Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I am Customer ... Hear Me Roar!

I have had my eye on several projects this spring as the snow melted and revealed what must be done around here.

The first order of business was the 'Dog Containment Project'.

I called a local chain link fence company at 8:00 a.m. on a Monday morning. I told my tale. "I run a daycare and I desperately need a fencing system in place where I can pen our dogs when the kids are outside ..." My story was much longer, the details of what I wanted were plentiful and there was (quite likely) a not so subtle hint of anxiety in my voice.

The lady on the other end of the phone knew of what I spoke. She had run a daycare at one time and could relate to my urgency. "I'll have someone out there this morning ..." And she did.

We went back and forth on what I could get done at this time and a few other options as I continued to come up with 'great new ideas' every time we went out for a walk. Once all the details were in place, I accepted their quote and we were set to go. "We will have the posts in as soon as possible. Friday or Monday at the latest ..." And they did.

The posts had to set a day before they would be ready to commence fencing. They returned the following day and though we had to wait for a permanent gate to be custom made, they provided a temporary solution that got us through the waiting period. One week and one day after my initial phone call, I was in business. There was a 'dog containment system' in place and I could let my daycare family into the back yard.

The temporary gate was quite cumbersome so we didn't take full advantage of our system but we had easy access to the deck and outdoor picnics and snacks became a new possibility in our world. It was the beginning of great things.

I was getting anxious for our gate to be installed, so I sent one (last) email quietly wondering when we could expect this to happen. It was Friday morning and we had been promised this would be installed by the end of the week. It didn't take long and I received a phone call, "Your gates are on the truck and our installers will be there soon." And they were.

This company kept every single promise that they made to me. If they said they would be here before noon? They were. If they gave me a 'promise date'? They met it. Each and every time. Phone calls were returned. Emails were quickly acknowledged. Every single person that I talked to - whether it was the lady who I originally spoke with, as she walked me through every step of the way ... or their guy who measured up the yard and did the follow-up check at the end ... or any one of their installers. Every single person I talked with was considerate of my questions, needs and concerns. Every time.

This is the beginning of their peak season. My job was small potatoes compared to the big, money-making jobs that they must be dealing with. When I called early one morning, the lady I spoke with admitted that she came in at 4:30 a.m., to try and catch up. The phone started ringing at 5:00 a.m. They had every reason to lag behind on their promises to me. But they never did.

I got the invoice yesterday and the only surprise that I received was that I over estimated the cost of a gate that I had them add in at the end. How many times does one pay less than anticipated??

In the mean time, I have also checked out getting new doors installed. I have contacted four companies. Two came for an on-site estimate. A third (where we visited their place of business) was going to email a quote. The fourth (all I made was a phone call) was the only company that I heard back from. These companies took the time to come out to our house, but they didn't follow through with their promises. One of them called to ask if I received their email. I hadn't. I still haven't. I haven't bothered following through with this idea. And definitely not with the companies that didn't even bother getting back to me.

I am but a small home owner. I don't have a big budget and I am not looking to spend a great deal of money. I just need to make what I have ... work. Our city is booming with construction and I would imagine that most companies don't really have a lot of time to waste on a small consumer like me, when their are bigger fish to fry.

My fencing company made me feel like my time and commitments were valued, which felt very good as a customer. I may be but one person in a big city ... but I have a voice. I will tell everyone that asks the 'story of our fence'...

Trust me, I will also talk about those door and window companies that made me feel like I wasn't worth their time.

Make the little guy happy. Treat your staff well (they will in turn, treat your customers well). Don't make promises that you can't keep. It is the best advertising that you could ever promote.

The Little Guy With a Voice

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