As many readers will be well accustomed by now, I am a huge fan of businesses that put the customer first and deliver outstanding service.
There are tremendous demands on businesses brought about by the present economic environment. If it isn't supply chains being compromised, labour shortages or rising costs (some legislated), there seems to be new challenges emerging regularly.
We are all aware the construction industry, and the subcontractors that serve it, is enjoying a period of unprecedented demand. An expert in the industry told me at Jolt the other day that some projects (depending on scale) face waits of months rather than weeks. So it is no surprise that if you need assistance, in this market you are in for quite a wait to get the work you need done. Out of that comes two experiences I have had at opposite ends of the spectrum.
At the negative end, we had two relatively important appliances fail that needed attention. The business that we have dealt with for some time had a track record of trust – mostly built by one member of their team who, single-handedly through years of good service, had put the business in a position of high trust with us. That particular person was the "first responder" when the first appliance died, and he diagnosed the issue with the second appliance (also known as "the more important appliance"). Although it took a while for appliance one to be dealt with (and we had problems with a temporary replacement) we "got there in the end". However, unfortunately, appliance two was a different story and took several weeks to resolve.
The catch cry of "we are really busy", in the case of needing something important fixed or replaced, wears thin pretty quickly (particularly when it is repeated) and when the completion of the job was further delayed, we were disappointed to say the least. We did "get there in the end" and we will probably retain this business as our supplier in this area, pretty much because of their team member mentioned above and the guys who finished the job. But the whole thing could have been solved by better communication and, perhaps, the business having a strategy to deliver existing clients the same level of service as new builds.
Contrast that with the positive experience I had on Monday this week. The recent rain has caused a leak to appear inexplicably on a north-facing window. Unsure what to do or who to contact, I called Dan O'Leary whose father, Jamie, built our place a few years back. I explained the situation and, expecting time to pass before anyone could come up to look at it, said to Dan that I'd appreciate it if he could fit us in.
To cut the story short, Dan was at our place within 20 minutes and returned to fix it 20 minutes later – even noting that he'd come back if we weren't home. Outstanding.
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Not in any way wanting to take credit for this, I mentored Dan and his brother a number of years ago as they prepared to take over the family business and Dan repeated back to me a "mantra" that I discussed with the guys when we looked at marketing – "always respond and put customer service first when possible".
Now, we are unlikely to build a new house any time soon or renovate one; however, because of Dan's attention to a small request, he will be the first person in Whanganui that we call if we ever need to undertake a bigger project. And that is what is seldom seen, the absolute positive impression that is left after you go the extra mile and deliver outstanding customer service.