Put Your Customers Second (After Your Employees)

When do you consider a job to be finished? Is it after you’ve made an irresistible sales pitch? Is it after the client signs on the dotted line? What about after the installation is complete? How about after the customer has been trained on system operation? Maybe it’s after a system has been upgraded or when the monitoring contract expires. At what point is your customer satisfied?

The answer is that unless you sell your business, you should never consider a job finished.

A successful security company is one that is always evolving. Evolution does not have an ultimate destination or state — it is perpetual and eternal, always striving toward improvement.

In business, as in nature, those who do not adapt become extinct.

As America has shifted away from heavy manufacturing toward service-based businesses, adaptation has come to mean focusing on the customer. As an installing security contractor, every effort must be made to ensure your customers’ safekeeping. That means communicating with them regularly and building relationships.

Most service companies today have a “customer satisfaction” quality statement. Unfortunately, in some cases, it isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Many organizations lack the discipline to figure out with clarity how to communicate this simple premise to their employees.

As a consumer, when things go wrong with a service or product (and it will happen), how is it handled? Things that go wrong in any business are measured by the quality of the relationship that exists at the time they go wrong. If the relationship is great, then no big deal. If the relationship is non-existent, look out!

The difference lies in empowering employees and communicating this empowerment through proper training and an explicit plan to deal with such situations. Employees must have the authority to do what it takes to delight the customer. That confidence will show through as employees express an increased willingness to go out of their way to resolve customer issues. This undoubtedly will lead not just to happier employees, but also to more satisfied customers.

A beneficial side effect of empowered employees is retention of these employees. It is meaningless to talk of building long-term customer relationships if you have high employee turnover. A constant cycling of employees makes it impossible for them to build long-term relationships with customers. Don’t expect to have long-term customers without long-term employees.

So, how do you use employee training to take your customer service to a higher level? In my opinion, one of the most important factors is hiring the proper management. Too many companies may hire smart, talented, successful people that are promoted or placed within a senior management position, but unfortunately are able to go only so far because of the limitations of their leadership. They don’t build a culture around the idea of employee empowerment, freedom and responsibility. They end up vigorously managing “company policy” and then making sure it’s followed by the book.

What you end up with is an employee that is a talking catalog or robotic order-taker. How many times have you had a problem somewhere, asked to speak to the manager and ended up being frustrated because the manager was no better at solving the issue than the front-line employee? Why is it that a big-box retailer will close their doors because of slow business, but their competitor will move in and it’s packed with customers? Why do people blame the “American worker” for poor manufacturing quality at one company, and another will use the same people and the quality will be consistently superb? The answer: management.

Before your can bedazzle yourselves with a “customer comes first” mission statement, you need to first take care of your troops. In doing so, you’ll reap the rewards of long-term loyalty, referrals, and selling new and/or additional services.

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