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Why don’t more contractors ask their customers to rate their services?

Of three dozen subtrades and installers that John Bleasby dealt with on his recent new home build, not one asked him - as the general contractor - how satisfied he was with their work. There is money to be made - serious money - in asking that question.


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June 8, 2015 by John Bleasby

As I was building my family’s new house last year, I asked the various trades how they usually found their next projects. Most said through word-of-mouth. Some said repeat business. Obviously, it can vary between a septic tank installer and a painter!

Thinking about this recently, however, it struck me lately how few of the trades even contacted me after their work was concluded, let alone to formally ask me about my level of satisfaction – or my willingness to provide a reference. It’s not as if I was ever unsatisfied at the time. In fact, with perhaps two exceptions, I was extremely happy with the work that each of the three dozen or so trades and specialists performed.

If word-of-mouth reputation is the Number One Asset that can set one company ahead of a rival, how can you build it? In my opinion, you nurture it.

For example, when I buy a new mobile phone, when my car comes back from service, or I buy something on Amazon, I am smothered with opportunities to rate my satisfaction. Last week, I bought a latte and muffin at a nearby cultural centre using my credit card; software somehow tracked me down through Trip Advisor! A bit freaky, but that’s the modern world.

It’s not really that hard for even the smallest of trade operations to contact customers after a job to get an approval rating and feedback details. It can be as simple as a 1-to-5 score card on a 4-question survey covering professionalism, punctuality, cleanliness, quality, and value of the work or service performed. If a questionnaire seems too daunting, simply ask your customer to take a few minutes to rate your work on Home Stars or whatever on-line referral service works in your region.

There are two huge benefits: First, the feedback in fact can improve your business. Second, the act of asking for the customer’s opinion means you care about your work. Those two things alone will help you build a better business and improve your word-of-mouth reputation.

Don’t be afraid! Unless there really were problems with your work, which you should want to rectify anyway, chances are your past customers will continue to be your best sales representatives going forward.

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Follow John on twitter   @john_bleasby

 


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3 Comments » for Why don’t more contractors ask their customers to rate their services?
  1. Marci says:

    I think one great way contractors can get immediate feedback on their work is to whip out a tablet or mobile with the site loaded up and ready to go, have the client rate the service of work right there! Takes all the work out for the client, takes less than 30 seconds to do and you can reuse those testimonials to market your work – for YEARS!. Just imagine if you do that for every job! WIN-WIN.

  2. Oh how I love Client Feedback, Funny tho, when you do a good to great job, you get a brief thank you but when you make a mess, BOY do you find out about it, the client will bad mouth you all over the place but NEVER send you a note telling you what they did wrong. A phone call yes, but never a note deliniating the problem.
    We heard back once that a client was so very ticked off at our service that they were telling all their friends about it. They told one of our really loyal clients this as well and got stopped in their tracks. He said” Did you ever call them to tell them what was wrong?” answer–“why would I do that, no one ever comes back to fix a mistake” Reply from Mr Loyal ” They DO!! why did you not call”
    So the next day, she calls and reams me out…I pull the file and note that there has never been any conversations since we left 2 months before. I ask what happened and why did you not call..???
    Apparently after we left her son tried to light the masonry fireplace and smoked out the entire house and caused her to have an asthma attack. She has not used it since..So I offer her a FREE service to find out what is going on.. Result -son did NOT OPEN THE DAMPER!!! it was that easy to solve but because she did not call, we got bad-mouthed..

    So back to topic….After many years of Pre-Stamping feed back cards and leaving them with the client with their invoice and getting 95% of them back regularly, we have stopped…. as we never ever got more than 5% back now. Maybe it is because we are doing a lot of repeat clients, I don’t know. so Then we put a feedback area on our website, hardly anything ever trickled in.
    Seems that Clients do not want to give feedback anymore when asked unless they are really mad at you, and they call in complaining.
    They are so inundated with the Auto-Calling after nearly every service they have done, that when given a paper or internet or mailing opportunity they just toss it. Is Auto Call killing our age old Courtesy Calls??

    We do still receive nice notes and cards with any incoming cheques from time to time but not like we used to, and we REALLY appreciate these as they took more time and thought that us handing them a form they feel they MUST return. We keep them in a book in our sitting area. Now..what we DO DO. is put any feedback that we get up on our website under testimonials.

    Maybe I’ll put the Feedback area back up???

  3. Jess Sugar says:

    This is something we consider often when we deal with our clients. The simplest answers (to the why not?) are 1) it can be challenging to get the feedback & contractors give up even asking , 2) contractors miss the significant value that peer reviews bring to their business long term.

    How to deal with these issues:
    -Make it simple for the clients to write feedback or a review, give options for placement as opposed to only one spot.
    -Teach your staff WHY and HOW they should ask for reviews. Often the difference between getting feedback and not lies in the way you ask.

    It should also be noted- many contractors are wary of negative response: Take disappointing feedback as a tool to improve the way you do things internally as well as how you represent your brand.