Article originally published March 23rd, 2015. Updated November 20, 2019.
As a countertop fabricator, customer service should be your top priority. I know what you’re thinking – “What about installation expertise or better pricing or higher quality materials?”
Yes, this is all important, but without top-notch customer service, your entire business falls apart.
Not so sure? Here are some statistics to get you thinking:
- One-third of consumers say they would consider switching companies after just one instance of bad customer service.
- 56% of people around the world have stopped doing business with a company because of a poor customer service experience.
- Four out of ten consumers will tell their friends not to buy from your business if they have had poor customer service.
If you have poor customer service, not only will you lose a third to half of your potential customers, but you also miss out on referrals. Referrals can be the lifeblood of a small countertop business!
Since many homeowners have had poor experiences with contractors, you do have one crucial factor on your side: low expectations.
It pains us to say this, but any contractor who actually shows up, explains the process, and does the work on budget and on time is a rare breed. Typically, those contractors have a customer for life.
Imagine that same, reliable contractor having impeccable customer service. Now, you have a customer advocate who will go out of their way to recommend you to friends, family, realtors, and more.
Because customer service is so crucial during every step of the sales cycle, we’ve broken up this article into three sections. Feel free to jump ahead at any time:
- Better customer service before the sale
- Better customer service during the sale
- Better customer service after the sale
Let’s get to it!
Better Customer Service Before the Sale
Before you start working with a customer on their countertop project, you want to show them why you’re worth their while.
What makes you stand out from the other countertop fabricators in your area? This first impression is essential because it sets the customer’s expectations for the rest of their experience with your business.
It’s sort of like dating, isn’t it? Here are a few ways to offer better customer service before the sale.
The “10-4” Rule
The “10-4” rule is all about distance – the space between you and the customer tells you how you should be interacting with them. This customer service trick can be taught to anyone.
When you find yourself within ten feet of a customer, make friendly eye contact.
If you can include a smile, even better! Eye contact acknowledges the customer and shows that you are open to questions – even if you’re not available that instant. For example, if you are helping one customer when another approaches, you can give the second customer a quick nod and a smile without being rude to the first.
If you’re within four feet of a customer, say something friendly.
You can keep it simple with a “May I help you?” Alternatively, you can switch it up with a “Howdy” or “Have you been in our showroom before?” or “How ’bout them Cowboys?”
The key is that you say something that invites communication as opposed to something uninviting, like, “We close in ten minutes.”
These are observable behaviors that don’t rely on intuition. They can be taught. Therefore staff can be held accountable for adhering to this rule. Try out the 10-4 rule with your team and watch it work wonders!
Offer an Impressive Customer Experience
How your customers feel when they interact with your business is also a part of your service.
Is your showroom clean, inviting, and organized?
Chase Diamond, a member of our Moraware team, visited America’s Dream HomeWorks showroom, and his initial impression of the building and showroom was out of this world.
He explains, “From the moment I pulled into their large parking lot surrounding their impressively lettered building, I knew I was in for a treat. The front doors lead into a pristine showroom that is lined wall-to-wall with entire slabs. The space between these slab-lined walls is full of great stone working examples, too.”
Chase hadn’t interacted with a single staff member, and yet he was already impressed with the countertop shop. Set up your shop for success by considering the customer experience. Every chance you have to “wow” your customer is a chance to serve them.
Here are a few things to think about when improving the customer experience in your showroom or office (if you have one):
- Keep your showroom clean and clutter-free (no stacks of messy paperwork on every counter!).
- Consider the curb appeal of your building – is it inviting? Is it trash-free? Is it clear the customer is in the right place?
- Is the layout of your showroom encouraging or confusing?
- What’s the feeling you get when you walk into your showroom? Is it friendly and upbeat or dark and gloomy?
Harry visited Nelson Tile & Stone in Oregon. He noted how everyone was so friendly and happy when he walked inside. Is that how customers feel when they enter your shop?
Spend some time thinking about your customer’s experience. There may be some improvements you can make that have nothing to do with customer interaction at all!
Better Customer Service During the Sale
Now that you’ve got an interested client who is teetering on becoming a customer, it’s showtime.
Impress your clients during the quoting and installation process, and you are setting yourself up for a long-term customer who advocates for you and your shop. There are several ways you can give better customer service during the sale, including:
- Give faster quotes
- Stay in communication
- Meet your deadline
Give Faster Quotes
Today’s customers expect speed – they just do.
12% of Americans rate their number one frustration with customer service as “lack of speed.”
If a potential customer is doing a massive renovation, the countertops are just part of the entire process. Not only are they dealing with multiple moving parts, but everything takes time. They’re waiting on a quote from the cabinet guy, the drywaller is delayed by two weeks, and the flooring they ordered is suddenly on backorder.
How relieved will your clients be when you assess their needs, offer a recommendation, and then give a quote right then and there? No waiting for a few days – or weeks – and you get instant feedback from your client while you’re there in front of them.
Using our countertop quoting software, CounterGo, you can draw, layout, and quote a countertop in just 3 minutes.
You don’t want to be stuck behind your desk putting together quotes when you could be spending that time getting more customers and serving your existing ones.
How’s that for better customer service?!
Stay in Communication
Nothing is more frustrating than having a contractor who’s MIA. Staying in communication with your customer during the installation process is a surefire way to stand out from the pack because let’s be honest – no one else is doing it.
Here are three steps to staying in communication with your new countertop customer:
- Set expectations with your customer
- Explain how the process will work
- Update your customer on the progress throughout the installation process
Nothing is worse than a client expecting you to be finished tomorrow when you’re not able to get started for 6 more days. Set expectations from the beginning for when you plan to start work and how long the job will take.
Then, explain how the process works by providing details on what steps are involved. When a customer has a better picture of how in-depth the work is, they’re more likely to empathize if something goes wrong, and the project takes longer than expected.
Finally, when you’re doing the installation, update your customer on your progress. Is your helper sick, and you can’t finish the project until tomorrow? Call your client and let them know! Will you be showing up an hour later than you originally stated? Call your client!
The more you communicate, the more impressed and thankful your customers will be.
Read More: Sales = Communication + Empathy
Meet Your Deadlines
Streamlining your operations is the best way to treat the root of the problem if you have trouble meeting deadline expectations.
Our suggestion is to implement technology to help!
Systemize, our communication software, helps your countertop fabrication business by providing you with the following information at any given time:
- Always know the status of a countertop installation – has the countertop been cut? Is the install scheduled yet?
- Measure what you did last time and improve it for next time – which install crew is the most effective? Which team generated the most repair calls?
- Monitor tasks and ensure they’re getting done
By always being in the know – and improving your weak spots – you’ll find meeting deadlines becomes the norm, not the exception.
Better Customer Service After the Sale
After the countertop is installed and you’re on your way, are you staying in touch with your customers? If not, you’re missing out on a massive chunk of potential revenue. It’s really like throwing cash out the window.
80% of your future profits will come from just 20% of your existing customers. For every customer that you can continue to impress after you’ve completed the sale, you’re giving your business the chance to grow exponentially.
Follow Up After the Installation
The most apparent way to give stellar customer service after you finish a countertop project is to follow up.
The way you follow up should mirror the way your client preferred to communicate with you up to this point. Have they mainly sent emails? Have they texted you? Do they seem to prefer phone calls?
Send a friendly follow up after the installation using their preferred method of communication. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, either.
Here’s a follow up template you can use to communicate to your countertop customers:
“This is just a quick [email, text, call] to thank you for the opportunity to be of service to you on [date]. We value our customers and truly appreciate your business. If you have any questions, please call us at [phone number]. We look forward to seeing you again soon.”
It’s the small gestures like this that stand out to a customer. Even if it leads to something as simple as a positive Google review, you’ve come out ahead.
Find Reasons to Keep In Touch
After the installation, it can be hard to find reasons to keep in touch with your clients.
That’s easy – do what we do here at Moraware! (Yes, our ideas are free for the taking.)
Pick up that phone and touch base with your clients when:
- You have new stuff to offer.
- You have something to up-sell.
- You’re running a sale or promotion.
- You’d like feedback on how the countertops are doing.
Whether it’s a holiday special on granite or a fancy new sink that’d complement those new countertops, there’s always a reason to touch base with a client.
If all else fails, call your client 6 months or a year after the installation, and ask how the countertops are doing. This is a sure way to set yourself apart, and again, you’re setting up your business for success by taking the time to make these extra impressions.
Ask for Referrals
Asking for referrals is essential, especially as a small business. It’s free marketing!
Here are a few ideas for setting up a referral strategy:
- Utilize a CRM (if it includes a referral program)
- Create a referral program by partnering up with local businesses where, for every referral your customer sends to you, they will receive a reward of your choosing.
- Set up a referral charity drive, where you donate a certain amount to charity for every referral you receive
Asking for a referral is a way to stay in front of your customer, which opens up another possibility to deliver excellent service. Simple as that.
Survey Your Customers
Finally, survey your customers! Most people won’t say anything, especially if they’ve had a completely average experience, so going out of your way to gather feedback can make a big difference for your business.
You’ve probably gotten emails like this: “How likely, on a scale of 1-10, are you to recommend us to a friend?”
People are generally pretty willing to reply to these, because it’s anonymous, it’s easy, and they’re not worried about confrontation.
Either way, email surveys will help you improve your customer service over time. You can get negative feedback, which enables you to grow, and you get positive feedback, which allows you to keep generating superfans.
Better Service Equals More Countertop Sales
Providing better customer service is the best way to increase your bottom line. You retain the customers you’ve worked hard to get, you delight potential prospects who walk through the door, and you set yourself up for many years of referrals.
What are you waiting for?
Don’t forget that automating your quoting system, as well as your workflow, will translate into better customer service. If you haven’t considered CounterGo or Systemize yet, schedule a free demo to see how it can help your fabrication shop!
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