One of the most important things I learned early on in my career is that consistent communication with clients is critical and will set you apart from your competitors. This may sound obvious but the less obvious point is the significance of staying in communication even when there isn’t anything definitive to discuss. For example, let me share two instances where communication made all the difference in my opinion of each service provider.
I recently had my bumper replaced after being involved in a car accident (I was not at fault), and concurrently, I was planning a birthday party at a venue.
Let’s start with my repair shop experience:
A week after my bumper was replaced, I found it to be defective. To their credit, the repair shop immediately ordered a new bumper and told me to come in that Friday to have it installed. However, I went in on Friday and the owner smacked his forehead saying, “We have your bumper but my guy forgot to paint it this morning.” I stood there thinking, “Fine, but a call would have been nice.” So the following Tuesday I returned to then be told that the painted bumper was the wrong model. They assured me once again a new bumper would be ordered that week. Four days went by and I have yet to hear from the repair shop with any sort of update – “Your bumper will be in on Wednesday and you can bring the car in on Thursday,” or, “The bumper is on backorder for a week so we will call you when it’s in.” Things happen – repair shops get busy; the wrong parts are delivered – this I can look past. What I can’t look past is the lack of communication on the repair’s shop part.
In comparison, the following is my experience with the party venue:
I called the venue and was told that the evening I was requesting had already been reserved by another person, but they had not put down a deposit; there is a grace period of a week to do so. Instead of just saying was reserved and moving on, the person helping me, Will, said he would contact the original person to confirm and obtain their deposit so we’d know if it would be available or not. Within two days, Will and I spoke four times. Not one of those calls was to tell me that I could or could not have the venue, it was merely to update me on the status of the booking. Will tried the other party a few times with no response, and then ultimately, said he would proceed with getting his manager’s approval to allow me to reserve the night. He went on to apologize for the back and forth and asked what the best way to contact me with a response would be – phone call, text or email. I was amazed each time we spoke that, although he didn’t have an answer, he understood that this evening was important to me, and I appreciated being kept in the loop. Taking the extra step of asking the best way to contact me was also much appreciated.
Status updates can make all the difference. For our clients, we continuously follow up multiple times on their behalf with the media and vendors. They appreciate knowing the status of our follow-ups even if we can’t say at that moment, “The editor plans to run your article in next week’s issue.” You’ll never hear a client say, “I didn’t like that firm because they always kept me up-to-date.”
Ultimately, I will be hesitant to recommend the repair shop in the future, but whether I am able to reserve the party venue or not, I plan to call Will’s manager to compliment the way he handled our interaction.