We all want our customers to be good customers — nice, friendly and thankful we are there to meet their needs. But have you ever stopped to think about what kind of customer you are? Like the Tango, it takes two to make any business interaction a good one. When both the provider and the customer are in a good rhythm, everyone wins. Taking the right steps will not only make life easier for the company you hire, but make your own experience more pleasant as well.
Angie’s List recently surveyed nearly 1,400 companies across the country to determine what the folks on the other side of the invoice think about customer satisfaction. Among those weighing in were providers of home improvement, plumbing, auto repair, pet sitting and veterinarian services.
“While we read stories all the time about how hard it is to find someone who gives good customer service, being a good customer is your responsibility,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. “Seventy-eight percent of the service companies surveyed would classify their clients as good customers.”
The best customers are:
- Willing to take suggestions
- Excited about their project
- Aware of what they want
- Keeping communication open and asking good questions
On the flip side, the service companies considered these “the worst” customers:
- Don’t pay on time or have insufficient funds when they do
- Cancel at the last minute or don’t show up for appointments
- Are dishonest, indecisive or inflexible
- Are rude and disrespectful to workers
“Just as consumers don’t like it when they call for help and don’t get a return call, companies don’t like it when they invest a lot of time to provide an estimate and never hear that their bid hasn’t been accepted,” Hicks said. “More than half of the companies surveyed expect to hear from a customer after giving an estimate whether they want to move forward or not.”
How can you be a better customer? Consider these 10 tips from Angie’s List:
1. Keep it real: Don’t expect to add extras to a job and not pay more or change expectations midway through the project and not be flexible with the budget.
2. Ask questions: Don’t make assumptions. If you’re unfamiliar with the service being provided, learn more by asking.
3. Communicate and return phone calls: Be honest and upfront about what you want and expect. Service companies also want to know where they stand on a project and why customers decide to give work to someone else.
4. Act professionally: If you want your service provider to do a good job, show him or her respect. If you have to cancel an appointment, give enough time (at least 1 hour) so you’re not wasting the company’s time.
5. Keep an open mind: You’re not going to get a castle for the price of a shack. Never base your hiring decision only on the cheapest option or you will likely get what you paid for. Also compare apples to apples – while one option may be cheaper, how does the quality of materials compare?
6. Don’t be irrational: If something negative happens during the job or service, don’t become irate or obscene. Be civil. If you’re dealing with a good service company, they will want to fix the problem.
7. Pay on time: You hired the company for a service; if they’ve delivered – pay them. Always pay with a credit card so you have recourse in case something goes wrong
8. Follow the Golden Rule: Treat the company with respect, even in the way you explain your complaint. For example, if it appears a repair has not worked, rather than accusing the company of doing the job “wrong,” let them know you’re still having the same problem and are in need of their help. If a bill turns out to be higher than expected, ask for a detailed breakdown of the bill before you accuse them of “price-gouging.”
9. Reward good behavior: If you are a satisfied customer, let the company know. Write a letter thanking that employee who went out of their way and include it in the report you file on Angie’s List.
10. Offer constructive criticism: Is there a way the company can improve a service or product? Even great companies can use improvement. If a company asks for your input in a survey or questionnaire, give it to them. Take the time to share your opinion, the good and the bad.