Fans of the iconic band Chicago will recognize this as the title of one of their most famous songs. However, for most service based companies that I encounter, the answer is apparently not! I am certain that I am not the only customer who has grown weary of being delayed when trying to spend money with many companies.
How many years have we been forced to adjust our schedules to suit the satellite and cable companies? To most of us “sometime between 8 am and 5 pm” is not a time – it’s the whole day! Checkout lanes at grocery and warehouse stores seem to be getting longer all of the time as fewer lanes are open. At least when you do get to the cashier, you can actually interact with a human being. That’s more than you can accomplish in the first few minutes when calling most national companies.
Today I was attempting to contact a national hotel chain by phone. The first thing that the answering machine told me to do was to visit their website. (Translation: we’d rather not talk to you at all!). After spending too much time responding to prompts, I was told to “please wait while we transfer your call”. (Wait is such a negative word. It would not have been any more difficult to say “we appreciate your patience while we transfer your call”. While this may seem trivial, choosing the correct words can be mood makers or mood breakers for the customer).
Why the rant you ask? I think that respecting a customer’s time represents a great opportunity for service minded flooring contractors to differentiate from what has come to be considered the norm. Remember that you are not competing for the customer’s attention with other flooring dealers only. When she calls or visits your store, she may have just come from the grocery store or just gotten off of the phone with the cable company. She is judging you against every service provider that she touches.
Acknowledge that time is a currency for many busy people. They are no more interested in wasting their day than they are in wasting their money. Every store seemingly has a price guarantee. Consider giving the customer a promptness guarantee. Use terms such as prompt, timely, dependable, etc. in your advertising and promotions. (Many of you may be performing in such a fashion currently, but are you telling the world or keeping it a well kept secret?). Once you state this however, you must be able to walk the walk. When you actually perform as promised, you will find a growing percentage of the market that will respond favorably. This is a great way to differentiate and build your business.
Price alone will bring a customer to you only once. A prompt, dependable and fairly priced customer experience will have clients both returning to purchase for themselves, as well as referring your firm to their friends.
Ask yourself this question: does my business really know what time it is?