In the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, we are considered a service-based business. But do we really take this into account regularly and interject customer service practices throughout the project process? From my experience and perception, we don’t do this enough. As an industry, we take customer service very seriously and take care of our clients, but we need to be more intentional about it – this includes training our employees and staff to mimic leadership customer service.
Recently I went on vacation and experienced some fantastic customer service. It made me think about how our industry could incorporate some of the more consumer-based customer service practices into our own line of work. One thing that really impressed me was the communication and response time. Many clients in our industry come back to our firms if we excel at these two things – on the flipside, most of our past clients leave us if we fall short in these areas!
Communication is such a broad term. In the case of communication, I am talking about the person who asked specific questions and checked in frequently. I felt appreciated and listened to because of the way they communicated with me. Many times, it wasn’t even a lengthy question or answer, but just another touch point to let me know they were there to help. I knew I could count on them if there was something I needed, whether it be urgent or not.
Isn’t that what our job is? Shouldn’t we do that simply as part of our human nature? Aren’t we supposed to be helping our clients? The answer should a resounding “yes!” We need to check in frequently and ask good questions. Sure, there are going to be times where we need to have more lengthy questions and answers – those are called meetings or phone calls. I’m talking about making the client know they are appreciated, listened to, and respected.
Are there 10 questions you could ask throughout the project, or just one question you could ask multiple times throughout the project to let the client know they are appreciated and understood? Our industry is more complicated than a typical consumer-based business and much more technical, yet we can still take some of these small concepts and incorporate them into the customer experience. It’s the experience they will remember after the project. It’s not about perfection, but it’s about experience.
Take a few minutes after reading this article to think about a few questions (or just one) that you could start asking your clients during the project process to make them feel appreciated and understood. Write it down. Share it with your employees. Figure out how to incorporate it into your project process. One small step will lead to big things. Make it happen!
Lindsay Young, MBA, FSMPS, CPSM is a marketing services advisor with Zweig Group and president and founder of nu marketing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.