Managing the Customer’s Expectations

A plug

In October last year I bought one of those new Dyson rechargeable hoover things, which turned out to be really rather good.  So good in fact, that I have actually used it several times.  However, it only keeps its charge for about 20 minutes, which is a bit of a problem because I have nowhere to plug it in.  When the new Dyson stick thing was delivered, I had the bright idea of fitting a bracket to the wall in the under stairs cupboard so it could hang on the wall whilst being plugged in and re-charged.  Note, I only had the idea, I had no intention of actually doing the fitting myself.   However, this plan was entirely dependent upon the under stairs cupboard  acquiring a power socket. This struck me as fairly straightforward as there is a plug socket a few feet away in an adjacent room. Knowing my DIY skills are barely up to plugging something in let alone fitting electrical sockets, I decided to go online and source a qualified electrician.

This is where my problems started.  I found a sort of online yellow pages thing and rang all the electricians in Corsham.  Out of 10 calls, 7 went to voicemail and I left a message.  1 didn’t even have a voicemail and 2 answered the phone! The first person who answered listened briefly and then said he was too busy and would get back to me at some point.   The second one said he was currently busy and would call me back later that day – He never did.   Eventually 1 of the 7 I’d left messages for, actually bothered to call me back, and agreed to come out and have a look.   A week later he turned up, tutted, huffed a lot, pointed at things shaking his head and went away saying he would give me a quote, which in due course, he did.  I responded to his emailed quote within 10 minutes saying ‘Yes, that’s great I accept your quote please come and fit a plug!’

All of this was 4 months ago. I have since chased up said electrician who says he is still interested in fitting a plug socket and will get back to me. What bugs me is that I never actually asked for a quote, I asked for a plug socket to be fitted.  I keep being told this is only a 10 minute job, so I don’t understand why it’s quite so difficult and couldn’t just have been done instead of all the standing around thinking about it!

Having failed to achieve power, I then decided to look at putting a new floor in my kitchen. Again, for the right person, not a particularly complicated job, or so I thought.  Take up the tiles and put down some wood was the brief.  Initially I contacted a leading ‘national’ supplier of flooring. They sent a salesmen who got very excited at the prospect of this work and gave me a good price saying someone else would come back and ‘measure properly’.   I assume the salesman didn’t have the required training in tape measure operation… A week passed by at which point more senior YTS type person arrived to measure the floor – I assumed he had been on the ‘how to use a ruler’ training course.    It then turned out that despite offering a ‘fitting’ service for floors, (which included wood, laminate and tiles) this particular company were unable to take up floor tiles.  Their ‘plan’ was to just put the wood on top, which I was told ‘should be ok’ provided all the doors were then adjusted (by someone else) and that I didn’t mind a bit of a ‘bump’ between my kitchen and the other rooms… Funnily enough, he left shortly after telling me that and hasn’t been invited back.

All of this got me thinking about my own business plan.  I’d be mortified if I didn’t respond to an enquiry in a timely manner, particularly if it was one which had the prospect of making some money.  Moreover, if I got as far as visiting a customer in order to discuss some work and provide an accurate quotation, I would do a bit of research beforehand to try and understand their needs as best I could.  To my mind, this is a simple case of managing the customer’s expectations.

I’m probably a bit old school when it comes to doing business. I like to make sure everything is properly agreed and documented before undertaking a job. A casual phone conversation or slightly vague email simply won’t do.

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Jules Addison is Musical Director for The BlueBellesThe Pewsey BellesCirencester Male Voice ChoirBlue Notes & Great Western Harmony.