Things always go wrong at the most inconvenient times. And you can bet that the bigger the issue, the more Pole Truckinconvenient the time it happens.

It was early morning Boxing Day (a public holiday). There was a muffled whump and the tinkling of glass. I wondered what it was but didn’t get out of bed to investigate.

Fast forward a couple of hours, looking out the window I saw one of the poles holding up our electricity wires had come crashing down across our driveway. Electricity cables were trailing the ground – amazingly the power was still on.

We’re on a long battle-axe property – so I found the pole 100M away at the top of our drive had also come down, taking the phone lines with it.

This is not good. Frankly, it’s a pretty dangerous situation. The wires were insulated, but you just never know.

Ausgrid duly came out and cut the power. But they’re not responsible for reconnecting it. You are. It’s your responsibility to get the power lines from the street to your house – at your cost. And it’s the same with Gas or Telecom.

What followed next is a study in both customer service and missed opportunities. Something we can all learn from.

It’s a holiday. It’s between Christmas and New Year.

Try finding someone working over the holiday period who could come out, redo 3 major poles, re-string the wires and connect back to the grid. To add complexity they’ll need special Ausgrid certification to work on the grid – not something your average sparky can do. Aaarrgghhh!

One electrician’s phone service bluntly said, “He’s enjoying Christmas, don’t bother him – he’ll be really upset!”

Another didn’t have the certifications necessary.

The third said they’d have someone out the next morning between 7 and 9am to assess the situation.

Sure enough, 8am the next morning Dom turned up.

He spent a fair while assessing the situation, tried calling a number of wholesalers for poles and reported most were closed and the earliest we could expect something was the following Monday. Remember, this was Friday. Not good.

Imagine our surprise and delight at 11am when there was a knock on the door. “We’ve come to install the new poles and reconnect you.”

Sure enough, there was a big truck with massive post hole diggers and poles.

Quite obviously sub-contracted specialists, by 4pm they’d reconnected everything and power was restored.

Great service and we were very grateful they’d come out as an emergency and done all this.

So where’s the problem you ask?

Cleaning up after themselves was obviously not a priority.

Sure they took the old poles away, but left bits and pieces of rubbish, old wiring, drink cans and bottles around the place. Not to mention jagged bits of metal on the driveway which our tyres would not have appreciated.

Small issues, but they leave an impression re professionalism. And given the total cost of the job was north of $16,500, you’d expect more attention to detail. Nowhere during this process was the original prime contractor – Dom.

As to the lost opportunities?

Lost Opportunity One: Leaving money on the table

We found them in the online Yellow Pages – yes, Yellow Pages – rather than a generic Google search.

It was a large ad which I estimate would cost around $30,000 a year.

Depending on their margins, they’d need to bring in at least $90,000+ in new business to get an ROI on the advertising.

Also remember it takes 7 to 9 times more effort to get new business than keep selling to your existing customers. They were right there. It would have taken little additional effort to ensure we stayed as repeat customers and gave referrals.

Dom noticed the flood lights on the poles had shattered – but never offered to replace them. Maybe another couple of hundred dollars he could have got?

I’d asked Dom to quote on a small extra cabling issue. “Sure – I’ll have a look when I come back.”

And finally he knew the meter box needed a cover, said he’d come back and put one on.

Sure they’re small additions in comparison to replacing the pole, but there was no marketing cost involved. He was right there. This was a classic case of adding value and selling more.

But he never came back. Not to finish the job or to quote on the extras. So all up, they probably missed out on an extra $1,000 or 6% for no additional marketing effort whatsoever!

Lost Opportunity Two: Not asking for feedback

Dom’s employer, having coordinated the whole job never once rang to see if everything was fine and we were all happy with the result. Overall we were, but there were definite areas for improvement.

Feedback is the breakfast of champions. The only way they (or any of us) can improve is by asking for and accepting honest feedback.

And finally, if they had rung and asked for feedback, I’d have happily obliged. While I would have mentioned the negatives, there’d have been plenty they could have used to portray them in a very positive light.

After all, they came to the party at a difficult time and got us out of trouble. We’re grateful for that.

Of course, if they were one of our clients neither of these things would have happened.

One of the core concepts we drill into you is to maximise your sale both at the front end as well as gaining repeat business through delivering exceptional customer service and developing trust.

And we always insist on calling a number of your clients to find out what you do well, and where you can improve. You’d be amazed at the insights you’ll get and the positive comments you can use in testimonials.

And a client reported another side benefit from these calls. Our interviews reinforced the excellent service received resulting in a spate of extra referrals back to our client.

Want to know more about growing your business steadily? Call us on (02) 9499-7958 to start a confidential discussion.

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