Know Thy Customer


In the fast-paced world of disaster restoration, we often find ourselves caught up in the whirlwind of operations and logistics, focusing primarily on the ‘how’ and ‘when’ of service delivery. However, it’s crucial to pause and consider the ‘who’ we are serving – our customers. Understanding your customer is not just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have for any successful business in our industry. It’s about digging deep, really getting to know them, and tailor-fitting our approach to meet their unique needs.

Let’s face it, in our field, we deal with people at some of the most challenging moments of their lives. Homes and businesses damaged, lives disrupted – these are the settings in which we operate. It’s not just about fixing a problem; it’s about understanding the people behind the problem. This means moving beyond the traditional sales pitches and generic service offerings to a more empathetic, customer-centric approach.

First and foremost, let’s talk about the art of listening. In a world where everyone’s in a rush to speak, the power of listening can’t be overstated. When engaging with a client, are we really hearing what they’re saying? Are we picking up on their concerns, their anxieties, and their needs? It’s not just about ticking boxes on a service list; it’s about tuning into the subtle cues that tell us what they really need from us. 

One critical aspect often overlooked is understanding the emotional journey of our customers. Imagine being in their shoes, with their property ravaged by disaster. They’re not just looking for someone to restore their property; they’re looking for someone to restore their peace of mind. It’s an emotional transaction as much as it is a physical one. By acknowledging this, we can transform our service from a mere transaction to a meaningful interaction.

Now, let’s delve into the realm of customization. Each client, each situation, is unique. The one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t cut it in our industry. Tailoring our services to the specific needs of each client not only enhances customer satisfaction but also builds lasting relationships. It’s about being flexible and adaptable, showing that we’re not just service providers but problem solvers.

Additionally, the importance of feedback in shaping customer experience cannot be overstated. Are we actively seeking out what our clients think of our services? Do we adapt based on their input? Constructive feedback is the cornerstone of improvement. It’s about creating a dialogue, a two-way street where communication flows freely, allowing us to fine-tune our services and approach.

Moving on, let’s talk about the sales process in our industry. Often, we get so caught up in the technicalities and logistics that we forget the human element. Sales in disaster restoration isn’t just about closing deals; it’s about building trust. Our clients are not just buying a service; they’re entrusting us with their property, their memories, and in many cases, their livelihoods. This trust is built through genuine interactions, understanding their specific situation, and offering solutions that resonate with their needs.

In the midst of all this, let’s not forget about our teams. Our employees are the frontliners in delivering the customer experience. How well are they equipped to understand and empathize with the clients? Training in technical skills is vital, but so is training in soft skills – communication, empathy, problem-solving. These are the skills that truly make a difference in how our clients perceive our service.

As we reflect on these aspects, let’s also ponder upon the concept of resilience, both in our teams and our clients. In an industry as demanding as ours, resilience is key. It’s about bouncing back stronger, both from a business perspective and in helping our clients recover from their losses. Promoting a culture of resilience within our teams not only prepares them to handle challenging situations but also translates into better service for our clients.

Furthermore, it’s important to recognize the role of technology in enhancing customer experience. Are we utilizing the latest tools and software to streamline our processes, make communication more efficient, and provide real-time updates to our clients? Embracing technology not only improves operational efficiency but also adds to the overall customer experience.

Lastly, let’s touch upon the idea of sustainable relationships. In our industry, repeat business might not be as common as in others, but the impact of word-of-mouth referrals is immense. By creating memorable, positive experiences, we turn our clients into advocates for our business. It’s about creating a legacy of trust and excellence that speaks volumes through the experiences of those we’ve served.

In conclusion, understanding our customers goes beyond knowing their immediate needs. It’s about comprehending their emotional state, their expectations, and their perception of value. In the disaster restoration industry, where every situation is as unique as the individuals involved, a deep understanding of our customers is not just beneficial; it’s essential. By adopting a more customer-centric approach, we not only enhance our service delivery but also solidify our place as trusted, empathetic experts in a field where humanity and expertise must go hand in hand. Remember, in the end, it’s not just about restoring properties; it’s about restoring lives. Let’s not just do our job; let’s understand the people we’re doing it for.

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Chris Nordyke

Chris began his business career in direct sales, selling Cutco Knives for Vector Marketing at age 19 while going to school. He was a personal sales leader, and subsequently a Top 20 branch office manager in Los Angeles, directly responsible for all recruiting, training, team development and revenue across a team of more than 40 sales reps.

Vector proved to be a foundational training ground in entrepreneurship, team-building, and sales leadership that Chris continues to draw on in his work with restoration teams. 

Chris’s primary B2B sales training came during his tenure as a Contract Sales Rep for Cintas Corporation, a Fortune 500 laundry services firm. Here, Chris was introduced to Requirements Based Selling (RBS) which informed the Pain-Solution selling model Chris continues to use today with clients. 

Prior to joining Summit Cleaning and Restoration in 2014, Chris spent 8 years with State Farm Companies, 5 of which he spent owning and running a successful agency. 

From 2014 to late 2019, Chris served on Summit’s leadership team overseeing all business development and marketing with a special emphasis on developing Summit’s customer experience and service culture. He’s a founder and Co-host of the Head Heart & Boots podcast, co-founder of the Floodlight Consulting Group, and co-founder of the Floodlight Leadership Circles. Chris resides in the beautiful state of Oregon with his wife of 20 years, Cara, and their 3 children- Lily, Jack and Simon.

Email Chris at:

Listen to the Head Heart and Boots Podcast on Apple iTunes and Spotify.

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