EDITOR’S COMMENT: Service lift

19 Feb, 14

Philippa Turrell says businesses need to communicate with their customers in order to offer a better quality service

Some involved in the kitchen and bathroom industry could take a leaf from the likes of Virgin Trains. Now that’s a sentence I never thought I would write – well, not without irony anyway. But that was until I travelled back from Cumbria, in gale force conditions. Despite the journey taking over five hours longer, with some uncertainty whether the train would reach its destination at all, the train manager kept all passengers informed. From the roof panels blowing off Crewe station, through to the numerous trees on the line and the resulting go-slow speeds – at each and every juncture passengers were aware, could identify with the problems, and had compassion with the train crew. Result? One, very thankful customer.

Now, compare this level of service with a plumber who recently had to repair a pipe, in my apartment, leading to the soil stack. After the site survey, I was informed the water to both bathrooms would have to be turned off, the floorboards would be taken up, and I would need to move out into a hotel for a week! So, search for hotel commences. The room is booked. Suitcases packed and I have taken a day off work to make the move. It’s a nuisance but I’m good to go.

Then the plumber turns up for the appointment. He says he only has to isolate supply to one bathroom – there will be water after all – so no need to move into hotel. No need to pack and certainly no need to take a day off work… Then comes the caveat “but let’s wait and see”. What? First there is no apology and now there’s no immediate rush to check for unforeseen problems. He’ll let me know by 12.00, as that’s the deadline I have to cancel the hotel room. He has a blatant disregard for disruptions to my schedule – and all of which he has created! Result? One highly annoyed customer.

You may think this plumber bears no resemblance to the superior service you offer. I would hope not! But it’s still worthwhile checking your communication is up-to-scratch – from sales and design through to fit – especially fit – keeping your customers informed along the way. And this echoes throughout the supply chain from manufacturer through to showroom. It’s not the initial setback which is the biggest gripe for any customers; it’s the lack of information preventing them from making their own problem-solving decisions which is. You have been warned!