Monday, 2 February 2015

Moving House Customer Service and Communication

So here we are in our new house surrounded by packing boxes – towers of packing boxes.  We feel somewhat like the Collyer Brothers where if we make a false move, we’ll be crushed by all the stuff we have.

We had some work done on the house before we moved in and after the movers had pulled away and we were sitting slumped on the two chairs we were able to unearth, I got to thinking about the whole moving house thing in terms of Customer Service and Communication.

To get our house ready we used a project manager, two electricians, two plumbers, a team of painters, a carpet layer, a wood floor specialist, two floor tillers, two chaps to clear the garden and a master carpenter/joiner to design and build the kitchen.  We had four men moving us in two vans.

Here at Impact Factory we talk about Customer Service as often being about The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  Well, we didn’t exactly get to The Ugly but we certainly had The Good and The Bad.

Now, I probably won’t be saying anything new here and many of you will have had similar experiences but I need to get some stuff off my chest, so here goes.

First I have to say that The Good was very good indeed.  There were certain people who offered everything you’d want in excellent Customer Service, which is most emphatically tied up with great Communication Skills.  They told us what to expect and when and then delivered exactly that. 

They seemed to have a global view so they didn’t just do their bit of the job but they saw how their bit fit in with everyone else’s bit.  They went above and beyond – they got the measure of us really quickly and offered loads of suggestions to make our lives easier.  They complimented us on our choices and when we weren’t sure, gave us their expertise.

They followed up – checked we were happy with the work. 

Key to them accomplishing all of the above was that they communicated with us regularly.  We never felt part of a tick-the-box-exercise, but real people, under stress who benefited from their care and consideration.

Now for The Bad.  Why is it that somehow it’s accepted and even expected that people in the building trades don’t show up and it’s OK? If Impact Factory just didn’t show up for a training how long do you suppose we’d be in business?  I don’t get why we put up with it overall. 

We certainly won’t be hiring those people again, but I would if they had used a simple communication tool known as a telephone and told us what was going on. 

In some instances we were assured the work would be finished by a certain date and then it wasn’t and then we’d be assured it would be finished by another date and it wasn’t. 

And everyone thinks this is par for the course.  Everyone has their own builder story, many much worse than ours, and yet, ”Oh you know, that’s builders for you.”

These were the people who didn’t have anything near a global view and were just getting through their bit of the project as quickly as possible.  This means they didn’t communicate with other people working on the house, nor did they communicate with us.  This in turn meant that because we weren’t consulted decisions were made that we didn’t approve of and didn’t want and work had to be redone.

Actually, there were a number of things that had to be redone or undone because of the lack of communication.

There was even one man who said he hated his job – great- that left us feeling reassured!

In an odd way, with this lot, we got the measure of them pretty quickly and it was easier in a perverse kind of way to deal with them.

What we found hardest of all were the people who thought they were doing a good job and weren’t and simply didn’t listen to us.  They’d nod and it appeared as though they ‘got’ what we were asking, but then they went right ahead and did what they wanted to do rather than what we wanted, which, as above, meant work had to be redone.

Lack of listening skills combined with a desire to please made communication with this lot really difficult.  It felt slippery and unfocused and we often felt churlish being critical and asking for what we wanted.

The sum of all this is that we know who we’ll hire in the future if we ever need additional work; we know who we’ll recommend (with pleasure) if anyone asks.

Sadly, we know who we won’t hire again and who we won’t recommend.

I’m not someone who would use Social Media to cast aspersions on specific people – it’s not my style – voting with my feet is. 

Yet so much aggravation (for them and for us) could have been avoided if basic Communication Skills and Customer Service skills had been used.  The thing is that good skills like these are really easy to learn and to practise.   I suggest everyone in the building trades have a go at learning some new and useful tools to make everyone’s lives easier!





By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory

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