Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why Flooring Retailers Should Focus on Selling Solutions

...And not back over the flower beds.

Susan NegleyFrom tile floor installation to chimney sweeping, kitchen cabinets and landscaping, as a homeowner with responsibility for upkeep and all that goes wrong I have plenty of opportunity to hire people to work on my home. As a customer, my service experiences are routinely disappointing; sometimes absurd. Listening to customer service expert Lis Calandrino last week on Talk Floor reminded me that I’d really like to be able to raise my expectations and prompted this post.

Just Showing Up Does Not Equal Customer Service.

It totally amazes me what happens sometimes when I try to hire someone for a home improvement/repair job. Too often their response is: (a) None, because they fail to call me back or (b) they call me back and say, “Yes I’ll be there Thursday at 2,” and then they don’t show up.

Sadly, I have become thankful for those who just show up! Calling me back and showing up on time meets the first threshold of customer service for me. If they do what they promise and the bill is reasonably within the estimate I am thrilled. If they don’t leave half eaten lunches behind I get goofey with happiness. If they were to call me back to check on the job or see if I needed anything else I’d probably think they were stalking me. I know I’m not alone in this. My neighbors and friends tell the same stories. And when one of us finds someone reliable you can bet that the entire network begins to use them. We share business cards.

What's your point you ask? My point is - what an opportunity! It doesn’t take much to stand out anymore. With a little effort you can be everyone’s favorite service provider, flooring installer, retailer or distributor.

Lis Calandrino reminded me that showing up on time, doing what was promised, and cleaning up after the job should be assumed. If you send a thank you note or call and ask if things are going well or if I need more work done you will become the number one person on my list to call next time, and, I will recommend you to my network.

Why Selling Solutions to Women will Create More Business

I have become used to using the Internet to figure out my own solutions and then hiring someone else to execute them because too often the service provider leaves the solution search up to me. That's another thing I wish would change and Lis Calandrino got it right when she said:

Many in flooring/carpet don't understand [that] women don't buy products. They buy solutions. They want to know what the product can do in terms of the solution. " You can read her whole interview on Flooring the Consumer .

I will pay more for the comfort of knowing I can place my problem in your hands; you will provide options for me to choose and then you will execute the solution – without backing over the flower bed or leaving half eaten lunches behind. That would make me ecstatically happy. And if you called me back to check on the job I might still think you are stalking me but that’s a problem I’d like to get used to.

So... the next time a woman strolls into your floor covering store, don’t ask her what kind of products she wants to see. Ask her what kind of problem she needs you to solve!

Let her chose the solution then deliver and install it with minimal drama. Make sure her home is left in the same condition that you would want someone to leave your home then check back later and see if there are any other problems you can solve for her, or for someone in her network. I bet you will find there is no shortage of problems for you to work on.

Let's talk about customer service. We all have stories of good experiences and bad ones. I love hearing about them and oh the stories I could tell.

Susan

6 comments:

  1. Susan, Yes! You are so right. This is a great post that captures the opportunities that so many retailers - especially flooring - have to reinvent the retail experience for women consumers. CB

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  2. Thank you Christine. That means a lot coming from you - an expert on the retail experience. As a former retailer myself I know that one of the most valuable things I offered to the business was my perspective as a consumer. Sometimes we get so close to things that we overlook the obvious.

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  3. Hi Susan, your post is so timely; retailers that are sensitive to the female customer will build lasting relationships.The opportunity is there if retailers will pay attention. Thanks again for reminding us. The opportunity is there for all. It's great to read your blog.

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  4. Thank you for reading and commenting. Your interviews on Talk Floor and Flooring the Consumer resonated. I have owned flooring stores myself, I hope that our retailers are listening.

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  5. Well said, Susan. Not always, but all too often, the words customer service are construed as just words and not the act of providing such. To me, Customer Service (and, yes, I did mean to capitalize it) is the inverse . . . service the customer. The customer does not service the installer, retailer, or distributor. Customer Service is doing what you promised, when you promised it, at the price that you promised it at, with follow-up to be sure all three criteria have been met within controlable reason. Great Customer Service endows project vision to solution completion seamlessly. As former Dallas Cowboys quarterback was quoted, "There are no traffic jams along the extra mile."

    -Sparky

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  6. Sparky you should be awarded an MBA in Customer Service! Thank you for reading and posting and contributing so eloquently.

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