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POOL & SPA INDUSTRY

Keeping Your Customers Satisfied In this article, Chris Hayes looks at some of the key items that can ensure harmonious customer relations and highlights how their absence can create extreme issues that can be costly, both in terms of money and undue stress

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ell-run companies succeed because they have established outstanding work practices, procedures and communication networks to demonstrate their excellence. Not only will their customers be impressed with the quality of their work, but their administration and communication will also be well-tuned. Having great quality products and services are an absolute must, but if customers are let down by empty promises, poor timekeeping and ineffective communication, this can turn what should have been a happy customer into somebody that not only chooses to complain to their family and friends, but could also give negative online feedback that may be seen by potential new customers. BISHTA and SPATA require their respective members to build to industry standards and to abide by the applicable Association’s ‘Code of Ethics’. Through discussing good practice, various practical resources have been generated from member feedback to share what works well for them. For SPATA, these include project planners to capture the detail wanted by the clients, sample contracts, communication forms, commissioning sheets and handover certificates, all of which are available in the online members’ hub.

YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION Many businesses can turn to their satisfied customers as their best form of advertising when it comes to winning new business. Either the customer recommends your company, they may provide an endorsement online, or they may be willing to have a prospective customer shown around their home to see your completed work. Online searches are an ever-growing resource for consumers to research their purchases. With this in mind, it is imperative that companies think of their websites as their 24-hour shop window. A company website, in most cases, is the first impression a customer has of your business, so if it has great imagery from your installations, runs smoothly and meets the customer’s expectations, they are more likely to make an enquiry. Also, consider your marketing materials, everything that promotes your company should have common branding and provide customers with your company credentials to choose your business rather than a competitor. Gathering and following up on leads is also imperative, but it is often surprising (and

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concerning) to hear how many customers claim they have made an enquiry and never received a response. When you weigh up the average amount of money a company spends on advertising and marketing along with the potential value of a lost lead, it’s surprising how much money can be wasted from not having effective customer relationship management (CRM) in place.

verbal conversation may be difficult to recall or can be challenged by the other person who has a different recollection of events! It is possible that there have been delays through inclement weather or possibly with an equipment supply issue. Have you been on top of the discussion with the client?

GET TO KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER

• Do you provide a decent specification that is easy for the client to understand? • How robust is your contract, and is it clear what your payment terms are? • At handover, do you get the client to sign off the project (confirming any snagging, if applicable)?

Building a business relationship with your client is the key to a happy customer. Getting to know what their expectations are from the project and ensuring this information is recorded in writing so as to avoid any misunderstandings is a further development of your CRM. It helps if you ask the right questions; about other work they may have had completed as this will give you an insight into their expectations. Depending on the nature and complexity of the project, check who is to be the main point of contact; is it the owner, an architect, a main contractor? Explain what system is being employed to deal with variations to the contract. Manage the client’s expectations regarding what is being provided for the budget and be realistic about timescales for completion. If there is an end date that the client has in mind, it is essential to meet it, or identify that it may need adjusting. Once you have been awarded a contract, provide the client with documentation that is clear for them to understand. It is very easy to skip over an essential piece of detail; most domestic clients are unlikely to comprehend design drawings, so make sure they know what they are getting from the outset, this will save any costly corrections or timeline delays at a later date.

ARE ALL PARTS OF THE PROJECT AS GOOD AS THE BEST BITS? The project looks great, but does the plantroom match? An untidy, poorly laid out plantroom can be unsightly, but can also become an issue for ongoing maintenance, service and repair. How good have you been with your communication? Is it always written, as a

GET THE PAPERWORK RIGHT

IF THERE SHOULD BE A PROBLEM… Do you deal with it while it is manageable, or do you ignore it? Where the issue is with one of your subcontractors, be aware that you are still responsible for their actions, and the client will expect you to deal with the matter – they are the customer! BISHTA and SPATA members are aware that they can access free support services as members, these include; • The Stakeholder account is in place to safeguard monies for the members and customers. Non-members can request this service from solicitors, but please note there will be a fee for this service. • Both trade associations can offer Alternative Dispute Resolution through mediation, or signpost to adjudication services. And if legal advice is needed, then help can be obtained from Wright Hassall LLP. Our industry helps to turn so many dreams into reality, and the vast majority of the projects usually go very smoothly, with happy clients. But on the rare occasions when something goes wrong, there are always important lessons to be learnt to avoid any repetition. BISHTA / SPATA 01264 356211 / 01264 356210 www.bishta.co.uk / www.spata.co.uk

Through discussing good practice, various practical resources have been generated from member feedback to share what works well for them” SPN October 2020 31 02/11/2020 22:27

Profile for Aqua Publishing Ltd

SPN (Swimming Pool News) October 2020  

Informing the pool and spa industry since 1959. Covering the UK's wet leisure market, SPN (Swimming Pool News) is the UK's longest running a...

SPN (Swimming Pool News) October 2020  

Informing the pool and spa industry since 1959. Covering the UK's wet leisure market, SPN (Swimming Pool News) is the UK's longest running a...