Contributed by Diana Herzan - Updated November 14, 2016
Not Returning Phone Calls!
Who Is Worse? Contractors Or Customers?
The oldest complaint on the books…. I can’t get them to call me back! Customers have been frustrated over this forever! It’s the number one customer complaint, heard over and over and over again! But wait, you might also be surprised at how many contractors mutter a similar mantra about their customers not returning their phone calls, either. Who is worse at this? Customers or Contractors?
As the owner of The Service Guide, I talk to both consumers and contractors every day, both with their own legitimate sets of frustrations and complaints. Because I can clearly see both sides of the fence, I thought that by sharing this information, it might be helpful for both "sides" to see things from someone else’s perspective. In every service related project, regardless of the size, the contractor – customer relationship has the most to do with how things turn out in the end. Both parties share an equal role in doing their part to “guide” the project to success. To that means, I thought it might be useful to present a little "perspective." You ultimately decide who is worse at returning phone calls… and who can improve….the contractor or the customer? Or maybe both?
Customers - Have you been here before?
You make a call to a company for service or information, leave a message, and no one calls you back. Or, you are waiting for an estimate from a company representative that has already been to your home, and you get nothing, no estimate, no return phone call. Worse yet, the company is already doing work for you, problems arise, and you cannot get a call returned. It makes you wonder! Do they not want your business? Are they so busy they can afford not to call you back? Is your job too small? Do you live too far away? Is the company bailing on you? Is it you? What? Don’t you wonder how some of these businesses actually stay in business with that kind of business conduct?
The truth is that there are any number of reasons, some of them, potentially legitimate, as to why they are not returning your calls. In some cases, however, there is no acceptable reason for the void. It’s just simply neglect or better known as an “exercise of poor judgment.” The bigger truth is that there really is no excuse good enough to skip out on this piece of customer servicing. No reason makes sense to a customer! Things do happen that prevent someone from calling back within a reasonable amount of time. But, when they do, the only right thing for a company to do is to call the customer as soon as they are able, apologize, explain the delay, and address the reason the customer had called. Wouldn’t you be forgiving as a customer, if you were treated that way? The answer, for the most part, is YES.
So, companies take heed to this reminder. A simple return phone call can provide your customer with precisely the right kind of service experience they deserve and can also provide you with miles and miles of return, yourself. Companies that miss the boat on treating every caller as a potential customer is missing much more than a boat. Even if you don’t anticipate ever doing business with someone, you never know who they live next door to, or who they are related to or know. By treating them well, you are much more likely to launch your possibilities with others they know than by squelching any hopes by missing this ever so important “customer touch point.”
Contractors…. How many times has this happened to you?
But, do customers ever stop to think how frustrated Contractors can get for the same reason? Contractors scratch their heads, as well, over the fact that customers won’t return their phone calls, either! Try putting yourself in their shoes for a moment. Their company receives a call from a customer inquiring of their services. They ask for an estimate on a home project. The company sends out a salesperson who completes the estimate, on time, professionally, and as requested. The visit seems to have gone quite positively. A good exchange of information between the homeowner and the salesperson.
The salesperson completely understands a customers’ need to get other bids and ponder over the information collected. When he calls back to follow up, the homeowner won’t return the call? Perplexed himself, the contractor often doesn’t know if he should try again or if the homeowner decided not to hire him. Although there are clear exceptions, most contractors do not want to become a pest to you. They only want to put closure to the process that was started, and certainly do hope to win your business. Most contractors understand they will win some and lose some, but it’s fair to let them know either way, so they can feel good about moving forward or moving on. Maybe the homeowner has not decided which company they will choose? Or, maybe they have decided not to go with that company? Even so, why not call him back? It is shocking how many consumers play the same game with the contractors that they complain about themselves. It’s a mystery, really, why some choose not to return a phone call.
The truth is here that as consumers, perhaps, the consumer is “always right,” but not always so respectful. It is important to keep in mind that contractors and companies are only doing their jobs. They are also people, like you and me. Another reminder that is fair to mention is that it costs the company money and time to come to your home and provide you with the information you have asked for. When they call you to follow up, what they want to know is whether or not they will be able to do business with you, or if there is any other information you may still need. That’s all. A simple return call could save much time and agony on both ends. It’s equally frustrating for the contractor who hopes to win your business, works hard to provide you with information that will help you make a comfortable decision, and then does not receive the respect of a return phone call.
Some homeowners have told me they feel bad having to tell someone they chose another company, so ignoring them seemed easier. Easier for who? If you ever find yourself in that scenario in the future, please keep in mind that the contractor who came to your home would much rather be told you chose another company than to be told nothing at all. They can take it, trust me! So homeowners, heed this message, too. Whether you choose to hire, not to hire, postpone your project, or change your mind, all together, try and think of the contractor in terms of a professional and a person. Treat them the same way you would want them to treat you.
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