Customers – Can’t Live Without Them

Your business doesn't exist without your customers, but equally, your customers can be one of your greatest liabilities. It is very easy to put aside a problem with a customer and plan to deal with it 'later'. While time passes and other 'easier' tasks get done.
 
 
In my experience, it has always been best to deal with a complaint or any problems straight away. Not that I always did. Hense the experience.
Speaking from experience…
A recent example where I have been the customer illustrates the point very well.

 
A few years ago we built a house. About 12 months later the builder had to come back and replace the tiling to the base of both showers. What we hadn't been told is that any cracking or lifting of tiles within two years of installation is considered a builders' defect and must be repaired under warranty by the builder. At least that is the case in Victoria, Australia.
 
Under the relevant laws dealing with domestic building, there is also a seven year implied warranty on all building work. So that if something goes wrong in the building work during that time, the builder has to fix it.
 
The problem we had was that when the builder fixed the tiles in the ensuite, the screen was not replaced properly and it leaked. That was not a major problem. It could have been fixed very quickly and easily. We did recieve a phone call from the builder about a month after the work was done to check and see that it was fine. The call came out of the blue and whilst I was distracted by the work I was doing. So my answer was, of course, that it was all good.
 
About a week later, after chatting with my husband and being reminded that the shower leaked, I rang the builder back. My consultant wasn't available. I left a message. My call was not returned. I remembered again another week or so later. I rang again. The cycle was repeated. I still had not been able to speak to someone after a couple of months so I sent an email. No response. I sent another email. And another.
 
Eventually, life got in the way even though the problem had not been fixed. Fast forward three years and we're preparing the house for sale. Now there is a nasty looking moldy bit at the end of the shower where the plaster has swelled near the floor. After finding out from consumer affairs that it is covered by the builder's warranty, as long as we didn't get anyone else in to fix it, we wrote to the builder, registered mail.
 
Now the builder is going to fix it. The problem appears to have been that the frame was not properly siliconed at the time, leaving a hole where the water leaks out, instead of back into the base of the shower. Imagine how much more time and materials are involved in making the repair now. Plaster needs to be replaced, the door jam needs to be replaced, painting and so on. If, instead of fobbing us off in the first place, the problem was fixed, all that extra work and expense would have been avoided.
 
My own experience was about a legal bill, of course!

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