The best laid plans | How I feel unsafe as a customer

I opened the door in my dressing gown this morning at 8.30 am and said, “You guys said you would ring me first!”

The floor installer replied, “Oh yeh, they lost the plans.” I assume that ‘they’ is the flooring company. “So what do we have to do today?” He asked me. That’s why the man came and drew up the plans, I thought.

I take him through the house and point out my non-negotiables. He tells me then that it looks like more than a day’s work. I reply that I was under the impression that it was a 2 day job. He then comments shortly that it looks like it’s going to be a 3 day job and that he’d be back soon after a trip to get more materials and a phone call to check he was going to get paid for the extra days.

I’m a pretty fussy customer. I’m so fussy that I often don’t haggle the guts out of price to make sure I get a premium job. Don’t get me wrong, if I think there is a commercial risk, I do negotiate to stay safe – but generally I pay well for a job I am confident that will delight me. Bear in mind that I have already paid for my floor and install in full – many thousands of dollars – and I know that these guys are independent installers for the company I chose but at this stage I am starting to question the result and my ensuing delight before they even begin. I must admin I was probably a bit heavy handed with my demands. I was scared that I wasn’t going to get what I asked for. I’m sure they were happy that I was heading off to work and handing control to my milder-mannered husband.

I did jump in the car, go to the store and tell them my concerns on my way to work. They shook their heads, copied the plan and I took it back home to the installers.

The job’s just begun – I’ll let you know in 3 days what the outcome is, but here are the four learnings from this for me for my own business:

  1. Always have a plan. Customers like to feel safe. They like a predictable outcome for their investment of time, energy and money and starting without a plan is not the best way to engender confidence. Having a plan creates safety and means that they feel as though they were listened to and understood. A plan is really just a customised system that you are following to make sure you deliver the product, service or experience that you promised.
  2. Customers don’t care about our problems. They want to know that you know your stuff and that you will deliver what you have promised.
  3. Contractors are representing your brand too, even if they don’t work directly for you and they need to follow your plan or system to make your customers feel safe. Whether they are an installer, a builder, the postman or a courier, you are paying them to be your representative. Make sure you pay premium contractors and make it very clear that they are offering your service to your customer.
  4. When you do have a problem, have a back-up plan. Customers really want to forgive us when we screw up, so make sure there something concrete in place to make them feel more comfortable.

Having to drive to the store to get their plan was not idea, but at least I felt better about the potential of the job. Most customers wouldn’t bother.

So how are you keeping your customers safe? What’s your plan?

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