May 16, 2020

Building better customer relations one project at a time

customer service
Leadership
Referral
Business
Admin
3 min
Customer service is key in any industry, even construction
Customer service is an important aspect of just about every industry on the planet and the construction industry is no exception.

Both residential and...

Customer service is an important aspect of just about every industry on the planet and the construction industry is no exception.

Both residential and commercial construction companies are doing all they can to make their clients and customers happy.

RELATED TOPIC: Construction sector recruiter first to join Institute of Customer Service

Customer service in construction

With the popularity of online review sites and social media, businesses of all kinds have to make sure their customers are satisfied. One bad review or unhappy customer could result in negative online press, which is never good for business.

That's why construction companies are putting more focus in customer satisfaction initiatives.

In fact, a growing number of construction companies across the globe are putting their customers first by following the five keys to satisfaction: coordination, resolution, empathy, attentiveness, and timeliness.

RELATED TOPIC: Engaging with customers on social media: Top tips for construction companies

By coordinating with customers, resolving issues quickly, empathizing with clients, attending to the customers' needs, and responding to questions in a timely manner, construction companies and independent contractors are improving their customer satisfaction and outreach efforts.

Building relationships

With the right customer service plan in place, construction companies are able to build long lasting relationships with their customers and clients.

There's a lot of competition in the construction world, which is why customer relationships are so important to construction businesses.

The article Thought leader series: How important is customer service in building construction? mentions the importance of customer loyalty.

By keeping an open line of communication with customers and catering to their wants and needs, construction companies can build stronger relationships that pave the way to customer loyalty.

RELATED TOPIC: Kaplan Construction ties professionalism with personality to provide exceptional results to satisfied and loyal clients

Increasing referrals

Customer referrals are a large part of any construction company's success rate, especially when it comes to residential construction.

When contractors and companies make it their goal to provide unparalleled customer service, it encourages current customers to share their experience with others.

Whether it's a homeowner who recommends a construction company to a friend or a commercial client who spreads the word about the great service they received, quality customer service can lead to increased referrals and repeat customers.

RELATED TOPIC: The importance of customer service in construction

Likewise, through referrals and excellent reviews, construction companies can begin to build a great reputation with little to no marketing. A superb reputation is an essential part of running a construction or contracting business.

Great customer service is contagious

No construction company is a one-man army. In fact, contractors and companies alike typically have dozens of workers and sub-contractors working with them.

When construction business owners go out of their way to satisfy customers; the customer service attitude trickles down to other workers as well.

Foreman and head contractors can't be at every job all the time.

RELATED TOPIC: Building to last: 4 reasons why construction firms should embrace sustainability

By encouraging positive customer service attitudes company-wide, construction companies can ensure each customer experiences the same service standards no matter which individuals they are working with.

From general contractors to large-scale commercial construction companies, the construction industry is building a strong customer service foundation.

 

About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including construction and customer satisfaction.

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Click here to read the October 2015 edition of Construction Global magazine!

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Jun 17, 2021

Why engineers must always consider human-induced vibration

Vibrations
Engineering
design
Structuralintegrity
Dominic Ellis
3 min
Human-induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users

Human induced vibration, or more accurately vibrations caused by human footfall, often conjures images of Millennium Bridge-style swaying or collapsing buildings.

But in reality, the ‘damage’ caused by human-induced vibrations is less likely to ruin a structure and more likely to cause discomfort in people. Though not as dramatic as a structural failure, any good engineer wants to make sure the people using their structures, be it bridges or buildings or anything in between, can do so safely and comfortably. This is why human-induced vibration must be considered within the design process.

Resonance v Impulse

There are two ways that human-induced vibrations affect structures: resonant, and impulse or transient response. Put simply, resonance occurs when Object A vibrates at the same natural frequency as Object B.

Object B resonates and begins to vibrate too. Think singing to break a wine glass! Although the person singing isn’t touching the glass, the vibrations of their voice are resonating with the glass’s natural frequency, causing this vibration to get stronger and stronger and eventually, break the glass. In the case of a structure, resonance occurs when the pedestrian’s feet land in time with the vibration.

On the other hand, impulse or transient vibration responses can be a problem on structures where its natural frequencies are too high for resonance to occur, such as where the structure is light or stiff. Here the discomfort is caused by the initial “bounce” of the structure caused by the footstep and is a concern on light or stiff structures.

Engineers must, of course, design to reduce the vibration effects caused by either impulse or resonance.

Potential impacts from human induced vibration

Human induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users. These include:

  • Interfering with sensitive equipment Depending on the building’s purpose, what it houses can be affected by the vibrations of people using the building. Universities and laboratories, for example, may have sensitive equipment whose accuracy and performance could be damaged by vibrations. Even in ordinary offices the footfall vibration can wobble computer screens, upsetting the workers.
     
  • Swaying bridges One of the most famous examples of human-induced resonance impacting a structure occurred with the Millennium Bridge. As people walked across the bridge, the footsteps caused the bridge to sway, and everybody had to walk in time with the sway because it was difficult not to. Thankfully, this feedback can only occur with horizontal vibrations so building floors are safe from it, but footbridges need careful checking to prevent it.
     
  • Human discomfort According to research, vibrations in buildings and structures can cause depression and even motion sickness in inhabitants. Tall buildings sway in the wind and footsteps can be felt, even subconsciously by the occupants. It has been argued that modern efficient designs featuring thinner floor slabs and wider spacing in column design mean that these new builds are not as effective at dampening vibrations as older buildings are.
     
  • Jeopardising structural integrity The build-up of constant vibrations on a structure can, eventually, lead to structural integrity being compromised. A worse-case scenario would be the complete collapse of the structure and is the reason some bridges insist that marching troops break step before crossing. Crowds jumping in time to music or in response to a goal in a stadium are also dynamic loads that might damage an under-designed structure.

How to avoid it

As mentioned, modern designs that favour thinner slabs and wider column spacing are particularly susceptible to all forms of vibration, human-induced or otherwise, but short spans can also suffer due to their low mass. Using sophisticated structural engineering software is an effective method for engineers to test for and mitigate footfall and other vibrations at the design stage.

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