A Lesson in Hearing What our Clients are Saying

July 10, 2014
By: Bob Hoertsch SET | President | Low Voltage Contractors, Inc. & Vice Chairman of the PSA Sales & Marketing Committee

For years our client (let's call him Joe) was one of the best customers you could ask for. We got all of his work and he always had a good word to say about our techs and sales people. His facility was quite large, so we got quite a bit of work from him.

Then the day came when Joe took another position for another company and moved into a building that was serviced by our competitor. We visited Joe and asked, "When can we take this over?" Unfortunately the answer was that the building owners had a long term contract with the current company. As such, there was very little or no chance that we would be servicing this account in the near future. We kept in contact with Joe, but as time goes by, sales people are always looking for the next big thing. Our conversations with Joe slowly dwindled to nothing.

Two years after our last contact with Joe, one of our enterprising young people took the initiative and went to see Joe.

Joe's first words were "What took you so long? I was ready to switch contractors eighteen months ago." Great, well here we are!

So we asked Joe what we could do for him. His response was in the form of a question, "Who is going to be my customer service rep?"

The sales person responded, "Well me of course."

"Oh no," said Joe, "I will call you when I need a new system or when I want to change things or build an addition. I need a service rep that will tell me what I need, not sell me what they want. I am done with sales people. I need a rep that will tell me what I need, not just push the latest gadget or technology on me because it will pay a commission. I need someone with integrity, knowledge and the ability to actually listen to what the client is asking and respond in a way that makes sense. I have already had the consummate sales person. I need a customer service rep."

Joe's needs were clear and the message was one we tend to forget. Our clients depend on us to keep their buildings secure and their people safe. The client comes to know our company and the people that work for us quite well, but unfortunately sometimes we give up too early or take people for granted. Sometimes sales people even take advantage of a situation to "force" the sale without paying attention to the long term outcome. Joe inherited a company in his new building that did not understand customer service, and as soon as the contracts ran out, Joe was looking to replace them with a contractor he could trust. Luckily we were in the right spot at the right time and had a proven track record. We now have the contract, but a valuable lesson was learned.

The reasons clients who leave your company or hire a different contractor are not always because of poor service or dissatisfaction. It could be just a matter of different circumstances. By maintaining contact with the "lost " client by assigning a customer service rep to those clients, you could be making one of the best business decisions ever. Once you regain a client from a competitor, the bond created is almost certainly unbreakable.