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Angie's List: Be a Better Customer

Sometimes the key to customer service, is being a better customer.
If you want great customer service, you may have to take some responsibility and be a good customer.

“Over the years the one thing I know that companies aren't mind readers. The key to a great company-consumer relationship is communication and that requires great communication from the consumer side, too. Be sure to tell them what you are looking for, what you like, and what you don't like. Be considerate, but be great communicators,” Angie Hicks said.

Angie's List says the best customers are aware of what they want, understand their budget and are willing to take suggestions.

"The best customers think ahead. They've put some thought and time into planning out a project and understanding of what they want to do and what they can afford. They have looked at their budget. They may not have an exact price, but they have an idea on what they can afford to spend and what to do with that,” Jeffrey Morgan, a Remodeling Contractor said.

"I think the best traits of our favorable customers are the ones that completely trust in the vision and the guidance and the design. Any high rated company didn't become a high rated company by chance. They became highly rated because they looked out for the client's best interest,” Jon Guy, a Remodeling Contractor said.

When working with any company or contractor, it's important to voice your concerns and expectations.

I know not everyone is comfortable speaking up in a situation. You know, sometimes I'm not. But it's important that you understand what you are looking for and take it from a fact position, instead of getting emotional. Explain here are the rules. Set things out in the beginning of the situation, in the beginning of the project so you have guidelines. It will make the communication much easier,” Angie Hicks said.

"It's okay to change something, just try to understand the ramification of that and it's likely to cost more money, not always, but a lot of times a change mid-stream, a contractor has already bought materials, he's already got guys scheduled and lined up, and you throw a wrench into that and there's a cost into that,” Morgan said.

"I think once a client has had a bad experience if you go back through all the statistics it was typically the lowest bidder, typically an unrated company, and then the experience happens and they wonder why and it's because this isn't an easy industry. It's very difficult and to operate with high ratings and have the customer's satisfaction is worth its weight in gold,” Guy said.

Be open and honest with contractors during the hiring process.  Let unsuccessful bidders know when you've made your final choice.  Don't worry that you're offending them, it happens.

Are you a conscientious consumer?  Angie’s List says ask yourself these 5 questions:

1.      Are you responsive? When you’re evaluating several companies before selecting one, make sure to inform everyone about where you are in the hiring process. At the very least, let the unsuccessful bidders know when you’ve made your choice. Don’t worry that you’re offending them. It’s much more polite to give service providers the information they need to move on and not waste time in the belief they’re still in the running for a job. Consider also providing them details they could use to improve their odds of getting the next project.

2.      Do you clearly state your expectations? Service providers aren’t mind readers. If there are things you want, or rules you want followed, say so. Do you want workers to use a particular bathroom and not another? Do you want your driveway left clear? Being specific at the start of a project reduces the odds that you’ll have to have awkward conversations later.

3.      Do you know that change orders have consequences? A detailed contract creates satisfying contractor-customer relationships. Even the best laid plans change, however. If you want to alter the original agreement, be sure to discuss it with your service provider and get a clear understanding of how job changes affect timeframe and cost.

4.      Do you mind your manners? The interaction between contractors and consumers is, in many ways, a negotiation. After all, there’s often a lot at stake. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be cordial. If you hire top-rated pros but find that you repeatedly experience a lot of conflict, examine whether you’re treating them the way you’d like to be treated. If you haven’t always practiced the Golden Rule, this is your golden opportunity to make a New Year’s resolution to show courtesy and all those other virtues you learned in kindergarten.

5.      Do you give praise when it’s due? Around the holiday season, many people provide gifts or cash tips to service providers they regularly use, such as housecleaners, handymen and hair stylists. These treats have their place, but their impact may pale when compared to the power a positive online review can have on a company’s ability to build and maintain clientele. If a particular employee impressed you, considering naming them in your review, or sending a letter about them to the company.

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