Yesterday, in a flash of inspiration after generating three blog entries in 15 minutes, I sent out a special e-card to discuss the idea of The Paprika Effect -- the use of little spices or extras (to the side dishes) that create an enticing client experience.
Despite the fact that most of us are in the middle of a long weekend, so far almost 400 people have opened the email.
Louis Magliano of Bestline Plumbing in Los Angeles suggests that, for his business, the little extras to create a great experience are built through the relationship from beginning to end.
Your question is difficult to answer because we pour paprika over the entire deal before work is commenced.I'll share other readers' Paprika ideas in future postings (and tomorrow's Construction Marketing Ideas newsletter). In the meantime, please feel free to share yours with me -- and this blog's readers -- by commenting or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first part of your question was what do we do to make the experience enjoyable. When closing the sale, we tell the customer we want them to feel comfortable, sit back, and relax because we will not ask for one penny until the job is 100 per cent completed and not until they are 100 per cent satisfied. We tell the customer they have a lifetime guarantee or a very extended guarantee and it is like we own their plumbing. We promise that we will continue to work on their job until it is finished without going to other jobs. We tell the customer a supervisor will go to the job, check every inch of the job, take pictures and give them pictures of the work. We tell the customer that in my 36 years of doing business we never added extras to a job.
We never told the customer we made a mistake and needed more money and the price quoted is the exact price that the customer will pay, and if we do find something we did not see that is related to the scope of work performed, we will repair, or replace it for free.
The second part of your question asks what we will add to a job. As stated in the first question, during the performance of our work we will throw in many free faucets, a garbage disposer, toilet, and many other small items without even telling the customer we are doing this for them.
The biggest thing we do is something I don't think any contractor does and that is we will actually lower the price of a job after a contract is signed and even after the job is 100 per cent completed, and even when the customer appears to be perfectly satisfied with the price. In the contracting business, there is no set price and there are times we feel we charged the customer more than we should have. I will lower a customer's price, without the customer asking, about three times every year. Also, when sitting with a customer and even after a customer agrees to a price, and even after the contract is signed, I will discount the job a few hundred dollars.
The more obvious way to make a job a good customer experience is cleanliness, mannerisms, and following through with everything spoken and written. We are clean-freaks and our employees must follow many guidelines for protecting the customer's property and accommodating the customer's needs that may include giving the customer the use of a restroom at all times, helping the customer to move their furniture, or making the job peaceful by having our employees keep their voices quiet.
We honor and live by this statement and will not take one penny from a customer:
"A sale is not a sale unless both the buyer and seller are 100 per cent satisfied"
About three times a year a customer will call and tell me he has a job that is completed, he would like to pay, and he has an issue that needs to be corrected. The customer is willing to pay and let us correct the problem later, but I tell the customer not to worry and not to pay until everything is perfect.
I believe all these things help create a good experience for the customer.