topic at GuildQuality as we really consider it to be the driving force behind a company’s delivery of customer service. While team happy hours and company outings are fun and certainly drive camaraderie, they don’t define your company culture. To find what really drives the values and beliefs of your team, you need to dig deeper and pay attention to the things that spur passion and motivate your team to work to their full potential.To be a service excellence leader in the residential construction industry, quality has to be one of the things that inspires the way your company operates. Ultimately as the leader of your business, you set the tone for your company culture. If you set the expectation that you’re passionate about quality and achieving success through service excellence, your team will follow suit.
  • The first step in developing a culture of quality at your company is identifying what the core values are. Is always doing the right thing something that’s important to your business? What about never sacrificing quality craftsmanship? Your company’s core values should serve as a road map to help your team work together and navigate through their decisions.Ensure all roads lead to service excellence and educate your staff on the impact they all have on your customer’s experience. From there you and your staff can strategize how to improve service as a united team. Onboarding new members to your team is critical to your company maintaining it’s culture once it’s been established. We’ll touch on this a little bit more on the next slide, but remember to take your time in the hiring process and make sure you’re finding people who are a good cultural fit. Skills are important, but they can be taught. Commitment to quality and excellence is something that the right candidate should be radiating with.Empowering your employees and encouraging communication fit nicely together. It’s critical that the lines of communication are open between you, your team, and your customers. Your team interacts with your customers daily. They have insight into things you need to know about. Show them you value their feedback and take time to listen to what’s happening on the front lines. That communication breeds trust and ultimately you want the members of your team to feel your support and you want them to feel empowered to be innovative and accountable. Consistency is another key element to a company’s cultural success. Consistency breeds credibility. In order to garner culture adoption among your team, it’s important that you be consistent with what quality should look like for your company and how to carry out your values. If you and your team consistently deliver quality, your reputation will reflect that.Don’t forget to celebrate the successes. You run a mile a minute, but sometimes the best way to reinforce your company culture is to pause and celebrate what your team is doing right!
  • As previously mentioned, hiring and onboarding is incredibly important to watch closely. You need to grow your business while keeping your company’s service excellence focused culture intact. We hosted a webinar about company culture featuring three of our remodeler members, CARNEMARK design + build, Classic Remodeling, and Jackson Design & Remodeling and they shared some great tips on hiring. First tip, create a hiring panel. Band together your team members to provide input on hiring each new employee and training them. Never underestimate the power of a personality assessment. Companies spanning a variety of industries are relying on predictive tests to help catch a glimpse into what a candidate’s character is like and whether they would connect well with the company’s other team members and overall culture. Jonas Carnemark, owner of CARNEMARK uses a DISC assessment to get a better grasp on a candidate’s personality and it helps him to better prepare questions to ask during the interview process. Looking at the infographic on this slide, it shares that 46% of new hires leave a company after the first year. Do you think they would do that if they felt well equipped and supported by their team members? No, the number could dramatically be reduced if new employees were onboardedproperly and knew what was expected of them culturally. That’s why it’s so important for new team members to understand the company’s goals and values from the very beginning. Once a new employee has had the culture talk, instill accountability early on and lay out what their responsibilities are, what they need to know, and who to learn it from.
  • The best way to gauge whether or not your culture of service excellence is sticking your team is to simply ask your clients. If you’re hearing more complaints than compliments, that’s definitely a sign that not everyone is on the same service excellence bandwagon. We understand that whether or not your clients are truly satisfied with your service can be difficult to know at times, people are natural conflict avoiders and may not always be willing to voice a complaint. Part of becoming a service excellence leader hinges on gathering unbiased feedback from clients, learning from that feedback, and ultimately setting goals for your business.
  • So how do you evaluate the satisfaction levels of your clients before it’s too late? Using a third-party service to conduct client surveys on your behalf is a great way to establish open communication with clients and capture candid responses. I know surveys have a bad rep. Companies across all industries have caught on to the fact that feedback from their customers is an asset to their success, so they’ve begun surveying in a big way, and in every communication channel possible. Fortunately home pros have a unique advantage when it comes to surveying customers. Because homeowners have invested a considerable amount of money toward their new home or home improvement project, and the project directly impacts their quality of life, they are more emotionally invested and motivated to share feedback.Once you begin surveying and gathering authentic feedback, you can begin to identify key metrics like your satisfaction benchmark. Most of our members evaluate their performance based on the percentage of clients that are willing to recommend their business to others. As mentioned earlier, your likely to recommend rate carries a lot of weight on your reputation as a service excellence leader. Your benchmark should be 95%, where you can write off 1 out of 20 customers.After determining your customer satisfaction benchmark, you’ll want to continue to monitor your company’s performance. Review each survey response you receive and compare results to other client feedback. Look for trends in aspects that you’re excelling at and promote those, look for items that could use some improvement and begin work to improve them. Reviewing survey feedback and analyzing trends in your company’s performance holds you and your team accountable and empowers you to deliver a better experience to your clients. Beyond your company, do some research on the performance of others in your area within the same industry.
  • Once you begin identifying your company’s strengths and weaknesses, you can begin to establish viable goals for your business. Tim Faller from Remodeling Magazine sums up goal setting best with the acronym SMART. Setting SMART goals in 2014 means that goals for your business need to be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-oriented. If you want to improve your relationship with clients, a SMART goal would be to improve your company’s likely to recommend score by 5% within the next 12 months. Your plan to attain that goal could include improving communication with your customers, and developing a follow up process to gather customer feedback. So many factors go into a company’s likely to recommend rate, that you may also want to break things down further into specific goals that apply to different departments. For example, a SMART goal for your production crew could be to increase their clean and safe score by 5% next quarter. Cleanliness and safety are huge influencers on likely to recommend. Improvements in this area will ultimately help you achieve your goal of increasing your likely to recommend score. What you’re seeing on the screen is a report powered by GuildQuality, which simplifies how you track and measure your performance progress. Our members use this to stay up to date on where their business is in relation to achieving their goals.
  • Continuing to nurture your relationship with customers is a broader goal for your business to pursue. Your relationship with customers shouldn’t end right after they sign a contract, or when you’ve completed their project. If you’re wise, your relationships with new and past clients will always be ongoing.
  • The cardinal rule of nurturing customer relationships, is effectively communicating. When it comes to your customers, silence isn’t golden. Concerns can crop up throughout a remodeland not be shared with you because a client might feel that their concerns are not that significant. In fact, according to SalesForce, less than 25% of customers complain when they have an issue. That’s a dangerous number, as fewer complaints can actually mean a silent groundswell of unhappy clients who won’t work with you again or refer you to anyone. If you’re hearing crickets from a client who might be less than satisfied, you have a 75% chance of losing their revenue. Luckily, this can be avoided with a little dedication to communication and customer service.Encourage your customers to come to you with any concerns so you can find a solution that works well for them. A customer who communicates their grievances with you can actually benefit your business more than a close-mouthed client. They help you identify problems, you have a chance to make improvements to your process, and resolving a customer complaint can actually end up earning you a loyal client. Be proactive and communicate with your clients on all critical aspects of their project and provide progress updates. No one will accuse you of over-sharing details. If you really want to get honest with your clients, we mentioned earlier the benefit of using a third-party to survey. You can gather feedback from them on their experience working with your company. Authentic responses about your business is invaluable. Not only does it enable you to better understand your existing clients, it also provides you with an opportunity to improve things you otherwise would not have known needed improvement. According to Salesforce, it costs at least 5x as much to win a new customer as it does to keep an old one. Cultivating a strong relationship with your clientsis worth it.
  • Nowadays communicating with customers isn’t limited to meetings in person or over the phone. Client communication is also very much happening on social media. The concept of social customer service is something that’s being rapidly adopted by companies across all industries, including home pros. It’s important as your company begins to engage with clients via social media that you develop a strategy for responses. Be an active listener online when it comes to what’s being said about your brand. Are your customers happily posting photos of their finished projects and referring your company to friends, or are they posting about the mess left behind after construction and the grief of dealing with billing issues? See what’s out there, and decide what your communication strategy should be.As a best practice ensure that whoever is responsible for monitoring, posting content, and responding to clients, strongly understands your business and feels comfortable asking for help if the answer to a client’s question isn’t apparent. The amount of time between when a customer posts a question, and when their question is answered is also important. At GuildQuality, we strive to respond to questions within24 hours. If a solution to a customer’s question isn’t something that can take a day to answer, post a progress update to let them know you’re actively working toward an answer. It’s also critical to know when a customer’s question should be taken offline. If the answer to their question includes specific details about their project, like pricing for example, you may want to consider politely responding that you’ll give them a call to discuss. When approaching negative comments, avoid getting defensive. This is a golden opportunity for your company. Treating unhappy customers with compassion and finding a solution to their complaints will transform your company into a customer service leader in the eyes of existing and prospective customers.Another challenge is keeping clients engaged on your social media channels. If you’re finding a lack of engagement from clients or prospective clients on your company’s social media pages, take a look at the type of content you’re posting. Would it be appealing and interesting to anyone outside of your company? Customer reviews, project photos, demonstration videos and helpful articles are always popular.
  • We all want to separate ourselves from the pack and stand tall as the leaders of our industry. The truth is, that for home pros, promoting your unique qualities can sometimes be difficult to accomplish especially online. Delivering “A game” service to customers is the driving force behind the positive reputations of many home pros. But these service excellence leaders also take things a step further and empower (not incentivize) their loyal and raving customer base to go online and share about their experience.
  • Your clients truly are your marketing super heroes. No sales and marketing team can sell your service better than your customers can. You want to make it as simple as possible for your evangelical customers to promote their experience with your company. Identify your raving fans and empower them to talk with neighbors, friends, and family about their project. These clients are your brand ambassadors. Supply them with your business cards, web url and especially social media links to make sharing easy.
  • There are 3things prospective customers look for when choosing a contractor. They search to see if they have authentic reviews from customers, evidence of quality craftsmanship, and client satisfaction. We encourage our clients to publish their customer survey feedback on the web. GuildQuality makes this easy, but even if you don’t use us, make sure to have updated testimonials on your website, share your average recommendation rate, and lead with a quality message on your website. Just be aware that everyone is talking a big game about quality, so you need to be able to prove it.
  • Customer reviews, and client feedback in general, allow homeowners to get a glimpse into what it would be like to work with your company. Home pros who are delivering quality to their customers and gathering their feedback can leverage that to differentiate their business online. Take All American Exteriors for example. The family owned Atlanta replacement contractor began surveying their customers using GuildQuality and as a result, received authentic responses and reviews about their business. Those responses and reviews were then pushed to their unique online GuildQuality profile page, and their investment in gathering customer feedback began to pay off.“The month we joined we ended up earning a $75,000 project because of the customer comments and reviews on our GuildQuality member profile page. Our customer did a Google search, found our profile page, and felt like we were credible and quality-minded professionals,” Thomas Williams, Co-Owner of All American Exteriors said. “I think the information helps to set us apart from other contractors. It shows prospective customers that we’re professional, we care about the work we do, and we like having great relationships with our customers.”All American Exteriors isn’t the exception to the rule. There are many in the residential construction industry, and in our community of quality, who have earned business through being an open-book and displaying their customer feedback.
  • If you haven’t Googled your company name, go out and do it. Google your name and your name plus reviews. Make sure that customers can find a body of evidence that supports your commitment to quality. You can see what pops up when you do a search for Anthony Renard Remodeling in Houston. On page one you see their presence on a variety of review and social media sites including their GuildQuality profile page with a 5 star rating and 15 reviews.Reviews are a big deal, as mentioned earlier they influence 88% of people’s purchase decisions. GuildQuality can capture them on the fly for you during the survey process, but you need to have a strategy to identify your happy clients and encourage them to post their feedback on other review sites. Google is the big one, but you also want to pay attention to Yelp, Kudzu, and other sites. Customer reviews help differentiate your business, and as we saw in All American Exteriors’ case, establish credibility. Reviews also have an impact on SEO. Whether they’re good or bad, when reviews are appropriately formatted, search engines will recognize them and weight them with more importance. Google might say, I can see this review, so I’m going to return this in the search results more frequently.Generating new and authentic customer reviews consistently can also help ensuring your company maintains a strong search return. Gathering authentic customer reviews is not difficult if you’re focused on quality. Never fake reviews, or enter them on behalf of your clients. I’d also caution you to stay away from offering incentives. It ultimately takes away from the authenticity and credibility.
  • Even service excellence leaders deal with negative reviews from time to time, it’s not necessarily what’s said but how you respond that matters. If you exude caring in your response, offer to speak with the client, offer your cell phone, explain the situation in a non-defensive way… you can turn a negative into a positive. No one expects perfection, what they do expect is customer care.
  • Before I wrap up, I want to recap some of things I’ve touched on and share a few more tips that’ll help you as you develop your company’s blueprint for service excellence. As mentioned, your company culture can impact customer service significantly. Develop a company culture focused on delivering the best client experience possible. Communicate with your clientsCommunication builds trust with customers. Provide your clients with your contact information, or appoint them a point of contact at your company they can reach out to with any questions. Be transparentAvoid causing distrust among clients and be transparent on everything from pricing, products, and schedule. Honesty can go a long way!Set realistic expectations Never underestimate the power of under promising and over delivering. Work with clients to set attainable goals. Providing great service is contingent on meeting and exceeding client expectations. Add valueBring value to your customers by providing the most efficient and cost effective solutions. Make it your company’s mission to go the extra mile. Share updatesKeep your clients in the loop on all critical aspects of their project and provide progress updates. No one will accuse you of over-sharing.Measure your satisfactionIdentify how well your company pleases clients. Survey your customers to begin gathering feedback on your performance. Review all responses with your team. Own up to mistakesEven the best residential construction professionals make mistakes. The way they recognize and learn from those mistakes make them great. If your company makes a mistake, own up to it and make it right for your customers. Show your appreciation Show gratitude for your customers by continuing to nurture the relationship even after the project is complete. Send a thank you note, or email over relevant articles that can help them maintain their home. Empower your customersEmpower your clients to talk with neighbors, friends, and family about the experience they had with your company. Think of these customers as your brand ambassadors. Supply them with your business cards, web url, and especially social media links to make sharing easy.
  • One commonality in all of the info shared about becoming a service excellence leader and improving your business is relying on customer feedback. GuildQuality offers a complimentary customer service assessment that can help you see where you stand with clients. We’ll survey 20 of your clients at no charge and delivery their responses to you in real-time. If you’re interested in experiencing our service first-hand, visit our site and sign up.
  • GuildQuality's Blueprint for Service Excellence

    1. 1. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence Rebekah Taylor, Sales Executive at GuildQuality
    2. 2. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence Why is quality service important for your business? Recommendation rate above 95% = 1/50 chance of going out of business Recommendation rate below 80% = 1/5 chance of going out of business
    3. 3. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence Nationally, only 65% of customers would recommend their contractor. Source: Qualified Remodeler
    4. 4. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence 88% of people are influenced by online customer service reviews when making a buying decision. ZenDesk
    5. 5. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence Don’t Allow Bad Customer Service to be the Elephant in the Room
    6. 6. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence 4 Keys to Becoming a Service Excellence Leader Company Culture Goals and Metrics Nurturing Customer Relationships Promoting Your Quality
    7. 7. Company Culture
    8. 8. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence Service Excellence Starts With Company Culture • Identify the core values of your business. • Educate your staff on the impact they have on a customer’s experience. • Take the time to properly onboard new members of your team. • Empower your employees. • Encourage communication. • Be consistent. • Celebrate success.
    9. 9. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence Hiring and Onboarding with Service Excellence in Mind • Develop a hiring panel. • Personality Assessment • Introduce core values. • Hold new hires accountable. “I go through our mission, vision, core values, and share with our new team member what we’re all about and where we’re going.” -Jonas Carnemark, Owner of CARNEMARK design + build
    10. 10. Goals & Metrics
    11. 11. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence What’s your likely to recommend rate? • Survey and open the door to communication. • Determine your satisfaction benchmark. • Keep an eye on the trends.
    12. 12. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence Pinpointing Your Company’s Customer Satisfaction Goals
    13. 13. Nurturing Customer Relationships
    14. 14. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence Open the Doors to Communication with Clients Less than 25% of customers complain when they have an issue. Source: SalesForce • Customers who communicate concerns help your business identify problems early on. • Be available and check in throughout your customer’s project. • Using a third-party to gather feedback during the job can help to capture more candid communication.
    15. 15. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence Your Clients and Social Media • Monitor what’s trending about your business. • Embrace social customer service and respond to customers. • Share compelling content.
    16. 16. Promoting Your Quality
    17. 17. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence Your Clients are your Marketing Super Heroes
    18. 18. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence Encourage Clients to Share About their Experience
    19. 19. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence Earning Business from Customer Feedback “The month we joined we ended up earning a $75,000 project because of the customer comments and reviews on our GuildQuality member profile page. Our customer did a Google search, found our profile page, and felt like we were credible and quality-minded professionals.” -Thomas Williams, Owner of All American Exteriors
    20. 20. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence The Power of Authentic Customer Reviews • Compelling marketing tool. • Shows credibility. • Boosts SEO. Gather Reviews the Right Way • Empower, don’t offer incentives. • Don’t post fake reviews or post on behalf of your customers.
    21. 21. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence Tips for Avoiding Negative Customer Reviews
    22. 22. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence 1) Create a Culture of Quality 2) Communicate with your Clients 3) Be Transparent 6) Share Updates 4) Set Realistic Expectations 7) Measure your Satisfaction 5) Add Value 8) Own Up to Mistakes 9) Show your Appreciation 10) Empower your Customers
    23. 23. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence We’ll Survey 20 Clients at No Charge • Associate your company with quality-minded pros. • Measure how well your company is performing with clients. • Earn recognition, both online and in the home, for your quality.
    24. 24. GuildQuality’s Blueprint for Service Excellence Q&A