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Do Your Customers Know What’s Next?

Set proper expectations right from the start of a job to improve the client’s experience.

By Henry Clifford

Unless it’s a big check or birthday party, people don’t like surprises, especially when it comes to spending their hard-earned money. Unexpected change orders during home technology projects can ruin a customer experience, leading to frustration and damaged reputations. Our industry suffers from one of the worst customer satisfaction ratings around. Why? Ninety-nine percent of customer issues usually come down to one key area: failure to properly set expectations.

We’ve been in business for 17 years and constantly learn by making mistakes. I have a varsity letter in mistake making (we just try not to make the same ones twice). We recently took our most common customer expectation failures and put them all in a “No Surprises” document (big thanks to our own Brad Camp for spearheading this effort). Here it is:

Livewire’s “No Surprises” Policy
Livewire is committed to completing your project at the price we provided to you from the start. Also, we know that no one likes unpleasant surprises, especially when it comes to finances, so we created this policy to make you aware of the events that often result in a price increase during a new installation. Finally, we believe in open and honest communication, and believe it is our duty to inform you ahead of time about those situations that may cause an increase to the final price of a project. Here are the most frequent instances that may increase the price of a project:

  1. We are unable to gain timely access to the home, business, or specific areas of the home/business during any part of our scheduled installation.
  2. Installation areas, such as crawl spaces, attics, or closets, are inaccessible or deemed unsafe.
  3. Fire blocking or other hidden in-wall obstructions prevent or delay wire fishing and other related installation services. [Note: Access holes may need to be cut in walls or ceiling to run wiring. Livewire will not be responsible for the application of patching compound, sanding, or painting. Livewire will, upon request, provide a quote for the repairs from a licensed and insured repair company.]
  4. Existing devices and/or wiring are deemed defective, improperly configured, or incompatible with new system hardware.
  5. Integrating customer-owned equipment takes longer than anticipated.
  6. Additional programming or personalization is requested beyond the initial agreement.
  7. TV, internet, and/or phone services are not active or the associated hardware (i.e., cable boxes, router, etc.) is not installed or delivered prior to Livewire’s scheduled installation date. [Note: If the service provider is not able to activate the applicable services, it is the customer’s responsibility to notify Livewire’s project coordinator at 804-793-8919 ext. 3 before 5:00 pm the day prior to the scheduled installation date.]
  8. A customer-provided network presents complications, delays, or the inability to complete our installation.
  9. Customer-provided contractors delay Livewire’s installation schedule.
  10. Customer is not present at the time of project completion for user training and project sign-off.

Also by Henry Clifford: Planning for 2019 — Start Here

Our biggest challenges in the field usually result from customers disputing labor charges. We’ll say it’s 16 hours and they say we should have to eat some of that due to lack of productivity, etc. By communicating before, during, and after the job with the customer, project manager, and installation teams, we’ve gone a long way to driving down these customer concerns and setting our jobs up for success.

Is our “No Surprises” policy perfect? Of course not. Do we still have issues with poor communication in the field? Absolutely. Is it a lot better than it used to be? You bet.

What are you doing in your business to set expectations?

Stay frosty and see you in the field.

Also by Henry Clifford: Fixing Lousy Proposals By Putting The Customer First