We are in the middle of having a new bathroom fitted. Our driveway currently has something of Steptoe’s yard about it as our old bath, toilet and sink are found a new home. So far, the process has been straightforward and entirely mundane but in another way quite remarkable (with apologies to David Coleman!).
The local Southport business delivering us our new bathroom has been fantastic to deal with. Professional. Reliable. Friendly. Doing high quality work. Listening to us. Communicating clearly.
You could legitimately argue that they are just doing their job and yet it feels like something special. Something unexpected.
We had a similar experience with carpets we have fitted throughout our house last year; again, by a local business. They were outstanding to deal with and provided us with a brilliant product and a great service. Why have these two experiences felt so different from others? Why do they stand out? Why am I writing about them today? The obvious answer is because they are so different to our recent experiences with other providers of goods and services for us and our home – there was something distinctive about the approach taken and how it made us feel.
A history of no replies to emails; no being phoned back as promised; not arriving on time to start the work; not finishing the work on time; broadcast not receive when discussing our requirements. Not treating us as individual customers but as just another number; another source of income. This has been a more regular experience for us – if indeed we could get someone, mostly often a plumber, to actually engage with us at all.
Our bathroom and carpet experience could not be more different from this and yet they both do similar and simple things that others could learnt from. Face to face contact – emails to share quotes, prices, billing etc but the personal touch of coming around to your front door to discuss plans with you and making you feel like your business is not only welcome but valued. Phone calls to check you are happy each day. The owner of the business visiting to inspect the work in progress and then at the end of the job returning to ensure the required standard has been met. I hesitate to use the phrase “old fashioned values” but that is how it has felt. A time before everything was done online; a time when your word was your honour. It has been refreshing and it has led us to tell loads and loads of people about it – to recommend these businesses over and over again.
Just think about that experience the next time you try to sort out your broadband; you deal with an estate agent or you try to get a doctor’s appointment. The traditional values of service, respect and professionalism may sometimes feel in sort supply but they are out there – you just have to look hard.
As someone who owns a business and deals every day with his clients, this is something I think about all the time. I see every call, meeting, email, report or piece of advice as an opportunity not only to deliver good work but a good experience. To help your customer have a better day. To help put smiles on face. To help the world go around a little better.