During the past 13 years I have literally had thousands of conversations with both consumers and contractors who have shared more than an earful of legitimate frustrations and complaints. Ironically, one frustration seems to ring true with both sets of people. It is that all too common complaint that “no one is returning my call!”
When you stop and think about it, these two “people groups” come together often and when they do, both groups stand a lot to gain when the relationships that form between them are positive. All service related projects or repairs are dependent somewhat on these relationships and weigh in part on the success and overall experiences for both parties of the project or repair. I thought it might be useful (and enlightening!) to present a little "perspective" on this commonplace complaint. Both groups feel they fall victim to it, but do they realize the whole picture? You ultimately decide who is worse at returning phone calls… and who can improve…. the contractor or the customer? Or maybe a little bit of both?
Customers - I bet you have experienced this before!
You make a call to a company for service or information, leave a message, and no one calls you back. Or, a company salesperson has been to your home and now you are waiting to receive their follow up estimate. Nothing happens. Or maybe the company is already doing work for you, problems arise, and you cannot get a call returned. It makes you wonder! Don’t they want your business? Are they so busy they can afford not to return your call? Is your job too small? Do you live too far away? Is the company bailing on you? Is it you? What? Don’t you wonder how some of these businesses actually stay in business with that kind of conduct?
The reality is that there are any numbers of reasons why they may not be returning your calls. I have learned long ago that things are not always the way they seem. Is it simply neglect or maybe put another way, an “exercise of poor judgment?” The bigger reality is that there really is no excuse good enough to skip out on this piece of customer servicing. Few reasons will make sense to a customer! However, things do happen that prevent someone from calling back within a reasonable amount of time. But, when they do, the right thing for a company to do is to call the customer as soon as they are able, apologize, explain the delay, and address the reason the customer had originally called. Wouldn’t you be forgiving as a customer, if you were treated that way? The answer, for the most part, is probably or just straight out YES.
So, companies take heed to this reminder. A simple return phone call can provide your customer with precisely the right kind of service experience they deserve and can also provide you with miles and miles of return, yourself. After all, one of the primary things customers are looking for is an overall positive experience. That’s great news for anyone in business because it translates to infinite opportunities to try to please. Companies that miss the boat on treating every caller as a potential customer is missing much more than a boat. Even for those customers whose jobs or projects may not be a fit, as a contractor, you stand so much to still win by treating them well. It is no secret that you are much more likely to launch your possibilities with others they know than by squelching any hopes by missing this ever so important “customer touch point.”
Contractors…. How often does this happen with you?
Contractors scratch their heads, as well, over the fact that customers won’t return their phone calls, either! As I stated in the beginning, I have had literally thousands of conversations with contractors and consumers who both feel frustrated about this same problem. Contractors wonder, too, why customers won’t return their calls or emails.
Try putting yourself in a contractor’s shoes for a moment. Their company receives a call from a customer inquiring about their services. They ask for a quote on a home project. The company sends out a knowledgeable salesperson who completes the quote, on time, professionally, and as requested. The visit seems to have gone positively and felt very friendly. A helpful exchange of information between the homeowner and the salesperson transpired. When the salesperson left, he realized the couple would need to process and discuss the information they had just learned.
The salesperson also completely understands a customers’ need to get other bids and ponder over the information collected. When he calls back to follow up, the homeowner won’t return the call. When he turns to email as a second alternative, they won’t respond that way, either. Perplexed himself, the contractor often doesn’t know if he should try again or if the homeowner decided not to hire him.
Although there are clear exceptions, most contractors encounter this scenario often and do not want to become a pest to customers. They only want to put closure to the process that was started, and certainly do hope to win your business. Most contractors acknowledge they will win some and lose some, but it’s fair to let them know either way, so they can feel good about moving forward or moving on. Perhaps the homeowner has not decided which company they will choose? Or, maybe they have decided not to go with that company? Even so, why not call him back? It is very surprising how many consumers play the same game with the contractors that they complain about themselves.
It is important to keep in mind that contractors and companies are simply doing their jobs. They are also people, like you and me. Another reminder worth mentioning is that it costs the company money and time to come to your home and provide you with the information you have asked for. When they call you to follow up, what they want to know is whether or not they will be able to do business with you, or if there is any other information you may still need. That’s all. A simple return call could save much time and agony on both ends. It’s equally frustrating for the contractor who hopes to win your business, works hard to provide you with information that will help you make a comfortable decision, and then does not receive the respect of a return phone call. On the flip side, it might help the contractor to understand a little perspective as to why this may be happening to them.
A fair number of homeowners have told me they feel bad having to tell someone they chose another company; they don’t want to hurt their feelings, so ignoring them seemed easier. Easier for who? As a consumer, if you ever find yourself in that scenario in the future, I hope you will remember that the contractor who came to your home would much rather be told you chose another company than to be told nothing at all. They can take it, trust me! So homeowners, heed this message, too. Whether you choose to hire, not to hire, postpone your project, or change your mind, all together, try and think of the contractor in terms of a professional and a person. Treat them the same way you would want them to treat you.
Want to share your good, bad, or indifferent story about this topic? We want to hear from you. Select stories may be posted anonymously on our website. We value your stories and thank you, in advance, for taking time to share them with us.