By: Patricia Seaton, College Pro Entrepreneur
Over 500+ jobs completed 2005-2009
Strong customer service has been a cornerstone in College Pro’s 40-year history as a business. This was a skill I continuously worked on and developed over the course of five years of running a College Pro franchise. As a manager, you interact with a number of individuals—customers, painters, paint store employees, etc—in order to successfully complete a painting project. It took me numerous interactions with different people in order to develop my own definition of excellent customer service. By no means have I mastered this skill, but I have come up with a few key points over the years:
Set appropriate expectations—It’s important to under-promise and over-deliver when setting expectations with the customer. Know what you are capable of and be ok with politely saying no to a customer. I often worried that telling a customer I wasn’t able to do something for them, for example replace rotten deck boards prior to staining or wallpaper their bathroom, meant I wouldn’t land the job. I discovered this wasn’t the case, and it often helped strengthen the homeowner’s trust in me.
Keep the customer in the loop—Customers place a lot of trust in College Pro managers, they hire us to work on one of their largest investments. Because of this, it is important to be respectful of their home and of their time. A few examples include letting customers know if you are running late, if you have postponed their job due to weather, and providing daily progress reports in order to keep the customer up to date on the status of their paint job.
Keep the lines of communication open—If something doesn’t go according to plan, communicate this to the customer immediately. Waiting for the customer to find out on their own will only make matters worse. Clearly explain the issue and how you intend to fix it; this type of open and honest communication will allow for easier and faster resolution of the issue.
Learn from your mistakes—Mistakes happen, it is important to learn from them by identifying where you went wrong and working to avoid similar situations in the future. It sounds simple, but this may be one of your biggest learning opportunities while running a business.
Although these points may seem like common sense, some of them can be forgotten when you’re in the thick of things. Good customer service is an important skill to develop as it leads to satisfied customers and overall job satisfaction as a College Pro manager. My advice to current franchise managers would be to take the time to ensure each and every customer interaction is positive and meaningful and reflect on these interactions to identify your own strengths and weaknesses to help you improve this important skill; it will make for a happier summer for you and your customers