Customer service has plummeted in today’s construction industry climate
In most restaurants, if a mistake is made with a customer’s meal after the table has been served, the new dish in the kitchen is called Hot Food, which means it takes priority and is goes to the front of the line. This customer service mentality puts the customer first, but more importantly, the business takes responsibility for its mistake.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, customer service has fallen in most areas of consumer spending, but probably no worse than in areas related to construction. Today for most businesses there are no priorities for hot food, and in some cases customers don’t eat at all.
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Finding labor, especially skilled craftsmen, in the construction industry is very difficult, and the maids are booked for months. The problem with some scopes is that there are real household emergencies that need to be dealt with immediately, such as a broken water line, electrical and HVAC failures, and break-ins through windows and doors. The inability to obtain replacement parts along with solidly booked schedules frightens many homeowners as they search for solutions in a home emergency.
The supply chain is so propped up and overwhelmed that home emergencies just line up with regular projects. It is imperative that service and labor companies include deadlines in their schedules to manage emergency repairs in addition to keeping repair and replacement parts commonly used in their field of work in stock. Just-in-time or fast spare parts deliveries are difficult in today’s environment, and large businesses with a hot food mentality should consider stocking more parts.
It seems like a mistake in the construction industry is happening every second. Between inexperienced owners, changing jargons and incompetence in the construction industry, errors are frequent and costly.
In this time of extended lead times and escalating costs, project owners and builders should check and recheck all products ordered for a project to avoid any hot food issues. Now is not the time to order a mistake as projects could be delayed for several months while waiting for replacement items.
For example, in the window supply industry, delivery times for many of the state of Florida’s largest suppliers have increased to 8, 12, 16, and – in some cases – 40 weeks. Window suppliers are so supported and overwhelmed that when they make a mistake, the replacement item is brought back online with the same extended delivery times.
Due to demand and component shortage, window and door industries do not offer any form of hot food customer service. In fact, a sales manager at one of America’s largest door manufacturers recently told me that he couldn’t push or add orders, and only knew what was shipped to the customer next. his departure from the factory. This is extremely frustrating for project owners who endure costly delays with few good answers.
What happens in the window and door supply chain is happening throughout the construction industry. When businesses and artisans are overwhelmed, they simply cut off communications and adopt a take it or leave it mentality that ignores the importance of the customer.
One day after this pandemic is resolved, these businesses will need those same customers they avoid today, but will their businesses be so poisoned by these times that they can never get back to the Hot Food mindset? Probably. Once a business or craftsman stops caring about customer service, it normally can’t change.
No one disputes that the supply chain is overwhelmed and very difficult to manage, but if these companies simply took two easy steps, they could uphold their reputation as excellent customer service companies.
First, over-communicate with all customers, and if it’s bad news, don’t cover up any issues or delays. People come to terms with the truth much better. There is no excuse for a business or person at any time not to take immediate responsibility for a mistake. All errors should be highlighted. Customers shouldn’t have to wait and suffer because you failed. Take responsibility for your mistakes and correct them immediately.
Emergencies and errors in the construction industry are common, the way they are handled will determine the quality of your customer service and the overall business.
Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of “Around the House” which can be seen on AroundtheHouse.TV.