Service providers have two main jobs in my mind: pleasing the customer and performing the best possible service. A key element to doing these two jobs well is solid communication skills – the ability to communicate your service (what can be expected, not overselling, etc.) and communicate effectively with the client so they are well informed throughout the period where the service is taking place.
It does become a major disappointment when you pay for a job to be done and the most basic principles of good business are ignored or not held as a priority.
For example, this weekend I went to a trusted local car shop to get four new tires on my car. I set an appointment to ensure I could keep to my tight schedule for the day. I was told the job would take 1-1.5 hours. So I went to a nearby Starbucks and had a lovely time catching up on some reading and writing. At 1.75 hours in, I walked back. During my walk, I wondered why I still hadn’t received a call and hoped my car would be ready.
Once at the shop I walked up to the counter and asked for an update since it had been almost two hours. The guy wiggled and informed me, “..some things had to be shuffled around. An inspection job came in… We just started on your car it’ll be at least another hour, probably closer to 1.5 hours.” If my car hadn’t already been stripped of the old tires, I would have canceled the job and left.
Disappointment rose in me and here’s why… It would have been so simple to call and let me know something had come up, there’d be a delay, and ask my permission to continue. I would have appreciated the honesty and forethought. Instead, I felt disrespected and unappreciated as a customer.
Communication is key to operating a good business. This simple practice can lead to repeat business which means long-term profit. One of the most common pieces of feedback I get as a service professional is how good I am at keeping the customer informed. If I get behind for the day, I tell the client what happened, reassure them they are a priority, and let them know a new date to expect the work. This way they are never left wondering, they have renewed validation of my job performance, and our relationship continues to be good.
If you are a service provider, I encourage you to take a step back today and evaluate how your business is operating. This includes the way employees represent you. If you see an area for improvement, then put in a little training time with your people to build their communication skills. Offer example stories they can relate to, such as, “Have you ever been to a car shop… how did it make you feel?” This way, your people can relate to the experience and see directly how important this topic is. Your training on “How to Communicate Effectively” can then be received and implemented. This could be a more profitable investment long term – even above buying more advertising!