Tag Archives: Customer

Remodeling Market Headed to Recovery

Remodeling Market Headed to Recovery

The National Association of Home Builders Remodeling Market Index (RMI) increased to 46.5 for the first quarter of 2011 from its previous reading of 41.5 at the end of 2010. This is the highest level for the RMI since the end of 2006. However, the fact that the RMI remains below 50 indicates that still more remodelers report activity is lower than report it is higher (compared to the previous quarter).

The RMI fell to a low of 22.1 in late 2008 during the height of the financial crisis. After that period, two tax credits (the Internal Revenue Code Section 25C remodeling credit and the 25D solar and other power production tax credit) likely provided a significant boost to the marketplace.

IRS Statistics of Income data for 2009, for example, indicate that nearly $6 billion in tax credits were claimed for these two energy-efficient remodeling tax incentives, which we estimate were used in connection with at least $20 billion in home improvement projects. These incentives likely boosted the market in early to mid-2009 and at the end of 2010. The 25D credit remains in place today, but the stimulus version of 25C expired at the end of 2010 and was replaced by a much more limited 25C credit.

The current release of the RMI also contained a special question asking remodelers to report the top reasons prospective customers are holding back from remodeling their homes:

  • Customers think it is hard to get financing (90 percent of remodeler respondents)
  • Customers have lost equity in their homes (81 percent)
  • Customers are uncertain about their future economic situation (74 percent)
  • Reluctance to invest in home when not sure home will hold its value (67 percent)
  • Negative media stories making customers more cautious (62 percent)
  • Inaccurate appraisals are making financing more difficult (54 percent)

Remodeling is important as both an economic activity for homeowners and those in the residential construction sector, but it also tracks well with total existing home sales.

So improved confidence among remodelers, as seen in the RMI, may also bode well for the growth path of existing home sales later this year.

ABOUT THE RMI: The RMI is based on a quarterly survey of professional remodelers, whose answers to a series of questions were assigned numerical values to calculate two separate indexes. The first index gauges current market conditions and is based on remodelers’ reports of major and minor additions and alterations, plus maintenance work and repairs, on both owner- and renter-occupied dwellings. The second index summarizes indicators of future remodeling activity  and is based on remodelers’ responses to questions about  calls for bids, amount of work committed for  next three months, job backlogs and appointments for proposals.

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5 Keys to Good Customer Service

5 Keys to Good Customer Service.

It was a Saturday morning full of promise. Seductive even. I woke up with creative projects I was geeked to get into, and my muse was more active than usual. On my today’s “to-do” list, were a few new freelance writing leads, an online blogging class, and my general weekend recreational reading.

I turned on my computer first to catch up on my email. Nothing pressing on that end, so I clicked on to a site to do some exploring.  Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere it happened.

I got this big red neon sign that popped on my screen alerting me to a virus attack.

So much stuff was flashing, I couldn’t turn my computer off fast enough. I panicked! Besides just signing on some new clients with files not backed up, my laptop had just been purchased about a month ago. Not to mention, my system was supposed to have been protected by an anti-virus program that I signed up with through my Internet provider. Clueless, I quickly called them. I soon wished that I hadn’t.

It was like being caught in the Twilight Zone. I was lost, transferred, directed, redirected, and lost all concepts of space and time after waiting endlessly for a tech person to troubleshoot the problem and ease my troubles. Frustrated, I did what I often do when things look bleak: I prayed.

Next, I tried a little trick that had worked for me some time ago that I read on the internet that involves restoring the system.

And voila, I was back in business!

Altogether, it was two hours of my life that I’ll never get back. But, I did learn some valuable lessons in the process that I’d like to share with you today.

Here are five keys to good customer service, designed to increase your effectiveness and decrease customers’ grief when dealing with the public.

  1. Be prepared. There’s nothing more frustrating than connecting with a customer service representative that has to “grab a pen”, or pull up the system, or sign-in before they help you. Weren’t you expecting to “work” when you came into work?
  2. Value people’s time. If you’re going to keep someone on hold for more than a few minutes, let them know about how long and why. Give them the option of whether or not they want to be detained or called back. Put yourself in other people’s shoes and think of how you’d like to be treated.
  3. Don’t take it out on customers if you don’t like your job. Hello…we’re the reason you have a job! Not to mention, your personality, preparedness and poise is a reflection on your company.
  4. Never promise more than you can deliver. When I first signed up for computer virus protection, I wasn’t informed that it was a “gamble”. I’ve now been told that no virus protection software is 100% and even if you buy the best, you can still be vulnerable to attacks. Don’t make promises if you don’t intend to deliver on them.
  5. Be pleasant. Being pleasant, friendly, and courteous always makes a bad situation better. And it increases the likelihood of customer satisfaction and repeat business. Which makes for a win-win situation for all!

Why good customer service should be on your daily “things to do” list.

Good or bad, customer service leaves an indelible impression on potential and existing customers, even in today’s fast paced, technological environment.  And truth be told, most folks will endure more, pay more, and show fierce loyalty for courteous treatment, small perks, and the feeling of being valued.  Whether it’s a liberal  “return policy” at a store, businesses that acknowledge and reward your “relationship anniversary” with them, or service with a smile.

For example, in the area in which I live, there are numerous big-shot banks that have offices across the country and spend millions on marketing campaigns. I can walk to many of their branches. But instead, I travel for about 45 minutes to a smaller bank that is big on customer service, and where the tellers and bankers know me by name. It’s not unusual for them to go out of their way to assist me with a problem, or to call me up on the phone when I’ve made an error in my accounting.

Even when being wooed by other banks through promotional materials in the mail, I’ve decided to stay rooted where I am.  And as a way of showing my thanks, I often refer colleagues, family members and friends to their doors.

Good customer service translates into repeat business, an increased bottom line, and your economic survival.

And that just makes good business sense even on bad days!

(Image courtesy of striatic under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 generic license.)

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