Wouldn't it be great if your phone rang several times a day and the conversation went something like this:"Hello, XYZ Home Improvement? I was just in my neighbor's house and she showed me the windows your guys put in, and I wonder if somebody from your company could come out and ..."
If that doesn't happen often, or ever, it may be that you're not paying the proper attention to customer service - or hardly any attention. What if your company was so well known for not just the quality and craftsmanship of its work, whatever that may be, but the consideration and low-to-no-stress manner in which that work was performed?
There are companies in the home remodeling industry that have increased their referral business, along with their company image, closing percentages, and customer satisfaction ratings by getting involved in a program known as The Red Carpet Treatment.
Actually, great companies of all kinds use this concept or theme in whole or in part. What they have in common is that they understand that "The core of service marketing is the service itself," an idea put forward by Harry Beckwith, acclaimed author of Selling the Invisible.
Beckwith's research, based on dealings with some of the nation's top 200 companies ? Microsoft, General Motors, and Target among them ? shows that one of the things that these premier organizations have in common is that they all subscribe to the idea that the main principle in marketing a service and acquiring repeat and referral business is to create a better overall experience for your customers. I find that completely consistent with the experiences I've had working with several leaders in our industry. Improve the customer experience in some measurable degree and your marketing will become less difficult, your costs will decrease, and your effectiveness will increase.
How It Works
So how does The Red Carpet Treatment program help a business like yours to create a better experience for the consumer?
It all starts with the initial face-to-face meeting that your salesperson has with the homeowner. When they arrive at the prospect's home, they should be on time, dressed in uniform, and well-groomed. Before walking into the living room or kitchen, your salesperson should stop just inside the doorway and slip on a pair of (red) shoe covers, commonly known as booties. Have them do it even if the homeowner claims it's not necessary. The salesperson should remove the booties each time they go outside to measure or pick up samples from their vehicle, and put them back on when re-entering.
Being this obviously considerate of their property and belongings makes it likely that homeowners will be receptive to suggestions about additional work by your installers. They're more inclined to believe and accept your promises because they have already seen your thoughtfulness and precaution firsthand. It will also make them more likely to pay attention to the quality of that installation.
Additional steps taken during The Red Carpet Treatment process include placing a red colored tarp or protective cardboard on the driveway underneath the company vehicle when installers arrive. This is to pick up any falling debris from the truck and eliminate the possibility of a fluid leak staining the driveway.
Another key step involves laying a red welcome mat outside the front door, and tarps or runners around the work area. You can incorporate some of these into the containment and cleanup measures that are part of lead-safe renovation, soon to be mandatory in houses built before 1978 where the presence of lead paint is suspected.
Ultimately, your goal should be to transform your staff ? salespeople, measure techs, and installers ? into marketers. You can do this by having them participate in The Red Carpet Treatment, which creates a better end result for your customer.
Of course you can also do it by creating systems to ensure and measure customer satisfaction. For instance, does someone from your company ? or do you personally ? make a point of calling or e-mailing each customer to find out whether or not they are satisfied and what they liked about working with your company? I'm not just talking about a customer satisfaction survey ? every good company should do that ? but a personal phone call.
Just as the Walt Disney Co. views the groundskeepers who walk around its theme parks as marketers because they are so visible, so you would be wise to see your tech employees as precisely the people to project the image you want your company to have and to create the experience that makes your customer want to spread the word. Many of the home improvement companies with the highest referral rates make generating referrals part of the installer's job, and provide incentives for bringing in those referrals.
Subcontractors installing your products? Make customer service a protocol they must subscribe to if they want your company's business. The leads will be sure to follow.