Matt Colligan, has been the Division Manager for Champion Windows, in Colorado Springs, Colo., since 2004. This year, for the second year in a row, Champion of Colorado Springs won the Better Business Bureau's Excellence in Customer Service Award. The operation's sales have increased more than 50% since 2005.

Replacement Contractor: What did you have to do to get this award?

Matt Colligan: They [the BBB] evaluate you on seven categories: vision and mission, customer service plan, customer and market assessments, employee motivation, customer service measures, customer service processes and results, and continuous improvements. Under each there's a series of questions. They evaluate your business based on your answers.

RC: But anybody could say anything. How do they know you're on the level?

MC: A team of four people came in and spent a half-day talking to all the people who work here making sure that the answers I put in our application were true and were being implemented.

RC: What did you say to prepare employees for this?

MC: We had a company meeting and said: You're going to be interviewed. There will be people talking to you about the criteria.

Follow-Up Plan

RC: Do you have a written plan for your customer service procedures? What goes into it?

MC: We have a written plan for that and we've tracked it as we've implemented it. The biggest part of it is a follow-up plan. It's rare in the home improvement business that any salesperson does a follow-up call on a customer. Once they sell the project they just go off to their next appointment. We require that they revisit that customer. We schedule the appointment for them to do the follow-up and walk-through.

This happens about two weeks after the job's installed. They provide the customer with warranty information and tax credit information. And since it's two weeks after installation, we're able to find and deal with any flaws.

RC: How do you track it?

MC: We survey all our customers. Every department in the company ? including installers and salespeople ? gets a customer service rating on a 1-to-5 scale.

RC: What kind of response rate do you get?

MC: We get approximately 70% of our surveys returned, either via the installer, the factory rep, or the mail. This gives us a really good view of what's going on. To encourage people to return the survey, we donate $5 when they do to a food bank called Care and Share.

RC: What would you do if someone's customer service rating isn't a 5?

MC: We have a gold-standard bonus program, so they get paid a percentage of the job as a bonus. Their ratings are tied to bonuses. If an installer didn't get an "extremely satisfied" rating he would get kicked out of the bonus multiplier for that particular job.

RC: Where does admin fit in here?

MC: Since a customer can't evaluate a person [in administration] individually ? they're not directly responsible for the sale or installation ? we ask them to rate employees as a group: sales, office personnel, installation. Office personnel are bonused as a group and their multiplier is based on customer service.

RC: What kind of bonuses are we talking about?

MC: They're based on installation thresholds that we have to hit as a company. If they schedule enough jobs and get enough jobs installed, they could get a $100 to $200 bonus at the end of the month. Once we hit those thresholds, bonuses kick in. For installers, we pay it out quarterly. We found that if we paid it out every week, it wasn't enough to motivate people. Also, that makes it easier to administer. We show them what their bonus was, what it could've been, and what they missed out on.

RC: An important qualification for the award is your customer and market assessment.

MC: They want to know if the company knows who its customers are and whether or not they market directly to those customers. They also want to know what we do to make sure that customers are happy and to make sure all our processes and systems are consistent all the way through.