It’s the holiday season. Everyone is busier than usual, working long hours and trying to juggle multiple projects before taking time off. Despite the chaos of the season, it’s imperative to remember that how you relate to your potential customers and colleagues still comes first.
Here’s a little story.
A few months ago our home’s heating system started to malfunction. After hundreds of dollars in repairs, we decided it was time to replace our 103 year old boiler heating system. We knew this home repair would be costly (almost $12,000), so we started soliciting bids for the elaborate project. First, the old system would need to be removed by specially trained asbestos handlers. Second, the new system would get installed by patching it into our existing grid work of water pipes.
The two-week project just finished. Thankfully, I’m writing this post in a warm, heated home.
Let’s get back to the bidding process. Since we knew we were making a huge investment in our home, we wanted to get several opinions and estimates from various local HVAC vendors.
Phone calls, visits and emails filled lunch breaks and evening hours for a few weeks.
Since you don’t replace your home’s heating system very often, we weren’t exactly savvy consumers. We relied on the information coming from the professionals who were hoping to win our job. Some visited and spoke to us about the process for hours, others sent brochures in the mail.
Each vendor had a unique way of trying to assist and win our business.
In my mind, I chose who I wanted to do the work before even having one estimate in my hand. Of course, the cost was important, but, this vendor won me over without even giving me a dollar amount. He visited my home multiple times, agreed to meet with the asbestos removal team to make sure they could work in tandem to get the job done and he communicated regularly. He replied to text messages, emails and phone calls within minutes and hours.
His customer service skills won me over.
Whether you’re a writer, marketer, blogger — or any other type of professional who depends on securing new contracts or business on a regular basis — remember this story. Your ability to communicate effectively, answer questions in a timely manner and be sympathetic to your customer’s needs is critical.
I’m laughing right now because I forgot to tell you about one of the bidders. I think it’s been about six weeks since that company sent a representative to my home. I still don’t have a bid.
Remember: It’s going into winter in Iowa. There’s snow on the ground. Having heat in my home is essential. They knew I was prepared to choose a vendor ASAP.
If that company ever does get back to me, I’ll send them a photo of my new heating system and say, “No thanks. I’ve already found someone to take care of the job.”.
If you snooze, you lose, I believe the saying goes.
As we push forward into a new year, it’s time to think about your own communication skills. Do you reply to emails in a reasonable amount of time? Do you return phone messages? Have you left any potential customers lingering?
Are your communication and customer service skills costing you business or helping you grow? Don’t leave your potential customers out in the cold.
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