What's your recommendation rate with your customers?
The contractor’s guide to improving customer satisfactionMay 11th, 2021 by
Contractors have to prioritize customer satisfaction. Period. Without happy customers, you’re destined to rack up negative reviews while seeing few (if any) organic referrals.
But it’s not always easy to know how to gauge customer satisfaction. And once you know how happy (or unhappy) your customers are, it can be a challenge to improve customer satisfaction.
In this article, we’re going to examine the importance of customer satisfaction, explore the benefits of putting your customers first, talk about how to measure customer satisfaction, and even show you how to improve customer satisfaction.
Customer satisfaction matters—a lot
Happy customers are loyal customers. On the other hand, unhappy customers can be a real issue.
If folks aren’t satisfied with the quality of your work or if they take issue with your customer service, they won’t use your services again. Not only that, but dissatisfied customers might even go so far as to leave negative reviews.
Granted, that’s not the end of the world. Handled well, a negative review can actually end up working in your favor. But it’s far better to avoid negative reviews altogether.
Basically, you have to keep your current customers happy if you want to win new customers.
What you get when you put customers first
The quality of your work plays a big role in the success of your business. There’s no doubt about that. In fact, that’s the first necessary ingredient in developing customer satisfaction—high-quality craftsmanship.
But customer service is important, too. In fact, putting your customers’ needs first gives your company several advantages.
Earn more money
Homeowners don’t make buying decisions based purely on price. In fact, 68% of customers surveyed say they’re willing to spend more if it means doing business with someone who provides better customer service.
Looking for an easy way to boost profitability? Improve your customer service. When your customers are happy, you can raise prices without worrying about losing jobs to cheaper contractors with lower customer satisfaction scores.
Great customer service keeps clients coming back for more. For contractors, that’s an important part of the sales cycle.
Think about it. You probably have several customers right now who have additional remodeling projects they’d like to tackle when they’re done with the current job. If your customer satisfaction is high, they’ll be likely to call you when they’re ready to get to work on the next remodel.
About of customers make their first purchase from a company based on that company’s reputation. That means 4 out of every 10 potential customers out there will buy from you (or not) based on your reputation.
What’s more, “ of customers share stories of good service, and 95% share bad experiences.” If you want to build a solid reputation, you need to deliver solid customer service.
Measuring customer satisfaction
Your perception of your customer service may be different than that of your customers. It’s hard to see your own services from your customer’s point of view. After all, you have bias. How could you not?
Not only that, but it can also be difficult to measure customer satisfaction from reviews alone. Depending on where you’re located, who your customers are, and how happy or unhappy they are, online reviews may not paint the whole picture.
What if upset folks are simply more likely to share? Or what if you have tons of satisfied customers, but few who are wowed so much that they take the time to leave a review?
You’ll get a more accurate impression of your true customer satisfaction levels by asking homeowners to complete surveys after each job.
These surveys should contain a variety of broad and pointed questions that target your company’s strengths and weaknesses. That way, you’ll know what you do well so you can keep doing it. You’ll also learn where you have some opportunities for improvement.
RELATED: The top 4 questions remodelers should ask customers after every job
7 ways to improve customer satisfaction
You’re never really done improving customer satisfaction. Even if your current customers are thrilled with the process of working with you, you need to stay on your toes.
Customer expectations change. The market shifts. And contractors who are responsive and flexible, adapting to their customers’ expectations, are the ones who consistently come out on top.
So how do you keep customer satisfaction high? Below are 7 ways to improve customer satisfaction.
1. Figure out what your customers really want
Do you know what your customers want? Are you sure?
What if you offer some of the services they’re looking for, but not all of them? Or, what if you’re currently focused on upgrades but your customers are more concerned with quick completion? Finally, what if the thing that matters most to your customers—more than options or speed—is communication?
If you don’t know what your customers really want, it’s going to be hard to make them happy. So take the time to learn what they really want.
(And if you have no idea how to do that, feel free to skip ahead to #6.)
2. Set expectations and exceed them
Every job should begin the same way—by setting expectations.
While home building, remodeling, and home services are the world you live in, your customers may have no idea what to expect. Rather than assuming they know what they’re buying, take the time to fill them in.
Talk about time frames, stages of work, deadlines, areas of their home you’ll need access to, how many workers will be present, and any other details they might need to know.
And when possible, don’t just meet expectations. Exceed them. If you can complete a job early, do it—and make sure the customer knows you finished early.
3. Build relationships with your customers
Every customer represents an opportunity for you to build a new relationship. Take the time to understand what work they want done … and why.
Building relationships with your customers will make you more approachable. It lays the groundwork for them to appreciate you, even before you start the job. But it also gives you valuable insight into what they hope they’ll get out of the project.
Plus, you may discover that most of your customers have similar values, desires and plans. If so, you can use that information to tailor your services and communication to better meet their needs.
4. Make employee satisfaction a priority
If your team is happy, they’ll be more likely to go above and beyond to keep your customers happy.
That’s not just a nice sentiment. There’s real science behind that claim. A 2019 study found that “workers are 13% more productive when happy.” And a Gallup study found that more engaged workers are more likely to “improve customer relationships.”
If your team members are happier, they’ll work harder. Plus, they’ll be more likely to actively help you improve customer satisfaction.
5. Take ownership when problems arise
Mistakes happen. That’s true for any business.
When you miss a deadline or fail to meet an expectation, don’t attempt to hide the issue. Instead, meet it head-on.
Proactively acknowledge the problem with your customer. Then go a step further, partnering with your customer to find a suitable solution. In doing so, you turn a negative into a positive.
And that makes a lasting impression.
6. Ask for customer feedback
The easiest way to find out what your customers think is to … ask them.
If you don’t know how happy your customers are right now, customer surveys are the easiest, fastest way to solve that problem. A well-structured, strategic customer survey can give you valuable insight into where your customers are coming from.
While this is something you could absolutely do on your own, we strongly recommend working with the professionals on this. That way, you can be sure you’re asking the best questions the right way.
7. Use customer feedback to improve service
Asking for feedback is one thing. Using it is something else.
Ready for a harsh truth? All the feedback won’t be positive. So be ready to hear about things your customers feel you could be doing better. And be ready to make some changes.
There’s no point in gathering customer feedback if you’re not going to use that feedback to improve the customer experience.
The bottom line
Customer satisfaction is a core business concept. That’s as true for contractors, home builders, remodelers and construction professionals as it is for any other business leader.
In this article, we’ve provided you with a solid overview of customer satisfaction, including why it matters and what you can do to improve it.
All that’s left is for you to start the process … and then watch your business grow.
KEEP READING: Turning customer feedback into an action plan