Communicating the unexpected in advance makes it expected. There is no reason not to let customers know you have extraordinary customer service, in advance. It is a passive way of moving them to make a decision. No matter your business type, builder or associate, warranty is still a pre-sales tool as well.
1) Show them the Thank You Gift Before They Buy:
Consider asking a prospect what they would like as a thank you gift, and showing them a list or samples of what you have given other customers, BEFORE they ever consummate business with you. At the very least, if you are a giant builder and only have one option, make sure they somehow see it/them, on their way through a tour. This works for all types of companies too.
Whether you are a manufacturer, deliver service, sell a home, or remodel, take advantage of this process change. If you are so boring as to only offer a gift card, you can at least ask them from what business they would like it.
2) Develop a Back-Stage Pass:
Consider inviting prospective clients, even if they are still at the lead stage, a back stage pass to see your operations. It can be an open house type of setting. That could be meeting with the mortgage division, the design center, the superintendents, the warranty department (showing them how service requests are processed, or if you manufacture something, walking (touring) them through your warehouse. Trust me. They will feel special, and familiar even before the sale, making them much more aligned to making a decision with you. Knowing that prospects are coming keeps your team on their toes as well.
3) Show Your Prospect the Defect Analysis Reports:
Have you thought of inviting prospects, before the sale, to see how you process service requests, and/or how you look at reports such as defect analysis reports, or root cause reports? Of course, you have to be a company that has that capability, which you should, since it is easy to do with any number of systems on the market. It is okay to communicate to a customer they may have something go wrong, for example, due to manufacturer defect. Then that becomes expected. Usually, it is not the problem that matters so very much, but how you deal with it. Also, consider what is going to happen when that prospect goes to ask another builder to see their standard weekly defect analysis report. You are laughing with me I hope, because when they do, and they will, you have just increased your chance of closing the sale.
4) Invoice for Freebies:
Every member of NAHB has likely done something for free to builder, associate or consumer. Don’t just give it away, capitalize on it! If you do, give, or provide some product or service that you are going to choose not to charge for, send a $0 invoice. Yes, it is true just sending the invoice costs you something, but it is a HUGE customer service tool, very often overlooked. Imagine getting a $0 dollar invoice as a customer, with a description field that reads any of these or similar:
- No charge for VIP customers
- Complimentary service, provided by the Sales Department (or use the sales rep’s name)
- Service provided complimentary by John Smith, VP of Operations
Invoices at $0 are a true value added offering and helps build the referral pipeline. Especially if your sales person is sharp enough, or you have a CRM system and sophisticated enough to use it like this, this can be a segue to making a call for referrals.
5) Accept Credit Cards-Seriously:
Many builders scoff at accepting credit cards. Think again. While it is true that credit cards cost something, they cost less than ever before, and your cash flow is dramatically improved. This is more for Associates providing products or services, or for remodelers and Custom Builders. If you are selling high dollar products or services, to consumers, or to builders, likely they might benefit from using a credit card with miles, etc. It also may be a differentiator as to why they choose you as the remodeler, or decide you are their custom builder, or buy your windows, over someone else. Naturally you can build that in to the price. If you do decide to accept credit cards, tout it! Not every one does, and like any marketing position, communicate it in advance, and capitalize on it!
Do you offer a home buyer home page where they can see documents, selections, a warranty manual or even the schedule? If so, show it. Show what you have. Sales work is tougher than ever. Show what they would have, see, do, or get, after the sale, even before the sale.
For custom builders, remodelers, or design build firms, show them what you have presented to other customers. Make a “dummy” sample if you need to. For example, if you ever created a project time line before the sale, you can show that to the prospect.
What can your company do differently to set yourselves apart? If you want a different result, what are you going to change upstream to make that happen? Extraordinary preemptive customer service does not cost a fortune, but it can help you make one.
Erik Cofield, VP of Sales is with TopBuilder Solutions which provides a construction industry specific CRM system with lead management, marketing automation, branded email marketing and a branded industry newsletter all in one easy to use web based software system with no contracts, training or termination fees, and with features no other CRM on the market has. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.