Construction projects take months or years to complete and require ongoing input from the customer. A proactive approach to customer service is essential to construction success. Instead of relying solely on charisma and sales ability to keep customers happy, use a relationship management approach.
A Relationship Management Approach: The Foundation for Customer Service
Picture this situation — your construction company specializes in office buildings in major urban centers like Chicago and New York. A single new customer is worth millions of dollars in revenue per year. You may start with a small scale renovation project or jump into building a tower from scratch. If you want to deepen your accounts, you need to take a relationship management approach to your construction customers.
How is a relationship different from transactions? When you focus on individual sales, you focus narrowly on completing the project. You probably neglect or forget to apply yourself to understanding the customer’s needs more broadly. The result? Your company may be blindsided by new strategic changes and miss subtle signals of customer dissatisfaction. Turning that process around requires two steps.
- Start by acknowledging that a relationship approach — seeking to understand and assist the customer beyond a specific transaction — is valuable.
- Develop tools and habits that ensure you follow through to develop the connection. Use digital forms to easily track your process and gather information about your customers. You can connect your forms with your CRM system, such as Salesforce, to create a database of key information about your customers.
Tip: To keep customers happy and win in business, you need to develop networking habits. For more insight on how to build relationships, read “Never Eat Alone.”
Once you've committed to a relationship management strategy, use these steps to learn more about your customers and look for additional opportunities to provide value and partner with them in the future.
1. Gather Customer Intelligence for Account Planning
Your construction firm likely has multi-year commitments with your customers. In that situation, it makes sense to develop an annual relationship plan. To coach staff accordingly, create a digital form that indicates the essential customer intelligence required to grow the account.
- What are the customer’s goals for the current year?
- What are the long-term threats facing the customer?
- Have you surveyed the customer for feedback in the past 12 months?
- Has the customer been invited to a customer appreciation event in the past 12 months?
- In the past 12 months, how many times have you met with the customer by phone or in person?
By tracking the points above on a digital form, you will start to see additional ways to improve customer service.
2. Identify Additional Relationship Opportunities
"50% [of] consumers are likely to switch brands if a company does not anticipate their needs," reports Salesforce.
It is much easier to close a sale with a current customer than attempt to land a new one. Retaining current customers costs less too. To find opportunities to provide additional value, ask your staff to dedicate some of their time developing relationships with companies you already do business with.
Ask your staff how they have done the following:
- Have you met any new managers or executives at your accounts in the past year?
- Do you have a “backup contact” at the company if your primary contact is sick or on vacation?
- Does the company have expansion plans to new locations? If so, provide details.
Your employees may already have the above information. The key is to collect that in a central place to detect patterns and plan your company’s approach.
3. Seek Out Customer Pain Points and Solve Them Early
Some customers will not complain when small problems occur. However, you can often open them up if you proactively seek their opinions and perspectives on your construction project. Ask your sales staff to fill in a quarterly report covering the following points:
- Have any of the customers KPIs gone below green in the past year? If so, what was done to recover the situation?
- What steps do you take to seek feedback from the customer on a regular basis?
- What “extra mile” measures has our company taken to satisfy the customer?
Creating and maintaining solid relationships with your customers is a smart business move. It will lead to more referrals, increase the number of repeat customers, and give you something to fall back on should an unexpected problem occur.
Want to start using digital forms? The Device Magic mobile forms app makes it easy.