5 Things Customers Consider Before Hiring a Contractor

A lot of things have changed over the years, but a customer’s desire for a great service experience has remained constant. Angie’s List members are asked to grade on five specific areas when reviews are crafted. They are the areas of most concern and are a huge factor in their hiring decisions. Incorporating these five components of a customer’s hiring decision may help businesses earn loyal, repeat customers that may also contribute to the business’s bottom line.

  • Quality
  • Professionalism
  • Responsiveness
  • Punctuality
  • Price

Quality
When it comes to hiring for home improvement, consumers tell Angie’s List they have two major concerns: getting the work done and whether they’ll be charged a fair price. Quality isn’t just about the work completed; it’s also about the customer’s perception of the entire experience.

Obviously, doing quality work is crucial, but when a customer ends up unhappy and shares that experience, the problem is often rooted in a misaligned view of the final outcome.  When delivering a quality job and experience, contractors should keep a few things in mind:

  • Pay attention to details. A comprehensive contract that spells out everything – from project details to a payment plan to timelines to specific materials that will be used – helps in aligning expectations.
  • Be transparent about work methods. Who will be on the job? How can the project manager be reached?
  • Be respectful of your customer from the bid to the final payment and respect their home as well. It may be a work site, but it is where the customer lives, and they’ll likely be living around your crew as well. Make those interactions as comfortable as possible.
  • Raise red flags fast. If an unexpected problem is uncovered, contact the customer right away and find a way to resolve it fast. No one likes unhappy surprises.

Professionalism
Professionalism affects almost every customer interaction, whether that’s communicating with them over the phone before the job starts, cleaning up once it’s finished, dealing with kids or pets, or the daily slog of getting the work done. And it has a huge effect on a business’s professionalism, from a customer standpoint. A 2015 Angie’s List member survey showed that a staggering 80 percent of the time, when customers expressed dissatisfaction with a service provider, a lack of professionalism was to blame. This can easily be avoided by incorporating the following:

  • Respond as quickly as possible to customers when they call, email or text.
  • Show off accurate, updated credentials, including bonding, insurance and licensing.
  • Look the part. Some jobs are dirtier than others, but crews should start the day with a neat and clean appearance. Assume the home is a smoke-free site and be aware that conversations might be within earshot of customers and neighbors. 
  • Be kind to children, visitors and pets. Chances are that an interaction with every family member will be made at some point. How they are treated will be noted and rewarded accordingly.

Responsiveness
When a potential customer reaches out for a job, they are probably sending inquiries to other service providers, too. One of the best ways to land the job and earn a customer’s satisfaction is to be responsive to their inquiries, questions and special needs. Make it a best practice to:

  • Respond to all requests as soon as possible.
  • Maintain multiple lines of communication. These days, many customers prefer texting or using apps instead of phone calls or even emails.
  • Answer questions as clearly as possible without being condescending.
  • Say “thank you.” Even if the job is awarded to a competitor, a simple “thank you” can go a long way to form a positive impression. Your next job may be one that a competitor could not complete. And, once the job is done, say “thank you” again and take the opportunity to ensure the customer is happy with the work. Hearing that a customer is unhappy through a third party may have a lasting negative affect.

Punctuality
Most have experienced the dreaded half-day window of time when a service tech might show up. Customers have other commitments they’ve had to reschedule or rearrange to make sure they were home when a service provider arrives. Therefore, being just five minutes late is enough to cause a negative impression, according to a recent Angie’s List member messaging and scheduling satisfaction survey. Assume customers are working under tight deadlines, just like service providers, so accommodate their schedules accordingly. To help mitigate an unexpected negative series of events, remember to:

  • Prepare for appointments in advance to help insure a prompt arrival time.
  • Agree on the best way to contact customers before scheduling a job.
  • Maintain open lines of communication and be sure to let the customer know if there is a chance of not arriving at the agreed upon time.

Price
Pricing is a huge concern for customers. It’s one of the biggest worries they have when it comes to hiring contractors. Many times, customers are unfamiliar with the details that can affect pricing, like building materials, billing structure and other specifications of the job, so don’t take it personally. Help customers understand and feel better about the prices they pay – be sure to:

  • Be transparent about every detail that contributed to the price of the job, including overhead, scheduling, transportation, etc.
  • In the contract, be as specific as possible regarding pricing and payment plans and be clear about change orders. Requiring approval for change orders in writing is a great way to ensure customer aren’t surprised later.
  • Don’t make customers ask for special offers, discounts or promotions. They appreciate – and remember – businesses that work hard to offer them not only the best work product, but the best price.

By providing an exceptional customer experience through excellent quality of work, professionalism, responsiveness, punctuality and price, businesses are able to deliver consistent services that can help to create loyal, quality customers upon which long term relationships can be built.