Secret Shopper July/August 2019July 15th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs
Eye on the Ball: When it Comes to Online Submissions, No Click Should Go Unanswered
Some “secret” shopping experiences begin with online submission forms. If your website has such a system, it pays to ensure those requests don’t go unnoticed or end up in an electronic abyss. It also pays to keep the ball rolling after initial contact.
Those are the key takeaways from Bryan Hovey’s experience. Hovey is web developer for [DWM]’s parent company, Key Media & Research, so when it came time to have his doors replaced, he naturally turned to the Internet. After hearing the same radio ads day-in and day-out along his commute, Hovey decided to visit the websites of two local companies, where he filled out their online submission forms for free estimates.
Timing is Everything
“It’s one of those things that, if I didn’t go ahead and do it, I knew I never would,” he says. About a year prior, the same idea slipped away from him, he says, when another company failed at first to respond to his requests, then pulled a no-show for the initial sales appointment. That experience was followed by “serious sticker shock,” Hovey says, when they delivered a quote that would have afforded him a new Mercedes. On the contrary, when he reached out to Fredericksburg, Va.-based S&K Remodeling, one of the owners, Stephen Bowen, called him immediately to schedule an appointment. The very next day Kyle Setliff, production coordinator, came out to take measurements.
The second company never even responded to his online submission.
When Hovey inquired about financing, Setliff explained that while S&K is independently owned, the company also serves as a subcontractor to Lowe’s. By referring his project to the big-box retailer, Hovey would have access to financing, while S&K could still serve as the contractor. Two days later, a representative from Lowe’s came out to discuss payment plans and to go over product specifications. When they delivered an on-the-spot estimate, Hovey says he reviewed it—this time without any sticker shock—and signed immediately.
After watching his home’s exterior slowly but surely become outdated, it was time, he says. A week after signing the paperwork, S&K’s installation crew removed his front door, only to unbox the new Pella six-panel door and discover that it was incorrectly configured (it had the wrong swing). “They immediately drove back to Lowe’s and retrieved the correct door, then came right back and installed it,” he says. The right door was installed within just a couple of hours and the company moved on to siding.
Follow-Through is Bliss
Hovey says he had no specific products in mind, but he did go into the experience with a punch-list. After experiencing a break-in, he was looking for a reputable brand with good, quality hardware. Other new features include a storm door that the company upsold with a twist operator that allows you to transition from glass to screen quickly and easily. “I just love it,” he says. And while his old doors had blinds between glass that tilted, his new sliders add the ability to also raise and lower the full length of the glass. “I just slide the little handle up and down and can set it exactly how I want it,” he says.
But of all the features S&K delivered, he says the most important might just be a swift response to his online submission and a sales process that didn’t allow for procrastination.
“Not only did it give me confidence, but it made me feel like they really wanted my business,” he says.
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