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
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
"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
"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
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..."
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."
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
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
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..."
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
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
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