How to Use Good Communication to Set a ‘Scope of Expectations’ Pt. 2

Paul Boucherle explains why addressing the “when,” “where,” “why” and “how” is integral in setting a “scope of expectations” for customers.

At the end of January’s column you were left hanging by your fingernails to learn the final steps in the setting of SoE — scope of expectations — process. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but it’s important.

We covered “who” and “what” of communication elements, so now let’s move on to the other critical steps.

‘Where’ Includes Key ‘As-Built’ Documentation

The next to cover is the “where,” because customers need to prepare for the onslaught of technicians. To that end, I suggest a detailed “as sold” drawing of what will be installed and “where.”

This should typically be initialed by the customer to avoid any misunderstanding or worse, scope creep with your technicians while they are installing the systems.

Change orders are a reality, but make sure you get paid for them. Manage your inventory and, most importantly, correct the “as-sold” to an “as-built” drawing for future documentation.

Why the extra step? This is vital to your service team for reference purposes down the line since they are not part of the initial solutions process that designed, installed and implemented the systems. This will build your brand image of professionalism when your service team responds.

Your technicians want to look and feel confident and to have customers refer you as “really competent” providers to other prospects. Making “as-built” documents available will help everyone immeasurably.

Having carried a toolbox and walked into a building three years after a system was installed, there were only three things I really loathed: a customer looking over my shoulder; having no earthly idea what and where the system I was going to repair lived in the building; and asking the customer to show me where the panel was located. Technicians do not like to look foolish or incompetent.

This does not make for a positive customer interaction or end result. Having good documentation, service notes and documented history allows technicians to walk into a customer’s location with self-confidence, which in turn promotes customer confidence, and the ability to efficiently troubleshoot and fix problems.

Think about the quality of your as-built records; this could be a competitive business advantage. Caution: your design, details and records are only for customers that choose to select your company. Your sales teams should explain this. Never give away your knowledge, insights and advice to an unqualified customer who may share your hard work with competitors for a better price … ever!

Other Elements Build Client Rapport, Internal Inspiration

“When” is the next, significant matter in the SoE process. The “when” can be fluid and dynamic, especially with new buildings or expansions and can quickly shift expectations if communication is not proactively handled with contingencies.

What if the concrete or paint isn’t dry? Will it require overtime to complete to meet occupancy expectations? Who will pay for that adjustment or will you simply take a hit on close-out margins since it wasn’t addressed?

You can drive stronger customer relationships only when you step up and they acknowledge that extra effort when considering you for the next project. If this doesn’t happen, then by all means use a disciplined change order approval process to adjust to changing conditions, and be sure to do this with a smiling poker face.

I prefer customers who recognize the extra effort without extra paperwork and billing, but only if I received quid pro quo in the relationship for the next opportunity. Which leads us to the next step.

“Why” make all this extra effort, and does the customer really care? The “why” is not about the customer; it’s all about you, your company, culture, vision, mission and core values. The why is really the reason your team shows up for work every day and what they get from that experience, besides a paycheck.

Make sure you address the internal why-we-do-this question so your customers can answer the “why” other prospects should select your company for their security needs. This leads us to the final SoE step.

The “how” we do what we do is your special sauce and competitive advantage in your chosen market. If you effectively address the first five SoE concerns, this becomes your script to tell your story with confidence, passion and conviction; which at the end of day inspires prospects to do business with your team.

I’ll always remember my first sales call as a rookie when a seasoned ADT salesperson very deliberately explained to a jewelry store owner “how” ADT technicians applied foil to glass panels with great pride, detail and precision to ensure we could protect their premises.

Make sure everyone communicates the “how” you are different. This is also a great way to lay down a minefield for your competition. Hey, the Marine in me does come out once in awhile!

For more on communication matters, I’d be remiss not to mention, a strategic partner that rolled up their sleeves and created a Matterhorn Consulting training channel on communication for three different levels of your organization. It’s worth checking out.

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About the Author


Paul C. Boucherle, Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Certified Sherpa Coach (CSC), is Security Sales & Integration’s “Business Fitness” columnist. A principal of Matterhorn Consulting, he has more than 30 years of diverse security and safety industry experience including UL central station operations, risk-vulnerability assessments, strategic security program design and management of industry convergence challenges. Boucherle has successfully guided top-tier companies in achieving enhanced ROI resulting from improved sales and operational management techniques. He is a charismatic speaker and educator on a wide range of critical topics relating to the security industry of today and an accomplished corporate strategist and marketer whose vision and expertise in business performance have driven notable enterprise growth in the security industry sector.

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