HOW TO OPTIMIZE CUSTOMER SERVICE IN CONSTRUCTION
Quality customer service means exceeding your client’s expectations. Every client and every job has a unique set of requirements. So how best to measure the progress of a project and whether the customer is satisfied along the way?
Communication is Key
With every business relationship it is necessary to establish clear communication. With construction work it is especially important to keep your client informed of the job’s progress. This does not mean waiting until your client asks about it, however, as that leaves too much to chance. If a client has a concern but does not voice it right away, that worry will turn to stress. A good project manager knows that less stress for their client means higher satisfaction, better reviews, and more work. So check in with your clients – always – and keep them updated as much as possible.
As a project manager, communication only begins with the client. Every component of a job requires sharing information – calendars, measurements, change orders, addresses, materials lists – and involves many hard working hands. With multiple jobs the people in need of your time quickly multiplies. One wrong quote or a typo can result in hours of wasted time and energy, so it is crucial to stay organized and in touch with everyone.
In order to boost communication frequency and streamline the process, use apps that are dedicated to project management for construction businesses. The time you invest in connecting regularly with your clients and contractors will pay off but it should not take you away from everything else you need to do.
Honesty and Transparency
With design and construction work, variables are never-ending. Defective equipment, shipping delays, and weather – to name a few - can all set a job back. Change order requests generally mean rescheduling, reordering, and result in more time and money invested. Various reasons for construction cost and schedule overruns in any project include design error, inadequate scope, weather, project changes, and underestimating the time needed to complete the project. Items omitted from the contractor’s estimate of the projects due to design errors or inadequate scope frequently result in change orders, which increase cost as well as the time of delivery. Underestimating the construction time is detrimental because another important project may be delayed from going to bid until the current project is completed.
According to one of the leading statistics companies on the internet, time delay, achieving productivities, and weather account for 60% of the root causes for cost overruns in construction projects worldwide. Data is based on a survey among leaders in the construction industry and built environment, across a broad spectrum of market sectors including general building, transportation, petroleum, power, industrial, manufacturing, sewer and waste, water, hazardous waste, and many others.
When new requests are made, your client needs to know how changes mid-job will alter the budget. And your crew needs to be kept abreast of how change orders will affect their work schedule. In fact, according to a study from KPMG, just 31% of all projects came within 10% of the budget in the past 3 years. However, with project budgets being scrutinized more so than ever and overall industry productivity remaining stagnant, construction professionals can’t really afford to accept the new normal.
1% of all projects came within
10% of the budget in the
past 3 years
One of the best ways to keep your client and crew on the same page is to include everyone via apps, devices, and other innovative construction business aids which allow for change orders, notes, and updates to be seen by everyone.
When a reconstruction job can be stored in one place online - in a mobile app - and divided by room, each contractor can receive information about the room in which they will work. With the location address and photos of each room, floor plans, materials lists, and notes all included, everyone is linkedin.
Time and Efficiency
With all the moving parts involved in design and construction, it is imperative that project managers streamline their work. Collecting bids from multiple contractors, scheduling workers, coordinating shipments, and keeping the lines of communication open with your client means more time emailing, calling, and texting, and less time overseeing work and connecting with your team in-person.
HOW TIME MANAGEMENT MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Time management means:
- Strategic scheduling
- Cost Savings
- Using project management software
- Pinpointing what causes delays and how they occur
- Researching delay mitigation methods used by others on the project
- Successful scheduling and prevention of delay methods
The biggest concern for time management is identifying and management of delays. Time factor management, scheduling and bidding methods include using scheduling techniques and software that can demonstrate the impact of any delay that occurs as a result of unforeseen problems and unplanned events. This can be costly in several ways. However, this can often be helped with data provided with project management software that is being used. Once identified, delays can be isolated, measured, and placed in a group with other delays for resolution and future improvement. Documenting projects does more than help you manage them. It provides financial support anytime you need to allocate or apportion damages or change orders. In other words, it protects you as a contractor and provides transparency to your customer.
The most efficient projects managers and contractors utilize technology to improve their use of time. Imagine if all the hours you spent emailing separate contractors about change orders could be reduced to two steps:
1. Update your in-app project, and
2. Share the updates.
No need to attach photos to an email or explain where a measurement was taken – it is all in one place with visuals and notes so that your team of contractors can receive a quick text from you, follow a link, and see what needs to be done.
Your time is valuable. And when you figure out ways to be more efficient, you help everyone on your team be more productive as well. If you are not yet using your smartphone to its full potential in your work, it is time to converge job information and re-organize your workflow.
A FEW MISCELLANEOUS TIPS
- Use your smartphone wisely.
- Only respond to important stuff right away.
- Use special apps to streamline operations like tagging photos of projects in process.
- Control the paperwork, don’t let it control you. (Consider storing documents, floorplans and photos your project management app.)
- Delegate! And do it through the right project management app.
Building construction projects are complex endeavors. Change orders and hiccups can cost a great deal and that money is sometimes coming out of your pocket. Don’t lose money because you didn’t prepare; make scheduling and progress reports part of every contract you take.
Make your Customer Service Reviews Soar Above the Rest
Great reviews build a reputation of delivering great quality work. Rehires become more likely and new customers seek you out or get referrals to you. In order to receive the recognition your hard work deserves, you cannot just meet your client’s expectations – you have to exceed them. And that requires more than a combination of good design, material specifications, and high construction standards. You have to understand how your work is perceived.
Getting to know your client’s expectations for the job means making the most of every chance you have to communicate with him/her. Have the right questions ready to ask. Be clear about your goals. Explain how you will keep your client updated throughout the process and then follow through. Upon completion of the job, send before-and-after photos, which can all be stored and shared digitally.
If you implement tools into your daily regimen that assist with your workflow, your time can be redirected into connecting with your team. When everyone involved on the job – from clients to subcontractors – are looped into the same mobile application, you have shared visuals of the work in progress and a platform for communication. When your team feels valued and connected, it will show in their work. And when the work you deliver exceeds what your client expected, your reputation will benefit.