10 Golden Rules to Sink Shabby Service

I’ve written before about the importance of premium customer service and, unfortunately, what a rare commodity it is nowadays. A recent unpleasant encounter I had with a carpet cleaning/repair company has spurred me to revisit this topic. The 10 rules the company violated are equally applicable for security providers, who also enter a customer’s home or place of business.

It all began a few weeks ago when I was looking for someone to repair carpeting in my home. I suppose my first mistake was selecting someone based strictly on a direct-mail coupon. Nevertheless, I called the company and arranged for a representative to check out my carpet. However, when I answered the door that Saturday, the repairman’s curt demeanor and unfriendly attitude immediately put me off. Rule No. 1: Always project a friendly, courteous and positive attitude to your customer.

Next, with his assistant standing by, he tore through my house to determine what would be required to clean it. As I mentioned, I had called about repairs, not cleaning. Rule No. 2: Know what the customer wants beforehand, or make it a priority to ask when you meet them.

Then, after my overtures had essentially been ignored and he was about to run out to his truck and bring in tools and materials for the job, I was forced to shout, “Hold it! Slow down!” Rule No. 3: Listen to your customer and respond to what he or she tells you, not some preconceived script or plan.

Eventually, I was able to describe the actual work that I needed done. Looking unhappy that there would be no cleaning involved, the repairman sized up the situation and confirmed he could do the job. Again, I had to stop him from scampering out to his truck, as he had not mentioned cost. Rule No. 4: Provide your customer with as accurate a cost estimate as possible.

Against my better judgment, even though he seemed to pull figures out of the sky and showed questionable math skills when calculating my discount, I gave the go-ahead. Returning with a third laborer, the crew commenced working. I was further dismayed when, without asking permission, they did things like using my fan and going into the kitchen to heat up water. Rule No. 5: Be gracious and considerate when working in a customer’s home.

About an hour later, the foreman informed me that the job was complete. I was less than enthralled to see that one of the repairs consisted of a new piece of carpet (taken from the closet) being used as a large patch, with the result resembling a bad toupee! Rule No. 6: Thoroughly explain exactly how the job will be accomplished and what the end result will be so there are no surprises.

Shortly after the work was done, I noticed that an area where the carpet meets the kitchen tile had popped up from underneath the metal connecting strip. When I inquired if they could quickly fix it, the foreman told me the tools were already on their way back to the truck. Rule No. 7: Be accommodating and conscientious; don’t appear to be in a rush to move on to the next customer.

The repairman told me that a three-year warranty accompanied all of the company’s work. However, when I examined the bill, I did not see anything that specified such a guarantee. My request to have it noted was met with disgruntled muttering. Rule No. 8: Do not make idle promises, stand behind your work.

Finally, I was prepared to write out the check. With my 30-percent discount, the total came to $255, which still seemed quite high considering it took less than an hour, did not require any new materials and was of dubious quality. The repairman told me to “just leave the ‘pay to’ part blank,” apparently so he would not have to report it to the company. Rule No. 9: Be ethical in regards to both the company you represent and the customer.

The next day, I called the carpet company to convey my dissatisfaction. The person made excuses for the repairman and did not offer any reparation. He promised the company would call back, which it never did. Rule No. 10: Do whatever it takes to satisfy your customer!

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