Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Three Tools for Your Customer Service Tool belt

Here are 3 tools that every builder should have in their tool belt of comebacks when things go wrong with the new home buyer. These three tools should also be in every factory rep's tool belt as well.


Acknowledge – Apologize – Act
Acknowledge the customer’s complaint. Even if it’s something they caused and are blaming your for it. Doing this first instead of getting into a debate will usually defuse the problem long enough to get the customer calmed down.

Apologize for whatever seems to be wrong from the customer’s viewpoint. If the customer is wrong, don’t stand toe to toe with them and exchange insults. Instead apologize for the customer feeling the way they are with something like; “I’m really sorry we have a problem with X and I can see your point”. If they are right…guess what…use the same line again! A sincere apology will put you on the customer’s side and that is what you really want.

Act immediately to correct the problem. If the customer is wrong and wants an arm and a leg to get it fixed, offer to work with them to correct it and if that can’t be done without you losing a lot money, ask if they would accept an independent third party to look at it. If it’s a quick fix, then FIX IT! And if you are wrong, fix it ASAP!

Remember the old saying that if the customer likes your work they will tell 3 people and if they don’t they will tell everyone. With Facebook, tweets and instant blogs, they will tell everyone on the planet if they think you screwed them over.

Feel – Felt – Found
This is one that I borrowed from Tom Peters. When you find that a customer is in your face about something, get them calmed down by acknowledging the problem and say to them: “I know how you feel, I’ve felt the same way before but I’ve found that if we can….(fill in what you want the customer to agree to)”.

This won’t work in every circumstance but you’ll find that it fits a lot of them especially when they are asking your opinion about a decision they have to make.

Know when to fold ‘em!
This is one that every builder wishes they had done at one time or another. Some customers are truly not worth working with and you realize it too late. Even though a warm body could mean a new house, take your time to learn about the buyer. One time I built a house for a fellow that told me he was a consultant for the local banks. Turned out he was a home inspector who took one of those 3 day courses and bought a franchise. He was the worst nightmare any builder could have. My wife told me she had a bad feeling about him and I wished I would have listened to her.


So, what's in your tool belt?

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