As a new writer, I quickly realize that many of the journal articles, books, and case studies that I read fall in line with my everyday life experiences. Recently, one topic, in particular, stood out from the rest. The value of a telephone call.
To be successful in business, communication in any form is key. Let me tell you about my recent and ongoing experience with a local plumber. All that you had to read was the word plumber, and most of you are feeling anger, frustration, and heart palpitations. Let me assure you; I continue to feel all of these. Ah, the emotions that bind us.
Our house just turned 16 years old. I wish that the only fanfare was balloons and cake. To celebrate, our home sprung a leak in the bathroom shower. I didn’t put on my Luigi outfit, grab my tools (limited to a screwdriver, hammer, and pliers) and tackle this mammoth-size job. Instead, I decided to call a professional, a plumber. These folks go to fancy schools for this type of work. They start with cool titles like apprentice, and they adorn cool plumber belts with huge wrenches. A plumber would surely fix the problem.
They arrived between the convenient hours of 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. to tell us that our small problem was a much larger one. Tile needed to be removed and pipes replaced. Someone get me the Excedrin.
They got to work, the plumber and his apprentice, to solve my water-department loving problem. After about three hours of work and a large bill, the bathroom was nothing less than a war-zone. Tiles removed, adjacent tiles cracked, faceplates scratched, and no solution to our problem. I scheduled another “convenient” appointment.
The second plumber came over the following week. The ace of plumbers. He showed an air of confidence. This plumber didn’t need an apprentice. He analyzed the previous colleagues work, shook his head, and questioned their techniques under his breath. He got to work. After an hour and a half, he was finished. Job done.
The next day, the pipe leaked again. I called the owner of the plumbing company and left a message with the receptionist about the plethora of problems. She cheerfully took a message promising a call within twenty minutes. I waited. No call. Hours later, still nothing. The next day, my anger continued to rise.
Finally, a call with a recommendation to send photos. The owner promised to call me back to explain what she could do to help. That was a start.
Then nothing. I called. I left a message. Nothing. This repeated. My anger began to boil. I made a decision. I would no longer use this plumbing company…EVER. I would also never recommend them to anyone…EVER.
What would’ve changed my mind? Simple. A phone call. A gesture of understanding. Was I asking for a refund? No. A simple phone call to express I was a valuable customer and a willingness to correct the problem? Yes.
The best way to appease a customer is follow-through. That is, doing what you say you are going to do and doing it. It’s a relatively simple task, but it’s one that many businesses simply don’t do. There are many benefits of a telephone call. Repeat business, positive reviews, and referrals.
Stuff happens. Most people understand. Apologies for missed phone calls can go far. There are simple steps businesses can take for missing calls: apologize, explain without excuses, and answer or solve the original questions, concern, or problem. Simplicity can save your reputation, keep customers happy, provide many positive reviews.
Have you had this problem? I’d love to hear your stories either as a customer or a business owner.