Customer Service: Painting Edition
The service industry can be tough in all aspects, from start to finish. We are in the industry of providing top quality professional painting services. For many of the customers we encounter, their home is one of the largest investments. Many reasons why homeowners choose to get painting or deck staining work done, is to protect this investment. By leaving bare wood on a house or unprotected wood on a deck, is to neglect required upkeep and will eventually decrease the value of the investment.
Since we are in the business of protecting one of the largest investments our customer’s life, homeowners expect exceptional customer service. I think it is standard to communicate well with customers and set expectations right from the start. But how do we take the customer experience to the next level? I think customer service starts from the top management and must be applied at every level to be effective. We are always marketing with a smile on our face, and with the mentality that we are helping people find solutions to their problems. As the owner and manager, I need make sure the customer is getting what they paid for, which means understanding exactly what the homeowner wants done when quoting the project. The next step is to communicate with the homeowners about when their job is going to be started and completed.
Although it is important to have the great customer service in the marketing, sales, and preproduction stage, the place where customer service is taken to the next level is during the production stage. Our painters need to know the names of the homeowners and address them as “Mr. or Ms. Homeowner.” Being friendly and polite can go a long way in the service industry, because people enjoy being treated right, and quite frankly, are not used to being treated in this manner. One lesson I learned in my first year and was reminded again this year, is that if you tell someone your crew will be there at 8:00 a.m. to start working on the house, you must be there at eight because you have set their expectations. If the early stages of the production process do not go well, then the customer will not feel comfortable throughout the whole process.
This means each stage of the painting process is important. Washing is important because that is the first thing we do and the first thing our customers experience. The preparation work is important because the scraping, sanding, caulking, and priming are the most important parts of the process, as far as long lasting quality work is considered.
Once we are starting to wrap up production, we can do a few things to take that customer service to the next level. Number one – cleaning a worksite on a daily basis is important because it leaves a good impression throughout the job. Above all, a painting crew needs to make sure that before they leave the job site, all of the trash, paint chips, paint cans and other miscellaneous things brought to the work site need to be thrown out or taken with them to the next site. Number two – also an ongoing process: touch ups. Each day, the Production Manager, or Crew Chief, should be making sure that touch ups are being done in the places that were finished that day.
During the day that the job is being wrapped up, touchups will have taken place throughout the day. It is important to make the job complete before the crew brings the customer out for a walk around and potentially final approval. The Production Manager’s standards are above the homeowners, so that when we walk the customer around the finished job there should be minimal touch ups, if any.
Most people are in the service industry in one way or another, and continuous improvement in the customer service area can improve any business and provide customers with the satisfaction they desire. We strive to be the best, not just for our potential clients sake, but for our own. We love getting reviews, so then we know what we can do to be even better.