Today I wanted to write about the customer experience. While I have been called an expert in this area, I believe we all have to continually raise the bar if we want to continue to gain the competitive edge. Today I am going to tell you about my experience as a customer and where the contractor fell short.
Recently we had a bathroom remodel done in our home. We looked for the right contractor by asking many questions and reviewing several proposals from different contractors that wanted the job. We decided to go with; we will call them Company B. We choose Company B because we were talking directly with the owner and felt there was more of a personal touch by using them for our contractor of choice. There were several things discussed during the proposal stage, one of which being that I planned on doing all the electrical work myself since I am a licensed master electrician.
Once we signed the contract Company B said they would be out the following week to start the demo. The first thing that happened was they were replacing a beam in our garage underneath the bathroom, and when it arrived, they offloaded it in our front yard. A 22-foot beam was just dropped in our yard with no warning. It just so happened that the next day was the schedule with our lawn guy to come out and cut our grass, which now couldn’t be done.
We reached out to the owner of Company B and told him that we need to have a schedule, so we know when people or materials are going to arrive. We can’t have surprises like this happened again. He apologized and said he would send a schedule. A couple of days later he called my wife and said that the demo crew would be there tomorrow. While this was some heads up, we still had not received a schedule. Since my wife didn’t have any hard plans, she said it was fine for them to come and start the demo that day.
Several people showed up that day, and started not only demo,but also started some of the improvements. I got home to a disaster but was glad to see progress. Then around 6 PM, after everyone left our doorbell rings and it is a plumber saying he is there to do work. We explained that I get up very early for work and I am usually in bed by 8 PM. The plumber said he wouldn’t be long, so my wife allowed him to work. The plumber didn’t leave until 10 PM and was banging and cursing the whole time. Later we found out that he was moonlighting and not a licensed plumber, so he had to work at night.
My wife received a call the next day from the owner telling her that the drywallers would be there the next day to start drywalling. I freaked out because how was I supposed to get the electric done if the drywall was already installed? I have a job, and it was made clear that I would need a weekend to work on the electric and get it done. The Owner told my wife it was only about an hour’s worth of work so he didn’t understand why I couldn’t do it when I got home. BTW, it wasn’t anywhere near an hours work; it was easily a full day’s work. Luckily, I was in a position that I could come home and get the work done, but it was a real inconvenience, and very poor planning and communication.
I could go on for pages and pages of all the horrible customer experiences we encountered during this four-week renovation, smoking in our home, leaving doors open with the A/C on for hours, cutting wood and drywall in the house, but I don’t want to bore everyone with all the details. Thank God it was only four weeks.
The owner did everything he could to try and make it up to us, but much of it could have been avoided had he just supplied us with a schedule and communicated better. One of the most important things to remember if you want to provide a great customer experience is respect. I teach this to every new team member we onboard. While we do not do any residential work, I think it is probably even more important if you do residential work to show the upmost respect to someone’s home and family when working. A simple schedule up front, better communication, and better training for his subs could have made a world of difference.
We are planning another renovation in about six months, and we are still on the fence about giving Company B another shot. The owner did apologize, took our criticisms very well, and in the end, the completed job looks great! However, there are great lessons in respect and communication to be learned here to keep from pushing your customers over the edge.