Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.

The Works of Marketing with Ray INDEX

June 29, 2004 • Volume 4 Issue 2

JoAnna Brandi's Customer Care Tip

A New Yorker in an earlier life, now housed in Florida, JoAnna Brandi is a lady I know not well.

We did have dinner together, along with a few select others in the direct trade, long ago. One evening. In New York City. And we do stay in E-mail touch.

I like JoAnna. She cuts to the quick. She tells it like it is.She understands more about getting and keeping a customer, no matter your business, than any two other people on earth.

When spring was spring (summertime just recently arrived in the northern hemisphere) and I first read The Customer Care Tip ...Sprucing Up for Spring, I asked JoAnna two questions;

...first, may I share it with a client who needs to know what this article says, and

... two, may I include it in this E-zine so you could read, enjoy, learn and put the message to work.

JoAnna said 'yes', to both requests. So, here it is for you. Do EnJoy! And do 'get the message'. I have no doubt you will do both.

"I'd like to share with you the experience of my dear friend,partner and editor, Tracey Paradiso.

"Tracey and her family have been in the "construction zone" for over a year now and in sheer frustration she sat down to write about her experience in hopes that you might learn from it as a homeowner (in how to express your needs and expectations) or if you are in one of the building trades as a craftsperson or business owner/manager, in hopes that you will listen to the "voice of the customer."

"There's much to learn from listening to her story about the dangers in the construction zone".

Renovations, Relationships & Women:
Tips for Contractors to Keep Everyone Happy

"Stop playing games!" I shouted into the phone, and then I slammed it into its cradle for emphasis. It was over.

"I was tired of the broken promises. The lack of attention. The poor communications. I'd been tolerating him for months, and what I'd just found out was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

"No, I'm not referring to a boyfriend, lover or husband. In fact, he was my contractor. And I'd just found out that his lack of follow through regarding our malfunctioning central air might cost me hundreds of dollars - maybe more - than we'd already shelled out for extensive home renovations.

"The homeowner/contractor relationship can easily sour over the course of major renovations. Let's face it, contractors create chaos even as they make things better, and a homeowner's construction naiveté can drive a builder bonkers.

"Contractors might be interested to learn that if they want to create an awesome customer experience - thereby increasing the likelihood of being paid in a timely fashion and being referred to their customers' friends -they'll aim to please the woman of the house. (my emphasis)

"Tom Peters, one of the most influential 'thought leaders' in business today, says in his presentation entitled 'The B-I-G Opportunity: Women& Boomers," that "women's increasing power - leadership skills and purchasing power - is the strongest and most dynamic force at work in the American economytoday.'

"Peters' conclusion: 'Women roar.' And when they roar happily they tend to be much more loyal than male customers. When they're unhappy, they talk to their friends - not to do a business wrong, but to process what's happened, and to gather different viewpoints of the situation.

"I've talked to my friends about my experience with my contractor, and gathered many viewpoints. Lucky for me, my friend JoAnna Brandi also happens to be my business partner and an expert at assisting businesses in creating the kinds of exquisite customer experiences that keep customers happy,coming back and referring their friends.

"Together, the nationally renown 'Customer Care Coach' and I came up with some easy, effective guidelines that might help builders who have those goals to earn the status of "Mr. Right for the Job." After compiling them, we realized that they can be modified to help to any business and are useful as a guideline for customers when expressing their expectations to their suppliers.

Ten Tips for Teaming Up with Female Customers

1) Keep your promises. Your promises create an expectation. When you fail to deliver on that expectation you create negative feelings. The Golden Rule: Underpromise and overdeliver. That way you're more likely to surprise and delight your customers. And remember, women thrive on happy connections with the people they do business with.

2) Keep in touch. No, you don't have to call daily. But it's most appreciated when you give customers a heads up regarding what to expect next, and an explanation when nothing at all will be happening for a few days (or a few weeks, or a few months, as in the case of my contractor). Program your customer's phone number in your cell phone for the short-term and use it.

3) As Walt Disney said, "The magic is in the details."When you're renovating someone's home, details revolve around simple thoughtful acts like: "He takes his shoes off every time he walks in so he doesn't track debris all over the house...The crews completely clean up at the end of everyday...They put boards down over the mud in the front yard so we can avoid getting mucked up on our way to our front door...He referred us to a great hardware store/cabinet supplier/appliance outlet...He's really nice to the kids/the dog/the canary..."

4) Remember the all-important words: "I'm sorry."This is especially important for contractors who make renovations to remember,as they are working in someone's home. While a contractor knows accidents are part of the job, a homeowner may feel much differently about them (angry, frustrated, upset), and can be soothed with lines as simple as:

  • "I'm sorry we broke your window when we installed it; I'll be sure to replace it.
  • I'm sorry I couldn't get back to you sooner; I've had another job that's just a bear...I'm sorry I disappeared for eight months; I'll be sure to finish up right away
  • I'm sorry I didn't explain this to you more clearly; do we understand each other now?
  • I'm sorry your brand new upstairs bathroom is leaking into the brand new downstairs bathroom;we'll get right on it
  • I'm sorry our framer dropped his power saw, which cut through your second floor, landed on your first floor and damaged your laundry room. We're fully responsible and we'll do everything possible to make everything as good as new."

5) Once again, remember you're working in someone's HOME. Even when your customers are gung-ho about their renovations, chances are they're going to feel vulnerable and even violated as your crew traipses through every inch of their personal space. Just acknowledging that you're aware of your customers' feelings can help. Try: "I know it can be difficult to have so many strangers in your home. Hang in there, we'll be done before you know it."

Or: "One of my customers once said that renovations are like childbirth; the labor is hell, but the results are so wonderful that you eventually forget all about the pain." Or: "You've been a real trooper. It's a pleasure to work for you."

6) Adding to the customers' feelings of vulnerability is the fact that if they discover they're not pleased with your service at any point, they'll very likely stick with you anyway to avoid the multi-dimensional hassles of replacing you - and tolerating your presence is frustrating! That's another good reason to create an excellent customer experience; it makes things pleasant for both the customer AND for you.

7) Do some simple tasks for 'free.'Your customers put a lot of money and emotion into your business - it may be one of the largest purchases a homeowner ever makes outside of buying the house itself. Especially toward the end of the project, when they've just about had it under even the best circumstances, offer some 'freebies' like installation of towel racks, the labor for replacing the screen door, installation of a mailbox and house numbers, one free shrub to replace the one they damaged...you get theidea.

8) Answer your customers' questions from a mindset of 'positivepossibilities.' In other words, be imaginative and share their enthusiasm. "Wow,it would be great if we could install louver doors here. The thing is, the doors only come in two sizes, neither of which will fit this space properly. The good news is, there are other things we CAN do..."

9) Collaborate. Think of yourself and your customers as a collaborative team - even if they're not the teammates you'd choose. In collaborations, everyone is respected as having something valuable to contribute to the process and, in the end, everyone wins.

10) Call few weeks after the project is complete to find out if everything is OK, then send a post card every four months featuring a home decorating tip, lawn care tip, etc. The woman of the house will think you're "such a nice guy" - and you better believe she'll spread the word.

JoAnna concludes with this; "If more people took the time to do what Tracey did here - talk about her feelings and offer helpful suggestions,perhaps we'd see some change. Having a problem with a company? Do them and their future customers a favor and write a letter or give a call. Let them know what you expected and how they let you down.

"And if they did a good job, let them know how they exceeded your expectations and give them some praise so they can tell their teams what good job they did. Perhaps if we, as customers, took a more active role in evaluating the quality of the interactions we have with companies, the quality would go up."

JoAnna Brandi is Publisher of the Customer Care Coach® a weekly training program on mastering "The Art and Science of Exquisite Customer Care." She is the author of several books and a bi-weekly email tip on customer caring. You can sign up for her FREE tip at www.customercarecoach.com

Tracey Paradiso is the editor of Customer Care Coach® and the author of this article. You can reach her Tracey@customercarecoach.com.


Life does not always go the way we'd like it to go.

There is a bump in the road. Things fall down and sprout up.People - sometimes our best friend or someone we have worked closely with - do something out of character for them ... at least we think so. 'Stuff' happens.

Anonymous suggests . . .

"Instead of cursing at darkness, light a candle."

The RJm Story

"How To REALLY Do Marketing Right!" is a sub-title I've used in my writings for a decade and a half. Or more.

It came about because many of the 'how to ...' papers didn't do a very good job in talking direct marking as a discipline. A complete discipline.

Are you seeking a different answer? Maybe an outrageous thought? Something truly not within your current marketing and sales circle?

Maybe I can help. By bringing to you and your organization a point of view undoubtedly different than yours. To help you see through the maze...the maze that is your every day business.

Interested? Send an E-mail to Ray@RayJutkins.com or phone 1+805+771-8300.

Thank you.

The Works of Marketing with Ray INDEX

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