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Taking a break

Expectations, or how I blew a chance to promote our services

We all have expectations on almost everything in life. But specially on how we are going to be treated by businesses.
Sometimes however, our expectations don't match the reality - for better or for worse. And then we're either disappointed or overjoyed. The other side of the coin is of course the expectation of the business owner, rep, sales person etc on his or her client.

Both types are based on experiences, mostly our own or from Word-of-Mouth. We aim to fulfil expectations/have them fulfilled and sometimes we fail dreadfully. As I did last week.

The problem is, our trade - supply and installation of quality wooden flooring - is regarded by some as a 'building' trade, like carpenters, plumbers, conservatory builders etc. That trade is, unfortunately, littered with 'cowboys': promise the world, delivery the minimum - or less - and rip of the client for as much as you can.
It's hard fighting against 'cowboys', but we try.

Back to last week. I received a phone call from a client we'd installed a floor for some months ago, during a time other buildings works were being done too. Our client wasn't happy, the wooden floor looked patchy.
Before I could even start to explain our 4-seasons guarantee on labour my client erupted in, well let's call it 'none to nice sounding comments' on the attitude of trades persons. Cowboys, the lot of them! And we shouldn't expect any recommendations from him too! 
We try very hard with everything to have the level of perception on quality wooden flooring fitters raised and then you're treated like this: tarred with the same brush as all cowboys!

So, in all fairness, I lost it. Became defensive, even angry - about that tar brush, very sticky - and said exactly those things I shouldn't have said. In the end we did make an appointment with the client to check on the floor - which is a normal, standard part of our 4 seasons guarantee - but I fear he won't easily be happy with us.

What I've should have said was something along the lines of:

"I'm under the impression you have been let down badly by trades before or even very recently. Well, we at Wood You Like, pride ourselves on our after service, for your peace of mind we even created our 4-seasons guarantee on labour. Meaning, during the first 4 seasons your floor settles to its surroundings in your home which has its own specific hours-climate, you can call us whenever you think your floor isn't happy.
That's our standard policy, so which date and time would suite you most for us to come and have a look and perhaps even treat the floor with some extra TLC."

Of course, all of the above is always mentioned in our documentation we leave at the client when we've finished the works, plus we send a 'happy reminder' of this 3 to 4 weeks afterwards, but I can image when there are a lot of other building works going on you're not going to pay that much attention to it.

Another lesson learned. Before going into the defensive mode - of course we're no cowboys, how dare you! - I should change the expectations of the client towards the expectations we know he can honestly have from us (and most of our clients have when dealing with us).

Side-note. Writing this epistle I'm not sure if it would count for a contribution to my turtle friend Robert's latest Group Writing Project at MZM "What I learned from Change"

or my contribution - late as ever! - for my Aussie friend Pete Aldin's Great Circle - "How I won the war, or how I'm winning the war on..... - in my case - cowboys.

I think I'll let the 'boys' decide. Should it be worth telling them I have high expectations? ;-)


Robert Hruzek

Howdy, Karin! Hey, this sounds like a learning experience to me! There's noting more invigorating and challenging than dealing with an irate client - especially when you've done nothing to warrant it; and even more so if you have! (Eek! Been there, done that - and just recently, too!)

How about if I title this "What I Learned From My Client's Expectations", and call it an entry! :-)


Karin H.

Hi Robert

Cheers! Knew you would fulfil my expectations ;-)

Karin H.

Pete Aldin

Them Cowboys is a royal pain in the pants! Good post, I'll link to it and provide a "taster" portion of it on Great Circle early next week...

Nicely done: killing two writing projects with one post! :)

Karin H.

Hi Pete

Cowboys, if they were a bit more like good old John Wayne I wouldn't mind them so much ;-)

Karin H.

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