By Frank Sciarrino
You just finished another countertop installation, you’re heading out the door with another satisfied customer, and you’re on to the next job site. A few weeks later, if not sooner, you’re alerted about a negative online review. Your customer’s countertop cracked. It was not cracked when you left, but regardless, the customer is blaming you. You have no way of knowing what really happened. Maybe they stood on it while changing a light bulb. Perhaps a hot pan caused extreme temperature fluctuations.
So why is it your fault? It’s all about basic customer service and the management of expectations. You’re not spending enough time nurturing your relationship with your customers by educating them on the proper care and maintenance of their new countertop. Providing information about care and long-term maintenance is an essential function of your marketing and customer service communications. It will help stave off negative customer reviews and, more likely, reduce overhead costs by reducing the time spent on avoidable repairs or remakes.
There are several ways to communicate your care and maintenance recommendations to your customers. Whether it’s in a printed brochure, an email campaign, a landing page or blog content on your website, or — for the more tech-savvy — a text message campaign, teaching your customers how to care for and maintain their newly installed surface can be easy and pain-free. It’s about regularly producing and distributing content that’s relevant to your audience to establish expertise, promote brand awareness and covert for fewer complaints and repairs, and support new customers.
Here are some examples of how some in the stone and quartz countertop industry use care and maintenance as a sales, marketing and customer service tool:
- Start at the beginning. By including care and maintenance during the sales process, you’re quickly establishing both the relationship with the customer and demonstrating your expertise, further building confidence that they should do business with you – someone who’s not only a pro at installing counters but who also takes the time to help customers protect their investment.
- Create a leave-behind material at installation. A brochure would include reminders and tips on care and maintenance and recommended care product samples like cleaners and sealers. You can take this further by creating a branded cutting board made from remnant material. Affix a label on the backside with your company logo, contact information and some care tips.
- Roll out a care and maintenance email campaign. Following installation, customers get reminders and other content — a weekly series of tips — that touch on preventing common damages to stone and quartz countertops. Include recommendations on approved household cleaners and standard disinfectants, what products to avoid, and how to prevent chips, scratches, stains and cracks.
- Write up some blog content focused on solutions. Your future customers are online searching for answers to problems, and people are typically looking for help with removing stains and other discolorations, water spots, etches, scratches and cracks. With blog content tied to research-based search engine optimization, these future customers see you as an authority on installation, care and maintenance. It’ll create trust and engagement around your brand.
- Rework your website. Blog content should live on a dedicated landing page on your website, regularly attracting new traffic — potential customers — with weekly posts and paid media such as Google Ads. Make sure these pages are easy to find and create backlinks to other relevant pages on your site and even material manufacturer sites.
- Leverage social media platforms. Further, reach your audience and establish authority within how-to and prevention content by creating posts that drive back to your blog. Use relevant images or videos that include damaged countertops and tease tips on prevention to videos on protecting countertops.
- Create downloadable materials for your website. People are attracted to visuals, and most customers love how-to graphics, photos, listicles and the like. Hosted on your website, you can offer your customers step-by-step guides on cleaning, sealing, polishing and preventing the most common damages. Be sure and brand it and include your contact information because you never know how it will travel. Customers can print it, hang it on the refrigerator, email it to a friend or hand it to a neighbor.
- Keep in touch. Create a bi-weekly or monthly e-newsletter that includes care and maintenance guidelines using your blog or social media content. You can also use this to drive awareness about new services and materials while reminding your readers about what you have to offer.
Now back to the customer with the cracked countertop. If they had been armed with the dos and don’ts, you could have minimized the chance of costly mishaps and a negative experience. The more proactive you are with nurturing customer relationships and positioning yourself as an authority, the more likely they will recommend your business to others. By building a strategy around care and maintenance, you’re building awareness around your brand, creating trust with your audience, elevating your business as an expert source for excellent, comprehensive service, increasing traffic to your website and business, and ultimately, attracting more customers.
Frank is a third-generation stone fabricator with more than 20 years’ experience in the stone industry. Currently, Frank is a managing partner of Quote Countertops and president of Granite Gold Services, Inc. He regularly advises fabricators and marketing companies across the nation to help drive more sales through digital marketing strategy and technology.