Customers are the lifeblood of your business


No1 is presenting you with our new EDM series where we talk about suggestions of how to prepare for forecasted changes in the construction market, and discuss solutions that can help you and your business to survive, improve and grow.

On this Chapter: Improve your customer service:

Providing excellent customer service is essential for retaining existing customers and attracting new ones. Make sure you respond promptly to customer inquiries, communicate clearly and provide high-quality work.

Your goal should always be to get good reviews and referrals. Don’t be afraid to ask for a referral as you should be proud of your work and your client should also feel the same.

Improving customer service is crucial for any business to succeed, and roofing & building companies in Australia are no exception.

Here are some ways a roofing or building company can improve its customer service:

Communicate effectively and Personalise your service

Ensure that you communicate with your customers clearly, promptly, and professionally. Keep them informed of the status of their project, any changes in plans, and expected timelines.

Customer Experience (commonly referred to as CX), includes all the things a business does on a daily basis to put their customers first, serve their needs and manage their journey to the highest level of satisfaction.

How do you measure CX?

Measuring something that is ultimately short-lived or even temporary like the positive experience you and your company create for your customers is fairly hard to imagine.

Best practice calls for three guiding principles to help optimise CX measurement:

  • Measure the customer experience at the journey level, rather than at the level of touchpoints or overall satisfaction.
  • Invest in hardwired technology that captures feedback on a daily basis from multiple channels, integrating survey results and other data into comprehensive dashboards.
  • Cultivate a mindset of continuous improvement at all levels.

When British company PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited) conducted a survey (PwC Future of Customer Experience Survey 2017/18) with 15,000 people across 12 countries they found 73% of consumers believe CX is an important factor in their purchasing decisions.

In terms of dollars and cents, 43% of respondents said they would pay more for greater convenience and 42% would pay more for friendly, welcoming customer service.

The power of CX was further reinforced by PwC’s finding that 65% of US customers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising.

Customer experience helps customers decide to purchase

Customer experience helps people decide between buying options - souce: PwC Future of Customer Experience Survey 2017/18

Put yourself in their shoes and communicate with them to your own level of expectation. The old saying ‘under promise and over deliver’ is an important tool in setting the level of expectation as it provides your business with the opportunity to exceed your customers level of expectation.

Having said that, it also has the significantly added benefit of ensuring that you don’t do the opposite and ‘over promise and under deliver’. If your company does this, you are setting yourself up to fail and creating a bad reputation for yourself and your business.

Setting up automatically generated emails to let your potential customer know that you have received their enquiry (from your website) is a great way to keep a prompt and professional customer experience. If you do, make sure that your email includes:

  • Your contact details
  • The timeframe that you will contact them

(then make sure that you do contact them within this timeframe or sooner if possible)

Additionally, for the times when you are being contacted directly by phone, aim to have the following in place:

  • If you have someone taking your calls and booking your appointments, make sure that they:
    • Clearly state your business name when answering the call
    • Clearly state their name
    • Following this should be a question to engage your customer, something like ‘how can I help you?’ - if they said their name, always use their name for example,’how can I help you John?’ By adding their name you are demonstrating that you are listening and you make them feel valued and appreciated.
    • Once you understand their needs and so long as your business is in a position to assist them, ask them for their details including full name, phone number, email address and project address. Read these back to them after to reassure them and to have the chance to check that you have the correct details
  • If you are taking your own calls:
    • Always make sure that you have a clear and professional voicemail message. This message should include your name, your business name, asking them to leave a brief message and your email address should they wish to contact you by email.
    • Set aside times during the day to listen to your voicemail so that you are able to contact your potential customers promptly.
    • If you have your hands full or are on the tools, it might be better to let the call go through to voicemail so that you can call them back when you have more time and you can make notes of the conversation.

By understanding your customer's needs, preferences, and concerns you are able to personalise your offering.

Not only does this set you apart from your competitors, it also makes your quotation and service offer aligned with their needs. Should you win the project, you will then have the confidence that your scope of work meets their expectation.

At all times when you are communicating with your customers, speak clearly and professionally. Never assume that they don’t understand the work that you will be carrying out.

They could have experience or knowledge of the scope of work, and what’s more they are going to want to feel like they are part of the project.

When it comes to written communication, having email templates created to assist in the speed of response and the consistency of the message can be helpful.

If you set these up, you can leave the spaces to add the necessary personal touch to each email. For example, you could leave the space for:

  • Their name
  • The project address
  • Reference to the quotation being attached - your quotation should always include your payment terms and method of payment
  • Availability to start the project
  • Estimated time for completion

Make sure that your email signature includes your contact details and links to your website and your Socials.

These days, your email signature is very much like your business card. Please expect that your customers will forward your email to friends and family if they are happy with your work and recommend your services.

The harsh reality for businesses is customers have never expected more when it comes to CX. The State of Customer Experience in Australia 2023 Report found:

  • More than two-thirds of consumers believe companies are placing no, low or only moderate importance on delivering excellent customer service - with no changes over the past seven years
  • Six-in-ten Australian consumers had mixed experiences purchasing products and services in-store and online in the past year.
  • One-third of consumers have stopped purchasing from a company after a bad customer experience, due to lack of knowledgeable staff and no resolution of queries on first contact.
  • A majority of customers share their customers experiences in person and tell between one-to-five people. Negative experiences are shared more widely than positive experiences.
  • Over 70% of consumers surveyed said that speaking to a real person instead of a chatbot is highly important.
  • More consumers than ever are preferring to speak to a real person on the phone (80%) or via live chat (50%).
  • Company website/FAQs and live chats have become the top preferred channels for simple queries.

Be responsive

Respond to customer inquiries promptly, whether it's through phone, email, or social media. Make sure to follow up with customers to ensure that their concerns have been addressed.

Always relate your customers' experience back to your own experiences and your own expectations. By putting yourself in their shoes you are more likely to provide them with a memorable experience.

Being prompt is ultimately the basis for so many aspects of your successful business. Whether it is returning a phone call or email, or whether it is turning up on time for a quotation or starting the job, your promptness sets the stage for your customers decision making.

Asking your customers if they have any questions or if they need any additional information adds to the value that you offer. They are coming to you as the professional and it is up to you to demonstrate that you have the skills and service they require. Being responsive to their needs and questions is reassuring them that you are the right person for the job.

It is fair to say that if they have contacted you, they are likely to have contacted one or two other companies requesting a similar quotation. Getting in contact with them promptly or, as mentioned above, having an automated process that you action when stated is essential.

Your potential customer is coming to you because they require a service that you offer. Reassuring them by responding to their needs in a prompt and professional manner is setting you up for success. You would not want to be left waiting and nor do they.

Train your staff

Ensure that your staff are trained to provide excellent customer service. This includes being knowledgeable about your products and services, having good communication skills, and being able to handle difficult customers with patience and professionalism.

They are a reflection of you and your business. Should any of your staff work to a level that is not at your standard or expectation, it is you (and your business) that will ultimately wear the brunt of it.

Seeking feedback from your customers is a good way to gauge the level of satisfaction that they have with not just the quality of your work, but also and importantly the level of service that you and your team have provided. It provides you with the necessary tools to improve yourself and your business whilst also enabling and guiding your staff training.

Keep in mind that positive feedback is not just recognition for a job well done, but an opportunity for both referrals and recognition.

Recognition for your team members that have delivered above and beyond rewards them with a sense of pride and encourages continued behaviour. With the right training and recognition, you will build a team that you can trust and importantly one that you can trust to uphold your company's values and reputation.

Ongoing training should always be included as a regular part of your business. We live and work in an evolving market where our customers' needs and demands are changing. Social media has had a big impact in this area with ‘right now’ information and people sharing and posting their experiences.

There are different levels and styles of training and improvement you can offer your staff. Mentoring them is a very effective way of ensuring that your values and business ethics are learnt and adopted. It has the added benefit of creating trust and confidence in each other.

Top reasons why customers stop purchasing from your company

Main reason to stop purchasing from a company - source: The State of Customer Experience in Australia 2023 Report

Offer warranties and guarantees

Offering warranties or guarantees on your work can help build trust and confidence with your customers, as they know they can rely on your services in case anything goes wrong.

Always make sure that what you offer in terms of a warranty or guarantee is clearly communicated and presented at the time you quote your customer. If you have a website, make it easy to find.

With warranties and guarantees, always ensure that:

  • You have the correct and current details from the suppliers of your materials you install on file and that you update your terms accordingly
  • The details of your terms are clear and easy to interpret - leaving them ambiguous only opens up the possibility of questions or misinterpretation
  • Promote them - these are valuable tools in the marketing of your business
  • Include them with your quotations
  • Provide a warranty / guarantee document that includes all the items covered as well as your work upon completion of the project

Address customer complaints

If a customer has a complaint, take it seriously and address it promptly. Listen to their concerns, and work with them to find a solution that satisfies both parties.

Again, it is important to put yourself in their shoes and see the situation from both sides. Understanding the complaint properly will help you to find a solution. A bit of give and take is often necessary, after all finding an outcome that works for both parties is a successful outcome.

When you receive a complaint, take a moment and address it calmly. It is fairly likely that they are upset or agitated and if you respond in turn you will only escalate it and then make a resolution harder.

Keep calm and listen to what they are saying (or asking of you) and acknowledge them. Always use their name and make sure you understand what the complaint is before you offer a response or solution.

If you are required to go back to site to assess or remedy the problem, make an appointment time that works for them and is ideally as soon as possible. Make sure you turn up on time and when assessing the reason for the complaint, don’t offer excuses, just offer solutions.

When the complaint has arisen from your work, naturally you are responsible for fixing it. If you can fix it then and there that is the ideal solution. If not, and you need to come back, again set an appointment that is convenient for them and make sure that you turn up on time.

Sometimes, the complaint can arise from something unexpected, a miscommunication or an unrealised expectation. If you can remedy it at little cost to you then that will resolve the situation the fastest.

If it is clearly outside of the scope of works and additional materials are required, aim to come to a compromise so that they are happy with and will resolve the complaint.

Always remember that each job you complete is an opportunity for a referral. Being professional in the handling of the complaint and resolving it to their satisfaction can work in your favour.

People understand that things can go wrong, but it is how we handle ourselves when it does that is a true reflection of your character and the reliability of your business.

Seek customer feedback

Regularly seek feedback from your customers to understand their experience with your service. This can help you identify areas for improvement and make necessary changes.

Your customers are your source of income. Whilst some customers may only have one off projects, they do have family and friends that they can (and are likely to) talk about how happy they are with your work and service.

Naturally if they are disappointed, the opposite effect can take place so the importance of the suggestions above can really be seen to be beneficial.

Research shows that CX has never been a greater focus for businesses and those businesses who want to take lead are looking to customer satisfaction measurement tools (aka CX metrics) to seek customer feedback, make improvements that can lead to change and at the end of the day deliver a more satisfying customer journey.

CX Metrics

Consulting firm Lee Resource International conducted a study that unearthed a statistic that should send a shiver down the spine of any CX executive – for every customer complaint there are 26 other unhappy customers who remain silent.

It is not good enough to simply wait for customer complaints. Rather, successful organisations actively seek feedback so they can avoid the following outcomes that happen after a poor customer experience:

What happens after poor customer experience

When you take referrals one step further by actively asking for your customers' feedback you are putting yourself out there. Having said that, if you are ticking all the boxes, you should feel confident that your request will be well received.

Customer feedback can be obtained in a number of ways. Some of these include:

  • A Google Review - these are generally very personalised and come directly from the viewpoint of the customer which is something that other potential customers can relate to. Also, if they have left other positive reviews over the years, the credibility of their review increases and so does the positive image of your business.
  • Testimonials - these can be added to your website as well as your socials. You have the opportunity to also include a few photos of the project (with their permission of course) only adding further credibility and increasing the strength of the marketing. Again, like the Google Review these are very relatable and reassuring as they come from the viewpoint of the customer.
  • Text requests - these can be sent out following the completion of the project. They can say something as simple as “Thank you for the opportunity to complete your Roofing Project. If you could leave us a review using the link below it would be greatly appreciated.”
  • Facebook - customers can leave reviews on your Facebook page. This is a very live and raw way of bringing to the market your customers' experiences.

An important point to consider is negative reviews hurt less when you have hundreds of positive reviews.

Consumers are also smart enough to recognise an unnecessary negative comment when it is in a sea of positive reviews, and to an extent it only adds to your credibility and transparency by making a range of reviews available for your customers to view.

Your company is more likely to be well positioned to grow and be prosperous If you have structured you business and your team to:

  • Communicate effectively
  • Personalise the experience for each of your customers
  • Be responsive to the needs of your customers
  • Make clear your warranties and guarantees
  • Always address your customer complaints / concerns with sincerity and empathy
  • Seek feedback for personal and professional growth and development

Implementing these strategies, can improve your customer service and build a loyal customer base for your business in Australia.