How to Lose a Customer in 10 (or So) Days
As a YP℠ employee, my 8-to-5ish world revolves around finding ways to help local businesses connect with ready-to-buy consumers. Part of that includes understanding what consumers want, need, and expect from local businesses so we can help our clients deliver the best customer experience possible. And since my husband (aka “Mr. Do-It”) is a contractor, I’ve always got an ear tuned to seeing and understanding how he and other local contractors present themselves to homeowners and the responses they receive in return.
The reason why I’m even telling you this is because both of these factors combined have given me first-hand knowledge about the right and wrong ways to treat customers. That, and I’m also a cash-in-hand, ready-to-buy, internet-using, testimonial-reading, local-business-supporting, home-owning consumer.
When my own “Mr. Do-It” doesn’t have the time or resources to do certain jobs around the house, we turn to other local businesses for help. For example, after moving into a house that needed quite a bit of TLC, we looked for outside contractors to help us with major home renovations, like building a new roof and replacing windows.
The search for local contractors (obviously) began on local search sites like yellowpages.com. Not only do these sites make it easy to search and find a wide variety of local businesses, but they also make learning about those businesses easy, too – whether it’s clicking through to their website, reading reviews and ratings, or taking a look at picture of completed work. Basically, everything you need to make a solid decision, all in one, convenient place.
Even the research we conducted recently, in partnership with the Local Search Association (LSA) and Thrive Analytics, revealed that the top sources of information used by consumers to search for “Home Improvement & Services” businesses are: search engines, business websites, online testimonials, ratings and reviews, and online directories.
Like most homeowners, we wanted to receive quality work at a fair price, so we quickly narrowed our search down to three companies per industry and then waited patiently as a series of quotes flowed in over the next 10 days. Unfortunately, in spite of all our anticipation, a series of disappointing events followed as well. For this reason, I thought I’d draft a list of “do’s and don’ts” for Home Improvement or Home Service specialists.
Don’t lie. Yes, I know, “lie” is a strong word, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly. According to Merriam-Webster, a lie “creates a false or misleading impression.” Two different service providers said things like “Let me be honest…” and then managed to quickly contradict themselves within the context of their quotes. Even one sales manager followed up a few days later after we’d receive a quote and gave us very different information about options and pricing than what his team had initially provided. Imagine the kind of impression that left with us; it’s the kind of impression that made us not want to do business with them. So while these may not all be lies, per se, inaccurate or misleading information, especially from different people within a business, can quickly lead to a lack of trust. And, let’s be honest (no pun intended), who wants to hire someone they can’t trust?
Do as you say. If you promise to send me a quote within a week, I won’t expect it before then. If you say you’re going to be at our house at 9am on Saturday, you better show up – and on time. Simple as that. If you fail to do so, without even a courtesy call to apologize in advance, I’ll start to question whether or not you can actually deliver the job on time. In worst case scenario, I might even take out my frustration by writing a negative review online. Even more, since 67 percent of “Home Improvement and Services” consumers won’t even consider a business with any negative ratings and reviews, this one bout of frustration could cause you to lose more than just my business. So, be sure to set clear expectations and then follow through. And if you do, I just might be inclined to write a positive review!\
Don’t bash the competition. This is something that more than half of the companies did with us face-to-face. We asked you to provide a quote so we could learn more about your business. It’s a waste of our time – and yours for that matter – to spend any of that time and energy talking badly about another business. Take the high road. Talk about your capabilities, your qualifications, your unique points of difference – and make that your key selling point. After all, I’m more interested in understanding what you can do for me, not what the competition can’t. I can figure it out on my own.
Do educate me. You’re the expert at what you do, and I’m gathering a variety of quotes to evaluate the quality, features, and price associated with different service providers – and then eventually make the best choice based on our specific needs and budget. More often than not, I choose businesses to work with based on something I liked on their website or their business profile, in an ad, or on social media. Use all of those assets to your advantage to educate me on your products and services – and then keep that education going when we have our in-person consultation – so I can make a better purchase decision.
A solid online reputation will help get you over the hurdle of receiving that initial phone call and getting an opportunity to earn a consumer’s business. And that’s an opportunity that you can never put to waste. Because for this cash-in-hand, ready-to-buy, internet-using, testimonial-reading, local-business-supporting, home-owning consumer, your honesty, trustworthiness, respect, and knowledge will be what ultimately seals the deal.