All you have to do is Google “customer service memes” and you will see, dare I say, a truer side of the way today’s society views the idea. Granted, a meme by its definition is “a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc.” However, we all know there is always a little truth behind irony and satire. Most, if not all, of us have experienced this in our day-to-day lives, such as calls to the cable provider, insurance company, or any office operated by the government. What has happened to the lost art of customer service?
Don’t get me wrong, there are still companies who put a little more emphasis on the idea that better customer service equals higher sales. Have you ever noticed Home Depot employees usually ask you if they can help you find something? It is a perfect example of one little thing that can make a big difference in our experiences as a customer. Maybe that is what we need: a mental shift to start thinking about it as the “customer experience.”
Obviously, this is not something that only plagues the pool industry. Writing this article has served as a reminder for me regarding some of the “little things” that can make an impact for my own clients’ overall experiences. Because for those of us who design and build pools, the customer experience does not end at the point of sale; it’s just the beginning. Now we have 3-12 months or maybe longer, directly involved in their day-to-day lives. We should strive to take this time and develop a relationship that feels more like family.
For me this starts by listening. What are their dreams? What are their wants, needs, and goals? Listening is a key aspect in providing an experience that goes beyond just designing and building a pool. It is about taking time to get to know them personally and connect on a level that surpasses the buyer/seller relationship. Part of this is setting our own ego aside. I get it, we are all experts. However, there will always be people who want what they want regardless of our expertise and advice. And while we still have the responsibility of informing and educating our clients it is not our place to try to force our personal beliefs or agenda. It is our job to give them what they want (within reason, of course.)
Setting the clients’ expectations can go a long way in elevating their experience along with eliminating headaches for you. I kind of joke in my office and say, “I like to set the bar low when I sell a project. That way it’s easy to step over.” There is a little truth behind this. I always want to over deliver but I also want to make sure I do not over promise anything. I want them to understand the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to what we do and how we do it. Once construction begins, building a pool is not all “peaches and cream” for the homeowner. We destroy their yards before we transform them into something amazing. Helping them understand this process and some of the potential issues that can arise are important factors to their overall experience.
When it comes to providing a better customer experience, getting back to basics is a good way to start. Treat people the way we want to be treated. Focusing more on the customer’s overall experience will go much further than trying to train your people on value/solution-based selling techniques. Not only will you see increased sales but repeat business as well. Because this “thing” we do is not about us.