5 Strategies for Contractors to Provide Better Customer Service

Succeeding as a contractor takes more than doing quality work. More than ever, the customer service you provide before, during, and after a job is a vital component of your business growth.

93% of customers in a survey conducted by HubSpot said they were more likely to be repeat customers at companies with excellent customer service. Considering the amount of risk and money that goes into contracting projects, your clients want to stay informed and feel like a partner in the process. 

So, how does customer service tie into contractor reputation and experience, and how can you improve your customer experience? Let’s dive in.

Why is customer service so important for contractors?

If you’re wondering how to get clients as a contractor, start by looking at your customer experience.

The pandemic challenged people to branch out from their habits, including how they shop for services and who they choose to continue working with. Many customers have grown accustomed to high-touch services in their everyday purchasing, and they’ll look for the same in a contractor.

Additionally, construction and contracting are plagued by poor customer service and low consumer expectations, so providing high-quality service is a significant differentiator. 

Exceeding expectations for customer service can translate into positive online reviews, repeat customers, and word of mouth — all of which can lead to new projects. Plus, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience, so improving your customer experience may also result in more profitable projects.

Common customer service challenges

Here are a few of the most common issues contractors face that can impact the customer experience:

Slow communication – Especially for small teams, responding to clients in a timely manner can be challenging. Letting clients know what to expect ahead of time can prevent this from causing negative sentiments around communication. For example, a simple note on your correspondence saying “we will respond 24-48 hours after receiving an email” can help manage expectations.

Inconsistent customer engagement – Many contractors will go from hands-on during pitching to low-engagement once the contract is signed. Regularly communicating about progress and expectations with your clients can help build trust, so they can rest easier knowing you’re hard at work.

Lack of visibility – Vague estimates that don’t clearly explain each cost can negatively impact client trust. 

Once the work commences, clients who don’t know what’s happening on-site and have no way to find out are more likely to reach out numerous times seeking updates. This takes up valuable time that could be spent on value-creating tasks.

Minimal options for communication platforms – Phone lines that are only available during office hours may not work well for clients in different time zones, and may leave them playing phone tag with front-office staff (a frustrating experience for everyone involved). On the other hand, emails quickly get lost in inboxes, and some clients may check their email less frequently than you’d like.

Poor after-job support – The job doesn’t end when you pack up and leave the site. Often clients feel they don’t have a chance to provide feedback, either positive or negative. If they do, it may come too late to be beneficial or fixable. 

Fail to meet customer expectations – A client may have a bad experience with your company even when the workmanship is stellar. Understanding who your customer is and the relationship you have with them is of utmost importance. Clearly communicating expectations at the start of a project can help level-set the experience for everyone — without consistent communication, it’s easy for expectations to go off the rails. 

If you’re not checking in or giving opportunities for communication and feedback, your customer may have negative sentiments that you could fix, but won’t be able to after the job is finished. 

Tips for improving contractor customer retention with customer service

So what can you do or provide to improve your customer service?

Frequent and consistent communication – When lines of communication are open, your customers feel comfortable and reassured that you’re listening and there to hear concerns and opinions.

Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean that you personally need to be available 24/7, but do make it clear when you’re available and when your clients should expect to hear back from you — and stick to that promise. Automated reminders on phone communications and templated emails can help you stay in touch without having to start from scratch.

Transparency – The first step in offering transparency involves providing accurate information about timelines and expectations with clients before a project starts. Once the job is underway, it helps to make those answers easily accessible online, so they can refresh their memory and get peace of mind. 

Even if things don’t go according to plan, being honest and transparent about an issue will always leave room for a resolution.

Multiple channels of communication – Providing multiple ways for your clients to stay in communication with you will help ensure important information gets where it needs to go. Phone, email, text, or even live chat can help keep your customers and your team in the loop. 

While some customers may have an aversion to calling, others may prefer a phone call to quickly hash out a question or concern. Having multiple communication methods available will lead to happier customers who feel comfortable reaching out.

Timely feedback requests that lead to action – Customers not only want a positive experience, they want to be able to share feedback (both good and bad) in a timely manner, and in a way that allows them to feel comfortable sharing their opinions fully. 

Collect feedback using a method that doesn’t require face-to-face interaction; clients may not feel fully comfortable offering honest criticism so directly. Be sure to request feedback soon after the job is finished, too — waiting too long means details are often forgotten, and both the good and the bad get skewed by time. Prompt feedback requests also ensure that if something negative has happened, you can quickly take action. 

When you get feedback, respond and take necessary steps to resolve the issue. Don’t let feedback go into a black hole.

Offer satisfaction guarantees – Things don’t always go to plan. If customers aren’t 100% satisfied, they should be able to seek resolution with your team. A satisfaction guarantee doesn’t have to be a blanket promise to fix dissatisfaction, but it should mandate a good faith effort to make things right. 

Any satisfaction guarantee policy should be clear, detailed, and include information about things like the potential for change orders, how much it may cost, and so on. 

It helps to go over the details of your guarantee with the client in person at the start of the project — not only does that set expectations, it also lets them know that you care about the outcome and won’t leave them hanging if something goes wrong. 

Create excellent experiences with Estimate Rocket

Excelling at customer service is not as challenging as you may think, and it may give you a big leg up on your competition.

Having the right tools in place can have a huge impact on how well you can serve your customers. They can help you stay connected, manage communications, and organize documents so you can easily manage your client relations.

In addition to saving time on your day-to-day tasks, Estimate Rocket can help you provide the kind of communication, professionalism, and consistency your clients are looking for so you can spend more time building relationships and doing excellent work.

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