Business is in the dumps, too many contractors bid-ding too few jobs, or business is booming, there 
aren’t enough hours in the day or enough personnel to put on projects.  Take your pick.  Overall, 
business is up across the nation, but that’s an average and right now pertains more to both 
residential and commercial construction.  
We’ve talked about what’s up and what’s down in previous issues along with major problems like 
trying to get insurance without selling your first-born child.  Insurance is an issue over which you 
have little control.  In many instances, the cost of insurance is a product of a number of things, 
including an increase in construction defect law-suits and a downturn in the stock market.  
Another issue that threatens the industry is a haphazard approach to customer service.  This is an issue over which we all exert control.  Unfortunately, when times are good, work is performed on a stepped up assembly line pace.  Finish one job and go to the next.  Following up to see if the customer is happy with the work, ends up getting put on the back burner.  In fact, many designers have sheepishly told me that they don’t talk to a customer after the job is finished and paid for unless there is a problem.  Reacting to complaints is not customer service.  
Years ago, a three-generation contractor told me that the reputation of his company was worth more than the price of any one job.  In other words, they will make sure the customer is satisfied with the job even if they lose money in the process.  Obviously, you can’t afford to lose money on every project, but then again, you can’t afford unhappy customers either.  The customer has ideas, and you put all those ideas, or wants, into a design that they will be happy with.  While this description may sound like what you do is all about the design process, it’s in reality a service business.  Customer service doesn’t start with the first meeting and stop when payment is received.  
There’s a difference between an order taker and a customer service representative.  What do customers really want?  Do they want to make a statement with the building?  Do they want a building that has a long service life that will also cut his energy costs?  If they are willing to put the extra money in to get a premium project, the door has just been opened to accessories ranging from skylights to upgraded doors and windows.  
Customer service doesn’t kick-in when work is slow, it’s a full time job, and it comes from the top.  If you adapt the attitude that the customer is the most important person in your organization, your employees will take your lead.  Take the extra time to make sure your customer is happy and satisfied, even if you need to move on and get started on the next job.  A satisfied customer is one of your best assets, your reputation builder, and could turn out to be your best sales-person as well

Marcus Dodson
editor & publisher
Customer Service
Keeping Your Current Customers 
Happy Can Keep You in the Black