How well are you serving your customers? This question pertains to both internal and external customers. The internal customers are those people inside the company in which you work with and interact. For example, the foreman’s internal customer is the superintendent, the project manager, office staff personnel, i.e., payroll administrator and the crew. Everyone has one or more internal customer, and the key for internal customers is to interact positively with them and satisfy their needs. The same would be true of external customers, who are the GC’s superintendent, the architect, the owner and the other trades on the job.
A key concept of customer satisfaction is this: The level of service an employee brings to a customer is a reflection of how well that employee feels served, or how will his/her needs are being met by the organization. You can only serve the external customer satisfactorily to the extent that internal customers serve each other (developing an internal needs orientation). To the extent that internal customers feel supported, encouraged, nurtured and served, they will then help their external customers.
What is a customer?
C = someone who has concerns and needs
to be communicated with.
U = someone who requires understanding.
S = someone who expects top-notch service.
T = someone who wants tangible results.
O = someone who wants an organizational commitment that his needs will be satisfied.
M = someone who meet his deadlines.
E = someone who expects high energy and enthusiasm from those with whom he does business.
R = someone who expects reliability and responsiveness.
To provide a high level of customer satisfaction, you must meet the following requirements:
Create W.O.W. "Work on Winning.” Establish win/win relationships. Be action-oriented by giving the customer what he wants first, and you’ll probably get what you want.
Act as if you are the company. No matter who you are or what you do, the behavior you transmit to the customer creates a perception that leads to an evaluation of the total company. If the foreman is argumentative and surly with the GC’s superintendent and gets into the "blame game” with him, then the superintendent will generalize and tell the people in his company that your company is nothing but trouble and refuses to satisfy the needs of the GC. This is a good way to get removed from the bid list.
Care, and be competent. This requires people who know what they’re talking about and know how to solve problems, meet the schedule and produce quality results. They’re proactive rather than reactive. They also project a "whole job” focus and care about the GC’s problems and help solve them.
Honesty is the only policy. When there’s a problem or an obstacle that prevents you from being effective and efficient, you present your case to the GC without emotion and offer a solution to solve the problems or remove the obstacle.
Listen—it creates trust and respect. Hear people out. Let them finish what they’re saying. Don’t interrupt them while they’re talking—gain an understanding of the issue, problem or need, and let them know you’re there to move forward and make things better.
Provide exceptional service. Do more than what’s expected. Go the "extra mile.” Provide value, which is in the eyes of the beholder. Find out what’s really important to your customer and then deliver it.
Be a fantastic fixer. There’s a solution for every problem. Let the customer know that you will do whatever it takes to solve the problem. Even if you don’t have the answer, you will go to other people in your company who have the knowledge and expertise to solve the customer’s problems.
Master the art of calm. Always control your emotions. Yelling, screaming and letting your emotions take over communicates immaturity and ends up with a lot of arguing and animosity. It creates problems instead of solving them. By controlling your emotions and expressing dissatisfaction in a straightforward, assertive way, you open the door to mutual respect and problem resolution.
These are the keys to maximizing customer satisfaction.
Norb Slowikowski is president of Slowikowski & Associates, Inc., Darien, Ill.
Slowikowski will be presenting "Are you a Project Manager or a Project Witness?” on April 19 from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and a Hard Hat Productivity Seminar, "Nine Critical Factors for Maximizing Profits,” on April 19–20 during AWCI’s Convention (April 15–19, 2012, in Charlotte, N.C.). Visit http://www.awci.org/cd.shtml for more information.