Over the years, Brian Altmann's DBS Remodel construction company has managed to close that “price gap” through obtaining client feedback, taking the resulting data, and integrating it into every facet of our business operations. Properly incorporating feedback from his clients has led to improvements in the firm's customer service. Better customer service has led to greater value, and greater value has increased the bottom line. In this article, Altmann explains how to obtain feedback, how to process it, and how to use it to boost your bottom line.
Rules for obtaining feedback
I’ve been in the remodeling business for 37 years. I own and operate a design-build company with 23 full-time employees, running seven to 10 jobs at one time. We mostly do kitchen and bathroom remodels, finished basements, and additions. Our work volume affords us an ample database of client responses to draw from (particularly over the past 10 to 15 years as we have increasingly incorporated client feedback into our operations).
We have a few basic rules we follow when soliciting feedback from clients: Share why you want their feedback; be sincere when asking for it; write all their comments down; ask follow-up questions for clarity; and don’t “yeah, but” the clients when they are giving their responses. We’ve trained ourselves to remember that the quality and accuracy of feedback from a client is only as good as the delivery of the question.If you want clients to be honest with you, then you have to share why you want their feedback. You have to tell them what you’re going to do with the information because that’ll influence what they tell you. For instance, I’d ask, “I’d love to get some feedback from you because I’m trying to build a better company. I’ve been doing this for 37 years, but I don’t have all the answers and I’m trying to get better.” So, who better to ask than those we serve, right?
Then I’d say, “I just want to thank you again for allowing us to work with you. Are you willing to share with us three or four things that you would change if you were running this job? Are you willing to be my coach right now? I’d appreciate that. And, I promise you that I’m going to bring your comments up in our team meetings so we can learn from them.” If you ask your clients like that, you’ll likely get the truth from them. Also, by doing this, you’re setting the table for repeat customers. Repeat work is 46% of our work, which roughly translates to $3 million dollars per year coming in from doing a great job for past clients. People like to work with people who care, who are truthful. Having soft skills and exhibiting emotional intelligence when dealing with clients matters.
To read the rest of this story from our partner publication, JLC, click here.