For once I can actually post a blog from the standpoint of an expert. I am usually just an observer and can seldom claim any real expertise. Suppose being older and having been through a thing or two helps, but my opinions are usually just that: opinions.

Not this time. This time I am an expert. I claim something in common with all of your customers: I am one. I may not be your customer, but I am a customer. I have been a customer for over 50 years. I have been making money that long and I have been spending it. And I spend a lot of it as a customer.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let me give you the point of this rant. This week I had two customer service experiences that have left me as, in one case, a less-than-pleased customer, and in another case, a customer who is writing to complain about said customer service experience.

In today’s world of lightning fast communications in which many customers are adept at spreading the word about you (including unkind words), the cost of preventing bad customer service experiences carries more value than ever.

Customer service experience No. 1: I live in a townhome so exterior repairs and maintenance are performed in common by the management company under the direction of the HOA board. Recently the board approved painting the exterior which included pressure washing patios and decks. The decks were to have any bad wood replaced and then would be stained. Mine was done this week.

The job was generally acceptable and the place looks great. But the things I will remember the most about the job is the things the contractor did not do. They failed to catch a bad board on my deck — a 4-foot long piece of treated 2x6. Not a big deal and I am certain it would have been an extra, so I cannot think of but two reasons they did not make the repair. Either they are incompetent or they do not care. I suppose there could have been other reasons, like poor communications to the field or something. But I choose the other two, and since I am the customer, I get to choose.

The other thing I will remember is having to pick up pieces of the old caulking they removed. Made me glad to see they were doing a good job of pointing up the old joints, but got tired of doing their clean-up job. They failed to clean one of four windows that were messed up when they pressure washed the deck. None of these things would have cost a lot of money. I think cleaning up is simply not a “focus item” for the contractor.

Customer service experience No. 2: The contractor for the electric company swung by our shop to clear some Southern Yellow Pine branches from the power lines that run in front of the office. Did the cutting and came back to grind it up a few days later. I did not mind the wait, as I knew they would be back. I did mind the crappy job of cleaning up they did. There were all kinds of clippings left all over where the chipper was parked. They left a hundred (not an exaggeration) pine cones strewn about. We take good care of our exterior and this flew all over me.

So for contractor number one, if I ever have the chance to not recommend him I will take it. I will not go out of my way to complain about him or tell my friends and associates to avoid him. For the jackasses that left all their pine trimmings on our nice yard, I am complaining to the company that hired them. I am their customer, and in spite of the fact that they have something of a monopoly (it is the electric company), they do pay attention to their customers.

It has long been understood by most roofing contractors that cleaning up is, on some projects, more important than the kind of roof you put on. I am convinced that in the case of residential work, if you put on a roof that looks good and leave the place cleaner than when you started, you will earn rave reviews every time. The roof you put on may not be technically correct, but you will get great reviews from your customers based on what they see, not what they know.

 This is certainly old news but worth repeating. Make sure your troops understand it, which means you must preach it repeatedly. While mainly a residential issue, the really wise commercial roofing contractors realize this applies to them as well.