Customer sERVICE

Customer service in the construction industry

Previous to being elected to Guelph City Council in 2006, I worked as both a site supervisor and project manager in the Industrial/Commercial/Institutional (ICI) Construction industry. Our clients included the Municipalities of Peel and Halton and the Universities of Toronto, York, Ryerson and Guelph.

While I continue to learn more about ICI Construction, the one strength I brought to the table was customer service. While trade performance was much of what I did, managing customer expectations ended up being a much more important component of the job description.

It’s all about the relationship and open communications with the customer.

If a specified fixture has a delayed delivery time, let the customer know. If weather is delaying the project, communicate this with the customer. If an unknown site condition presents itself, send off a note to the customer.

Many times, these issues lead to a change in the contract, also referred to as change orders. Change orders can also be as a result of an alteration request made by the client.

Make no mistake, as a contractor, change orders are fantastic.

During the bidding process, contractors usually have their pencils so sharpened that profit is cut to the very minimum. Change orders are the opportunity to claw back some of that profit.

If there is a change in scope to a project, either the architectural or engineering consultant will issue a change order. An attentive project manager can also issue a change order request to move things along quicker.

Either way, the contractor will price the change in scope to the work and provide a revised timeline in which the work will be completed. Sometimes no additional time is required. Other times days, weeks or months may be required.

Regardless of the time required, the client deserves this information in a timely fashion. It’s just good customer service.    ian

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