Thursday, July 25, 2013

Four Pieces Of Romantic Advice That Apply To Customer Service

This is going to sound strange to some of you reading this, but one of the best ways to provide excellent customer service is to view your interactions with your customers like a relationship.  If anything businesses should already be treating customer service as a way to develop a relationship with their customers.  Once you start looking at customer service from this perspective, the way you view it will never be the same.  Apply some of the best love life advice you give to your friends to your customer service policies, and you'll have some happy and loyal customers, as well as some great reviews, like Custom Smart Homes reviews.

Don’t come on too strong
There's nothing more off putting than dealing with an overzealous employee when you're trying to shop.  When your customer walks in don't having your employees rush up to them to tell them about current sales and deals.  Give your customer time to settle and look around, and after they've had time to relax have your employees approach them.

Treat them like they're special
Too many businesses make the mistake of viewing their customers as numbers instead of actual people.  Treat your customers the way you would want to be treated when you're dealing with a business.  Make an effort to learn their name and remember their orders if they request the same product or service frequently.  Your customers will definitely take notice of your behavior.  

Show your appreciation for them
Some businesses offer new customers and clients amazing discounts on products and services, then immediately stop them once they know that they have their business.  Always let your customers know you appreciate their business, either through a rewards program, discounts, or by just saying that you appreciate their business.  A small 10% discount or mentioning that they're one of your favorite customers can do a lot.

Admit when you're wrong
Some business actually have a rule on their books that tells their employees to never implicate that the company has done anything wrong when they're dealing with customers.  Everybody makes mistakes, even businesses, and if your company messes something up they need to tell the truth to their customers.  Apologizing for messing up an order shows that you acknowledge your mistake, and that you're sorry that you may have upset the customer.

Tips For Responding To Negative Ratings and Reviews Online

As a business owner you want to do whatever you can to ensure that your customers are getting the best products and services possible, but sometimes you won't be able to please every single customer that walks through your door.  Ratings and reviews have become a way for people to tell others about their experiences with businesses, and thanks to the internet they've become an essential tool for consumers. 

Custom Smart Homes ratings are usually very positive, but some businesses haven't been as lucky.  When you receive a bad rating online you may be eager to reply, but some businesses don't use the best practices for responding to negative ratings.  If you're determined to respond to some negative ratings are reviews your customers have made, make sure you follow these rules to ensure that you're doing it correctly.

Have a plan

If you don't have a way to fix whatever the customer said was negative about your business, don't bother to respond to their rating or review.  Simply saying that the customer is wrong and that your business is great won't do anything to help your image, you need to show the negative rater and other readers that you're doing what you can to ensure that same problem doesn't occur again.  If they're complaining about customer service, say that you're currently reviewing your customer service techniques.  If they're complaining about your product or service, say that you're working on a way to fix it.

Be Timely

If you're noticing a bad rating that was posted a year ago, don't write out a response to it.  When it comes to responding to negative ratings or reviews, timing is everything.  If you respond to old ones the account that posted it may no longer be active, or people reading it will wonder why it took you so long to respond to it.  If you're going to respond make sure that it's to something that was posted recently, otherwise you'll be wasting your time.

Make Different Responses

One of the worst things a company can do when they're responding to negative ratings and reviews is to use the same response for each one.  Copied and pasted responses don't look good to others that are reading them, and they make it seem like your company truly doesn't care about how the customers feel.  If you're doing to respond sit down and think of an individual response for each individual review/rating.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Three Common Construction Problems (And Solutions To Them That Work)

When you're working in the construction business, you're going to have to get used to dealing with a few setbacks.  CustomSmart Homes uses modular construction to build our homes, and we even still experience some issues with this highly efficient construction method.  Construction is the kind of business that relies on a variety of people in order to complete a job, and when you factor in other things like weather,  material management, site development, and client financing, a lot of things could cause delays.  If you find yourself having some of these common construction problems, follow our advice to ensure that you handle them the best way possible.

Weather Delays 

Weather plays a major factor in site building a home.  It has less of an impact on modular construction.  With modular construction the main sections of the home are built in a factory that is unaffected by rain, snow, or temperature extremes.  So even when site work and  foundation work cannot proceed because of inclement weather,  the construction schedule still moves forward, which saves time.  When it is time to set the home, a  weather window of one - two days is needed to get the house set on the foundation and protected from the weather.  But if there are long periods of rain there will be delays because excavation, grading, and foundation work cannot proceed.  The possibility of weather delays should always be factored into the timeline especially during the rainiest winter months in Tennessee.  CustomSmart will always have a discussion with our clients about realistic expectations on a completion date for their  home and how the weather can cause delays.

Unexpected Materials Shortage

There isn't much you can do for your construction project if you don't have materials to build with.  The best way to deal with a shortage of materials is to plan ahead to try to decrease the chances of not having the building materials you need.  This is especially true of special order materials.  CustomSmart Homes builds completely custom homes and out clients come to us with many special requests for  specific materials and finishes.  Because we us modular construction,  we build the entire house "on paper" before it goes into production.  Everything must be preplanned and thought through before construction even begins.  This eliminates a lot of the delays caused by requests for special materials.  But, even with good preplanning there are times our material suppliers cause delays.  since the great recession, many manufacturers have cut back on production capacity and many distributors have cut back on inventory, so unexpected materials shortages and long lead times can affect the construction time line.  Once again, CustomSmart Homes will discuss this possibility with our clients on the front end of the project and factor this in to our timeline.

Unexpected Site Development Costs

Most clients don't like hearing that their project is going to cost more than they expected, so it's important to try to help them plan for the unexpected and reserve some money for contingencies.  An area that this is most likely to occur is in area of site development costs.  Site development costs include excavation, driveways, power, water, septic systems, and wells.  While construction budgets are always created with realistic expectations, unexpected conditions do arise.  There could be rock which is costly to remove,  the power company may chose to run power to the property the long way because neighbors will not allow easements, the health department may require a more expensive septic system then usual due to poor soil conditions, or the well may have to be drilled deeper to obtain quality water.  The best way to handle unexpected conditions is to reserve monies for the unexpected.  There is a tendency for families to allocate all their funds for the things they want in their home, leaving no reserves.  At CustomSmart Homes we talk with our clients about the unexpected and ask that they reserve funds to easily handle additional work that may arise because of unexpected conditions.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Three Phrases Employees Should Never Say to a Customer

If there’s one thing that Lizzio Development Group knows, it’s good customer service.  Customer Service is essential for every business regardless of what industry they're working on, and your employees should be trained on what behavior is acceptable and what isn't.  Sometimes phrases that seem innocuous to us can seem very rude to some customers.  When you're dealing with your customers, be sure to avoid using these phrases.

Calm Down

When a customer is angry about something telling them to calm down is one of the worst things you could say to them.  When you say the words "calm down", they hear "your feelings aren't justified", and they'll only get angrier from there.  Sometimes all people need to calm down is to rant.  Let the customer finish their tirade, and after you're sure their finished engage them in a conversation to solve the problem.

I don't know

You may just be the guy working the cashier, but to the customer you're the guy who should know the answer to their questions.  Customers expect every employee to be knowledgeable about the store's products and services.  Hearing an "I don't know" from an employee makes the customer think that the employee is incompetent, or that the business doesn't train their employees well.  Instead of saying I don't know, say "Let me find out".  Those four words let the customer know that you're dedicated to helping them, and willing to learn information to help them.

Hold On

Even if you have a line of customers out the door, satisfying the customer in front of you should be your top priority.  If you tell a customer to hold on so that you can serve someone else, they're going to think that you don't care about their patronage.  Instead of saying hold on, ask to excuse yourself for a moment and assure them that their needs are important to you.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Three Tips For Improving Customer Interactions

At Custom Smart Homes we know about what makes a good business successful.  Having outstanding products and services will always help, but when it comes to professional success having good customer service is key.  If you want to improve the way you and your employees talk to customers, follow these tips

Know Your Customers

If a regular walked up to you at work, would you remember what goods or services they usually ask for?  Would you be able to remember their name? Returning customers like coming to your business, and they'll be even more inclined to keep coming back and to recommend you to their friends if you and your employees are friendly and personable with them.  A friendly smile and a greeting that contains their name can do wonders for customer service.

Never Argue

A customer calls your customer service line claiming that she paid too much for an item.  They thought that they had a good deal, but they came home and saw a sales flyer that said that the item was 20% off.  You're almost certain that she purchased the item after the sale ended, but she still insists on getting her money back.  Some customer service workers would try to explain to the person why they're wrong, but that wouldn't resolve anything.  You should never get into an argument with a customer over the price of something, and you should do your best to make sure that it doesn't get to that point.  An argument with a customer is an unwinnable one, and you could end up losing their business if they're offended.  Instead try to diffuse the situation without resulting to bickering.

Don't Shy Away From Special Services

Today there are a lot of retailers that refuse to cater to special requests from customers because of their company policy.  The fact that a customer cared about your services enough to ask for something different shows that they're loyal and a special exception to your usual customer service rules is worth their patronage.  Remember that  it's only an exception for a single customer, and that you aren't making a new policy

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Three Tips For Saving Money When You’re Planning To Build A New Home

There are a lot of Tennessee residents who want Custom Smart Homes[BL1]  to build their new home, but feel like they don't have the money to make it work within their budget.  We provide our clients with a list of financial resources that may be able to help them pay for their new home, but there are some things you can do during the planning process that can save you a lot of money on home building costs.

Look At "Problem Lots"

Everybody wants to build their house on a flat stretch of land, but if you build your home near a hillside or fill-in property you may be able to save a lot of money on land costs.  Generally lots that aren't "ideal" (near/on a hillside, fill-in lots, narrow lots, etc) cost a lot more than others, and if you choose a lot that's on the off-beaten path you can save a considerable amount of money.

Go For Lots Or Land A Little Further From The Town Center

Some people have always dreamed of owning a waterfront property, but property that's right near a lake or river can be expensive.  If you've always wanted to live close to the water choose a lot that's a little further from a town center.  You'll still be near water, but you won't have to pay for lakefront property prices at a premium. 

Build With The Neighborhood In Mind

You've always wanted a home that could double as a mansion, but building your mini-mansion in a neighborhood full of mid-sized homes could hurt you in the future.  You may think that having a big home in a neighborhood full of smaller homes could boost its value if you sell it in the future, but doing that will actually have the opposite effect.  The value of your home will depend more on the homes around it than the home itself, and your resale price won't be anywhere near as much as you'd think it would be.