Women Love Customer Service

“We Love Our Customer’s” should be every business owner’s slogan.   Remember without customers no one can stay in business, so why do so many companies treat their customers, as if they had a million more where that came from?  Customer service is a continual loop and should never stop.

I hired a roofing company where the salesman was all smiles while we were in the bidding process, but as soon as I signed the contract and gave him a deposit, the customer service stopped.  He never called me again, even though he promised to call me back to advise when they would start my project.  He only reacted when I threatened to cancel my contract and get my money back.  Remember, Women get more annoyed than men with aspects of bad customer service.

I share this story only to get the point across that for women, Customer Service is the most important reason women buy from you, call you back and refer you to all their friends or co-workers.   This roofing company did a great roofing job after three weeks of prodding, but do you think I will refer them? Probably not!!!   Remember to “Walk the talk” service starts with the first few seconds of the first contact.  When it comes to certain aspects of customer service women get frustrated at higher percentages than men, whether it’s over the phone or in person.

For a lasting good impression.  Remember to greet your customers warmly.  Start phone contacts with:  “ABC Painting  Company, How may I help you?” and end with “Thank you for calling ?” .  Tell them your name so the interaction remains friendly.   Remember we all take our business where we feel welcomed and appreciated

Smile every time you greet customers even when you answer the phone.  Sounding positive and upbeat over the phone is the same as a smile in person.  Do not leave any female client on hold longer than one minute without reconnecting.   If you have to call them back, then do so right away.  Give the female client or a prospective client a 100% of your attention.  Do paperwork and your e-mails on your time rather than hers.

Develop a habit of looking each customer in the eye during any face-to-face conversations.  Maintaining eye contact helps you focus on what the customer is saying especially when talking to a woman.  It shows them you’re interested in what they have to say.  Practice this with a friend if you are not comfortable with eye contact because it is so important in making a sale with most women.

When meeting in person, if a woman introduces herself using her first name, then remember it and use it during the sales process.  Make sure you pronounce it correctly and don’t be afraid to ask again if you don’t remember it.  Women don’t mind being asked, but they do mind when you pronounce it wrong.    The name Sally can be spelled a couple of ways.  Make a notation in your files if their name is a tough one.   Make sure your crew leader knows how to pronounce it also.  Remember – “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” -Dale Carnegie

Talk less listen more.  Remember their needs are your most important concern and if you aren’t a good listener you may not hear what they want.  Men tend to think women ramble on, but the message is there, if you are really listening for it.   Pay attention to body language and watch for specific tones and stance.  Watch out for things that disturb you about a client and adjust your attitude accordingly.

Don’t be a robot.  Personalize your delivery by putting in a little of yourself into it.  Always read back important details and/or information to make sure you wrote it down correctly.  If you make a mistake admit it, fix it, and move on.  Woman clients don’t expect you to be perfect, but they do expect you to be honest, so make it right for them.  Keep your promises because if you fail to deliver they will remember.  Never tell a client what you can’t do unless you follow it up with what you can do for them.  Stay away from making excuses or over explaining.   If you don’t know the answer, say so.  Eliminate the negatives and remember, woman clients don’t like last minute surprises so tell them immediately, if there are delays.  You usually can’t communicate enough with women.   Men tend to assume way too much and this will irritate and frustrate a woman client.  Keep her informed on a regular basis.

Give every customer your very best service, be on time, on task and remember they may not always be right, but they are paying for the right to be treated fairly.  Finally, always thank the customer for their business.  Tell them how much you appreciate that they chose your company and that you stand behind your work.  Make sure you invite them back, “Please give us a call again.”  You will be amazed on how many will say, “I will” and then do.

If a women client is upset or angry, don’t talk or interrupt, don’t be defensive and always allow her the time to vent.   Make sure you quickly apologize for the misunderstanding and ask what she would like done to correct the problem.  Women want to be involved in the solution, so let them help.

Please don’t overwhelm women with jargon and always assume she does understand until she tells you otherwise.  Remember 90% of all home improvement decisions are made by women so by following these basic customer service guidelines you can turn all your female clients into raving fans.

Treat customers as if you were the customer!!”   Joel Marks

By Darylene Dennon, Solid Energy, Inc,    —–    Printed in the Spring 2012 Issue of American Painting Contractor Magazine for Professional Women in Painting Forum of the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA)


“Hiring the Right Painting Contractor!”

It always amazes me that a consumer goes through all the trouble to decide to finally paint their interior or exterior of their house or business and then take short cuts.  They spend some time to put a budget together deciding on how much they want to spend.  They resource contractors and find three professional painting contractors and set up  appointments with each of them.  They get the three quotes, then finally have to decide on one of the three.    This can take a couple of weeks or more and then they decide to cut corners when finally hiring the painting contractor.

The decision is generally made on three things, the cheapest price, customer service with perceived value reflected in the price or customer service with perceived value reflected in the price along with a perception of quality performance.  Each bid represents what a client will receive and not necessarily complete satisfaction as an end result.  

If the cheapest price is what you want, then you don’t have to waste much time when looking for a painting contractor.  You can find them in the Classified ads in the newspaper, a sign posted on a tree or on Manta a free directory, since they won’t have a website to review.   They may or may not be licensed, bonded and insured to protect you and your property.  Remember to be cheap they have to cut corners somewhere.  Customer service and a quality job is usually one thing these contractors usually cut out or they don’t run a legitimate business.   Remember what you get when it comes too cheap?  Prepare to get exactly what you didn’t pay for, a professional painting company.   This is neither bad or good.  It is ultimately your choice, beware with this choice.

Hiring a painting contractor isn’t easy, but doing your homework, doing research through the internet, checking out their website and asking lots of questions at the time of the appointment, checking to see if they know what they are talking about.  Find out how they give back to the community and what associations they belong to.  These painting contractors aren’t usually expensive, but you will never find them cheap.  They pride themselves with their work and they love their customers.  They guarantee their work and you will be satisfied with the end result.    Hire the right painting contractor not just the one with the cheapest price. 

By Darylene Dennon, Solid Energy, Inc., a Professional Painting Contractor.  

“Sustainable vs Green”

Let’s talk about the differences between “Sustainable and Green”.  Both are buzzwords used these days.  Both have been used on many occasions interchangeably, yet mean different things.  If it is  “Green” is it “Sustainable”?

In ecology the word sustainable describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time.  For humans it is the potential for long-term maintenance of wellbeing, which in turn depends on the well being of the natural world and the responsible use of natural resources.

Sustainability includes three elements, environmental responsibility, social responsibility and financial responsibility.  Sustainability takes into account the realities of our economy and our society.  In other words, it means that organizations or individuals should operate in a financially sound framework, but also be socially and financially responsible in their activities and operations.

But what does “green” actually mean?  It means environmentally friendly and places less burden on our declining resources.  It should reduce the carbon footprint by releasing fewer toxins or consume less energy.  Green is better and is a wiser choice for a better tomorrow.

The “Green” movement is consistently abusing the issues related to true sustainability.  The word ‘Green’ is being routinely used to such an extent that it is almost a justification. If we are to let this Green movement carry on like this, the issues related to true sustainability will be lost behind.
A “Green” product is like a durable finish on your floor that has a high VOC content.  It’s green in the way it’s used because you don’t have to refinish or strip it as often, but it’s definitely not made in a sustainable way because the volatile organic compounds can contribute to pollution.

If you really want to live more eco-friendly and know the difference between green and sustainable then you will need to do your homework, not just on the product or its components, but on how the company makes it.  Make sure you understand exactly the difference between environmental marketing claims which are created to get you to buy the product.  Make those companies provide you with certifications to back their environmental sustainable or green claims.

I admit it is challenging to find a product that meets your needs and is both green and sustainable.   This means you will have to make a decision and choose something that’s not sustainably produced, but can have a very green application or at least be eco-friendly.

An example: 100% recycled paper towels.  While creating the paper towels from recycled materials would be considered an eco-friendly option, paper towels are in no way green. They are just another product designed for convenience to be thrown in the trash. The ambiguous marketing is intentional to make consumers to believe they are purchasing a product with greater eco-friendly benefits, when in fact; nothing disposable is truly “green”. A green option would be, recycled fiber reusable towels.

Here’s another example: the wood your house is built with. Obviously wood is an eco-friendly product, but is it sustainable? Yes, if the company that cut the trees and made the boards doesn’t permanently deplete the forest. Wood is durable, but if it’s harvested in an environmentally irresponsible way, it’s not sustainable at all. Using reclaimed wood or FSC Controlled wood, is both “green” and “sustainable”.

For example if a product can be manufactured in an environmentally friendly manner, without costing more to produce and without negatively impacting the community (low wages for employees, for instance) it can be said that the item is truly sustainable.

I hope this article helped a bit in providing you with some insight to the differences between “Sustainable and Green”.

Now the next question to ask yourself, “What are you doing to  to support the environment.  I am hoping you are utilizing waterborne products when at all possible.   Using green products for clean up, removing mildew, using recycled shop rags, ask for low VOC paint, recycling thinner-etc.   Make sure you are up to date on all products that are sustainable and at least eco-friendly, if they are not green.   If we all do our part the world will be a better place to live in.

Darylene Dennon, Solid Energy, Inc.  Printed in the Summer 2011 Edition of  DECO Magazine


What Office Colors Say!!

What Color Says by Darylene Dennon   

Your mood and well-being is affected by your environment, and when you’re spending most of the day in your office, the colors you’re surrounded by on a daily basis may be affecting how you feel.

If you’re working on projects that require intense concentration and focus, you’ll need to be surrounded by non-stimulating, relaxing colors. If you need to be upbeat and energetic all day, you will be better off with strong, bold colors that raise your blood pressure and keep you feeling alert.

Here are just eight colors that work well for most office environments; these colors can enhance productivity and help create a semi-relaxing and comfortable ambiance:

1. Moss Green. Light green with a yellow or blue base is a refreshing but restful color that can add some warmth to your office and provide comfort if you’re working alone. It’s a soothing color that won’t make you sleepy; choose a medium green color or sage to stay in productive mode all day long.

2. Light Orange. Orange is an energizing color that evokes excitement, creativity and happiness. You’ll need to stick with a light orange palette to achieve the most benefits of this color, and it can be especially valuable for those who need to stay peppy and energetic throughout the day.

3. Beige or Off White. Beige or cream colored walls are a great neutral color for the office, and are easy to complement with furnishings and dcor. They’re simple and calm, and are great for office spaces of all sizes.

4. Gray. Gray may sound like a boring choice for your office space, but it’s a neutral color that can be enhanced with browns, black and white very easily. It’s one of the easiest colors to work with if you have a lot of colorful desk accessories, picture frames and other accents. And, it’s a soothing and calm color that won’t trigger any strong emotions.

5. Pale Blue. Pale blue has a very calming and soothing effect on the senses, and can help you stay focused and productive for long periods of time. Look for light blues such as eggshell or sky blue for your office walls, and accentuate it with navy, cream colored or dark blue dcor.

6. Light Brown. A light cocoa or chocolaty brown color can stir your senses and create an earthy, nature-inspired ambiance. This color also creates a feeling of being ‘grounded’, strong and resilient.

7. Magenta. If you’re working in the creative field, magenta can spark your creativity and keep you motivated. Magenta contains shades of purple, red and pink, and is a rich and powerful color that can enhance concentration and help you focus on creative projects for longer periods of time.

8. Olive. If you’re the studious type and need to concentrate for hours at a time, olive is a great color to support your energy level. This slightly dark and rich color is also a natural, earthy tone that can be complemented easily with black, brown and cocoa-colored decor.

Darylene Dennon, Solid Energy, Inc.        425-485-8210          www.solidenergyinc.com


“Networking Connection”


 Professional Women in Building, “Building Women” Summer 2011 Issue

The Networking Connection
By Darylene Dennon

Whether you are engaging face-to-face or networking online, you need a plan that connects all your networking practices. Don’t waste your precious time; create an efficient strategy that works for you.

The in-person approach

For example, let’s say I meet someone at a business networking event. (I always plan to meet at least three new contacts at an event.) I do a great job selling myself and my company. I also gather information about the other person and collect her business card.

With me so far? Now, back at the office, I enter the business card into my contacts database, and I invite my new contact to my social media networks. I also send her a “nice to meet you” email and ask her to attend another business event I plan to attend. Then I forward the invite, email a reminder later and call to confirm she plans to attend.

I think you have the idea. Create a basic plan before you go to an event and connect online via social media or your website/blog afterward. No matter where you make the contact, always follow up and continue the connection.

 Make your in-person appearance count

Women are great a working the room because they generally are more community-oriented and enjoy linking their thoughts, ideas and hearts with others. But women have been trained not to “toot their own horn” and are sometimes better at promoting others than themselves. Like it or not, you have to want to stand out above the rest and be remembered if you want to move up the corporate ladder or grow your business.

Men tend to be more driven by what is in it for them personally. It isn’t that men think less about community and family; they simply interact differently with the world. So understand the differences and make sure to promote yourself — in your own way.

The online approach
As another example, let’s say I find someone within my social media network online and want to make contact with him. I do some research to find out if he has a website and check out his contact page. I look for any indication that he encourages folks to get in touch. He has a LinkedIn icon on his website, so I decide to introduce myself on his profile page on LinkedIn by sending him a message.
I make sure my message is short, and I briefly explain why I want to connect. I keep it down to 50 words or less, and then I add, “If this is not of interest, feel no need to get back to me.” That’s all that’s needed, and I don’t expect an instant response, if any.
If he does respond with a positive comment, then we chat and I ask him if I can add him to my network. I focus on the relationship and keep the doors open for future communication.
I have made some great contacts this way and have later met them face to face by inviting them to events that I am attending.

Make social media work for you

If you aren’t networking online, you are missing out in more ways than you can imagine. Not only are your current customers interacting online, so are your competitors and potential clients and business connections. Social media is a great way to keep in touch, on target and aware of others who are in the same market.

One of the best things about online networking is being able to research what other people are doing. Keeping up with trends and being able to ask questions of experts from all around the world are great benefits of interacting in cyberspace.

To sum it up, my advice is to feel comfortable talking about yourself and your business and keep up with the connections you have made both in person and online. Happy networking!

Darylene Dennon is an owner of Solid Energy Inc., a residential painting company based in Woodinville, WA She also is a National Association of Home Builders,  Professional Women in Building,  Area 15 Trustee.