She and her husband had recently hired a well-known interior design firm to assist with planning the interiors of their recently purchased home. The first consultation went well and these clients were well on their way to a dream home . . . or so they thought!
The scope of the work included new flooring, faux finished walls, custom draperies, custom wood designs, lighting and accessorizing among other finishing touches. The designer set up various appointments with contractors and subcontractors. This is about the time the nightmare began.
Of the many individuals bidding jobs—installers, assistants, etc.—some fell short of a professional attitude, not showing up when specified and other problems. And this was only the beginning. It seemed the stories given most of the time were, "Well, I am so busy I was still at my previous client's home, and I just cannot always be there when promised." "We are so sorry, but we cannot show up today." The client asked me, "What shall I do?"
SOLUTION:In this day of so many prosperous businesses, it seems customer service is in an uproar. While this does not reflect on all businesses, it does seem to be the attitude a good percentage of clients get when business is booming.
The lack of a professional attitude and customer service will catch up to individuals who conduct business in the manor described above. Below I have listed some guidelines that clients, contractors and subcontractors alike can follow to keep this from happening.
1.As a client, ask to be contacted by telephone the night before to confirm an appointment. Immediately notify the interior designer you are working with if someone does not show up on time.
2.As a provider of a service, confirm your appointment with the client, specify a time frame, stay within that time frame, appear professional and show a positive attitude.
3.As a provider of a service, do not downplay the decorating ideas the interior designer has provided the client.
4.As a provider of a service, answer questions pertaining to the installation and confirm that the client understands her or his role in the installation process.
5.Confirm with the client the work to be done. A proposal in writing with an area for the client's signature will avoid any misunderstanding.
6.As the client, do not try to change any procedure with the installer without calling the interior designer first. The client's contract is usually with the interior designer, not the installer.
7.The time schedule is of the utmost importance for both the client and the service provider. Any changes will affect the outcome of the job.
8.When it's necessary to make a phone call while on the job, ask the client if you can use the phone and assure her or him that long distance calls will be compensated for.
9.The interior designer in charge of the project is required to attend the installation. This will assist with resolving quickly and equitably any problems that may occur.
10.The interior designer should always be in contact with the individuals he or she is working with to confirm times and dates of client appointments and installations.
We must never forget that the client is our first priority. Remembering why we are in business will help us keep it successful for years to come.
Sharon L. Anderson has more than 20 years experience as a professional interior designer in both commercial and residential design. She has taught at numerous colleges throughout California and currently is an educator at Moorpark college in southern California. She is a published author and frequent public speaker.