If you think about it, customer service is everywhere in our daily lives.
What about the hotel room I am writing this from that smells like someone mowed through a carton of lung darts an hour before I got there? That’s not-so-great customer service.
What about the vet where I take my dogs that more times than not lately can’t see the beagles until three, four and five days later, and always uses the excuse they are short a doctor? Here’s a clue, hire another doctor.
Or a recent survey that reveals one in four of those app-based delivery drivers tastes/takes part of your food before they show up at your house with it. I’m guessing this little tidbit will be stored in your brain for a good while.
On the flipside, there’s the local plumbing contractor that came to the house recently to check on a possible kitchen sink blockage related to the garbage disposer. No blockage was found. The tech was there for a good 20 minutes. The charge? Nothing.
In my travels throughout the industry over the years I’ve learned a little something about customer service. In fact, I absolutely love learning about different strategies related to it, and enjoy observing the good and the bad (and more times than you would think, the really bad) of customer service in my everyday life.
In pme sister publication Supply House Times this month, I write about a Chicago-based distributor that is not a player in our industry, but will be speaking at the end of September at the American Supply Association’s 50th anniversary celebration. One phrase/motto this company’s chairman and CEO frequently uses in describing what his company is about is “surprise and delight the customer.” I may end up running this interview in these pages here, simply because the advice he gives is applicable to any walk of life. At a minimum, head over to PMEngineer.com where I’ve posted the interview — one of the favorite ones I’ve done in a long time.
I also was at another company anniversary celebration recently where a video was shown that sums up this particular company’s values, which center on family and, wait for it, superior customer service. My wife looked at me after the video played and asked, “Is this really how this company is?” My simple reply, having previously been to this company’s offices, to her was, “That’s no BS (not sure I used the abbreviation, though).”
Customer service comes at us in many different forms. As a journalist, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people never return a phone call or email. That falls into the customer service category. Taking a minute to drop someone a quick note after a visit/meeting — also customer service-related.
On Page 34 is our annual Plumbing Engineer of the Year award winner. This time around, it’s Henderson Engineers Senior Plumbing Designer John Gregory, who knows a thing or two about customer service in the engineering community. Gregory loves working in the field on his projects, which brings with it a distinct customer-service lesson.
“To understand what you are starting with, you need to get into the field and verify the existing conditions and talk with the end user and get some input from them on how they use it, so you have an understanding of what you are providing them so it functions in a way that helps them best,” he says.
Veteran pme columnist John Siegenthaler talks about a creative geothermal solution used in the construction of his daughter’s home (Page 18). Great customer service even extends to family.
I can’t wait to see what Dave Yates, our newest pme columnist, has to tell us in next month’s issue about one of his many projects. He’s a walking billboard for going above and beyond and doing what’s right by customer.
Are you and your firm all in when it comes to the nuances of customer service? If not, it’s never too late to start.