“The act of advocating for a customer” is customer service. Just do the right thing in every aspect of your contractual, moral, and partnership obligations. This is not hard. This is not a calculus problem we need to solve. DO THE RIGHT THING for the clients who are willing to spend their dollars with your company. End of story. Now doing the right thing covers a lot of ground like charging fair prices, doing what we signed up to do, communicating timely, and being transparent. Or another way to put it is, let’s nurture a business relationship to make it long lasting, satisfying, and prosperous for all involved.
I get it–not all business is good business, but there are ground rules that apply here.
- You signed the same elevator contract as your client. Live up to what you signed up for and if conditions or circumstances change the deal, then speak up and declare the differences you have and try to work with your business partner, rather than falling short on your obligations and commitments.
- If you have work that is not good business for your company any longer, do the right thing and let the ownership know that and part ways. Do not stay on and do less than you are contracted to do in hopes that things will change. You lose credibility, damage your reputation, hurt yourself, and do a disservice to the client.
This is what I hear, in one form or another, all the time from elevator vendors from around the country. “We are getting killed on this job”, or “we cannot be profitable on this job”. I will then ask “how long have you had the account?” The answer always is “forever” or 3-5-10 years, and so on and so on. Sorry, my sympathetic ear shuts down right then and there. This is where I love to get involved and my investigative instincts take over. I start digging into the data. Why is this vendor unsuccessful?
- The vendor has not been doing their job and now the equipment needs major repairs?
- The data answers this question
- The vendor underpriced the job when they bid it?
- The data will answer this question
- There are upgrades that need to be done and the owner will not buy them?
- Examining prior proposals and documentation will answer this question
- The equipment is technically outside the vendor’s wheelhouse, and they are not equipped to support it?
- The data will answer this question
There can be other reasons, but these are the reasons that I see in most cases. So, stay with me here, because this is why there is so much negativity in these relationships. If the vendor is not successful the owner will pay a price, either in functionality and/or reliability of the equipment, poor customer service, less service than the contract calls for, and finally, the likelihood that the equipment will not reach its beneficial lifespan. So ultimately the owner will not be successful in this business relationship either. I have sat in so many meetings, once Auditmate is involved, where the owner is not aware of pending equipment issues and in many cases has never seen an upgrade proposal addressing the vendors claims. You might ask yourself; how can that be? Well because ongoing customer communication (customer service) is not happening.
All the big elevator companies task their account reps with seeing their Premier Accounts, or TOP 20, or Top Tier accounts, and the reps are required to see them at a certain frequency. But this is what I absolutely know from experience. If you must demand that your reps see your accounts, your company does not have a customer service mindset.
So back to customer service, clear and constant communication falls under this customer service umbrella, providing transparent, concise, and easy to understand information about the state of the elevator or escalator equipment is a huge part of advocating for the customer.
Imagine going into the car dealership to get your vehicle serviced or its 30,000-mile checkup and three months later learn that your vehicle needs a major repair. My reaction would be how was this not brought to my attention when I had my vehicle serviced. I am your customer, are you not looking out for me?
Here are comments from our clients when speaking about customer service.
- The larger the job the better the customer service
- Small one or two elevator jobs are left in the wind and only the squeaky wheel will get greased
- All our trust is put in the mechanic because they typically cannot get communication from the office
- The nearer to the contract expiration date the better the customer service is
- I must reach out to a regional level person to get any action
So, the point of all this information is this. Advocating for your customer (providing good customer service) is good for the vendor and good for the client. You would think this would be a no-brainer, but it is a constant battle. I see pockets around the country where customer service is very good, and clients are truly advocated for, but it is the exception.
So a simple rule of thumb if you want long-term profitable business relationships.
- There is never a wrong time to DO THE RIGHT THING