At Your Service: March 17, 2010

Location, location, location – it is everything when determining the value of a real estate deal. The factors that are used in an assessment are related to the relationship a piece of property has to various conveniences, services and status symbols. It is the first lesson real estate professionals learn. Similarly, the quality of the service we receive is filtered through a series of conditions that might also be referred to as location, location, location.
Location One relates to where your services are located. Those who have a retail business appreciate the importance of their physical location to their business’ success. It also impacts the perception customers have of the service they receive. For instance, it is likely that a customer visiting a store in The Commons in Margaretville will have a different expectation then when stopping at a roadside venue along one of our byways. Either of the local stores generates a still different expectation than a store in an urban environment.
A friendly welcome is, of course the bare minimum expectation in any retail location. The urban customer might expect to be left alone to browse, particularly in the chain stores that have a standardized layout, but the same customer will expect more attention when they are in our area. Because there are many stores in the Commons, they are more likely to expect to be left to their own devices when roaming from one store to another to “look.” The simple fact that each store in our area, whatever its location, is unique demands that the customer also be given sufficient attention to enable their finding what they might want or need.
When the “location” of our services is at the home or office of the customer, a completely different set of rules apply. It is then incumbent upon us to be discreet and ask for permission before proceeding. At the same time that we are laying back in terms of the customer’s space, we must present ourselves as fully present to the customer’s needs relating to the job to be done. It is a fine line that when walked appropriately leads to the most satisfied of customers.
This is often complicated for area service providers by the fact that the customer is often away from home when we are there performing our services.
The need to generate trust hinges on our creating clear communication with the customer so that what they expect and what they find when they return home are the same. Beyond the obvious (no muddy footprints on the white carpet, no easy task this time of year) we must deliver what they expected without leaving unwelcome surprises.
While in real estate the location hinges upon things that can usually be seen, our service locations are much more contingent upon our listening capabilities. Those who take the time to really hear what the customer is expressing will find that it is easy to deliver great service consistently. The customer who walks into our store and says they are “just looking” may best be served by offering assistance and then leaving them alone until asked for more help. Listening to the customer in whose home or office we are providing services will tell us exactly what they need us to do. The more acutely we listen to what our customers tell us, the more likely we are to meet their expectations.
In that way we shift importance from location (the physical aspects of our transactions) to the relationships we create. Ultimately, the quality of service is determined by relationship, relationship, relationship.