Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

The “Real” Factor in Customer Service

We’ve found that these days, our customers want real. Not promises or polish; but honesty.

It seems that research agrees with what we are seeing, and the search for real transcends industry lines. Online, people identify more with iPhone videos than heavily edited commercials. At grocery stores, consumers are asking where their produce comes from, buying vegetables that may still be a little dirty. The visible connection to the soil makes them feel more real.

This reminds me of our projects, and what our customers are seeking in the buy/sell. From the bidding process to the finish line, they want to be more involved, seeing a raw snapshot of progress and setbacks.

The real of our company is that everything does not always go perfectly during construction, but our customers are satisfied 95% of the time. We try.

Recently, we had a project that in the end will be positive for all involved. Much like the first mission to the moon, the landing vehicle got off-track, but it landed where it was suppose to. The in-between is where wise and effective management was needed to keep everyone on course.

The project I’m speaking of was phased. The first and hardest phase went smoothly, but the second took the rocky trail. The management on all sides was smart and well-intentioned, but often, our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses. When a little ego got involved, the e-mails start flying.

Here is what we re-learned from that project, tips on how to be real in customer service:

  • Cut down on the debate. This might mean admitting you are wrong. With less debate, solution(s) become more clear.
  • Check ego at the door. When pride gets involved, facts no longer matter. This is certainly not how you want to do business.
  • Solve problems at the lowest denominator. The more people that get involved, the higher the likelihood of dragging out the path to a solution.

In the end, customers who see the real you are the folks who stay loyal down the road. It may not be polished and perfect, but they know what they are going to get.

Where is the real factor coming to play in your management and customer service tactics?





Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.