Managing a Customer’s First Impressions

By Tom Jennings, WFCA VP, Member Services

Ask the customer job specific questions (where to set up saws, put furniture, removed flooring, leftover materials, location of water faucet, etc.).
Ask the customer job specific questions (where to set up saws, put furniture, removed flooring, leftover materials, location of water faucet, etc.).

Many flooring businesses train their internal team members a variety of ways to positively manage the customer’s first impressions. This is both logical and necessary given the logic that “nothing happens until somebody sells something.” It’s been my observation there are far too few dealers taking the same approach with the service portion of their operation. Let’s examine some opportunities to make a positive impression when she meets our installation staff.

There will have been several impressions made before the installer actually arrives at the jobsite. If the customer’s goods were custom ordered, was the customer kept aware of the expected delivery dates? Did the store proactively call to schedule the installation, or was this task left to the customer? Was the installation scheduled at a time that was most convenient to her, or the installer? Did we promise a reasonable arrival, or did we act like the cable company by not validating the worth of her time? These are all interactions that will affect the installer’s day before he ever arrives to perform his duties.

Making the Right Impression

Just as sales professionals, the installer should always be respectful of a customer’s time. In a day when everyone has a phone in their pocket, there is no excuse for arriving late without prior notice. A good habit to get into is calling a customer a few minutes prior to the promised arrival time to advise her that you are on schedule. She will now know that you are in fact coming. She won’t feel compelled to look out the window wondering if you remembered her or not. This is a courtesy that she will appreciate and will make you stand out from the field. She will now likely greet you at the door with a smile, and you will be well on your way to establishing good relations with the customer.

When arriving to perform the installation, a flooring mechanic should always arrive at the door carrying nothing but a clipboard with the jobsite information. Always dress correctly and offer your name. Always find something complimentary to say about the worksite. Such topics may include the family pet, the view out the window, the landscaping, etc. The subject matter isn’t important, so long as it is not too personal in nature, but setting a positive tone for the day is.

Ask to see the area where the work is to be performed and listen to the customer’s wishes. If you see any potential problems, point them out and explain your suggested remedies at this time. Should any surprises be discovered, always notify the store immediately. Don’t needlessly involve or alarm the customer with job particulars unless necessary to do so. Never complain or point fingers!

She is likely somewhat uneasy about the disruption of the installation process, investment cost, having strangers in her house, etc. Now is definitely not the time to be intimidating or off-putting in her eyes. Such an approach will only produce a day filled with mistrust and frustration for the customer and installer alike. Days like this are hardly ever fun…nor hardly ever necessary! Remember, you were hired you because you were billed as a knowledgeable professional. Always act like one!

Ask the customer job specific questions (where to set up saws, put furniture, removed flooring, leftover materials, location of water faucet, etc.). Ask the customer’s permission to leave your truck in the driveway. Once this has been completed, now is the time to carry in toolboxes and materials.

These are very important steps. If you were going to have surgery, the doctor wouldn’t meet you in the waiting room wearing a gown and carrying a scalpel! He would counsel you, ask for questions and tell you that he would now go prepare and would see you in a few minutes in the operating room. He wouldn’t try to intimidate his patient. Rather, he’d do his best to be reassuring and professional in his approach. While we may not be saving lives with our work, shouldn’t we strive to be just as professional and respected for the work that we do?

Conclusion

While individually these may seem like small steps to take, collectively they will produce a tremendous gain in confidence by the customer. The result? A more rewarding experience for all involved. Learn to properly manage the first few minutes of an installation. You’ll see your success rate begin to climb and your level of frustration begin to fall.

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