A note on Customer Service
I posted this on TGS but since this is a different crowd I will put this here as well.
There is an old adage that goes
Give a thirsy man a drink of water and you will have made his day. Show that man a well and he will keep coming back for more.
Fine rigs, professional service and quality work can contribute to a happy customer. But like all positive experiences in life the contentment can be fleeting. I find it ridiculous how many bad contractors are out there (in the real world). I cannot believe how many half finished projects I run into out in the field. This of course starts many of us in a hole because the disenchanted customer has no reason to believe we will be any different from the last guy. It's reasonable for the customer to expect a decent job performed on time and on budget. But is this enough to sustain a customer for life? Probably not.
One question I continually ask myself is if I am providing the utmost in customer experience. Not only that am I consistent in delivering follow through and customer contact?
This is my opinion and as egotistical as it may sound I will beat anyone on customer service. I have spent 20 minutes on long distance calls with customers whom haven't purchased a thing from me. I will lose money overnighting a package that was damaged. If I can't do that I will refund a customer 20% if they had to wait for something on my end that caused them inconvenience. I'm sorry, there is no question asked. Nor should there be any rants or hard feelings on my part. Customers get bad service or attitudes from OTHER companies. They do not get it from me.
The Rule of 20/80
Anyone that owns a business has probably heard of this ratio. For those that haven't it goes.. Twenty percent of your customers will provide 80% of your business. Ask yourself.. Am I capitalizing on this rule? Here are some thoughts I have that may help you.
• Follow up after the check
- You're fairly certain you performed quality work. After all, the customer didn't stop the check and you didn't get a call back right? You should really follow up a bit more than just assuming everything is okay. Call the customer. Maybe you missed one side of a spindle and the customer just didn't want to bother you with such a small detail. Apologize and get out there and rectify it. Meet with the homeowner again and fortify your guarantee of outstanding customer service.
- Now that you are certain the job was done to the customer's satisfaction, send out a "How Did We Do?" questionnaire. Provide an SASE so they can return it to you. It is absolutely vital to track your performance and constantly improve your service. Maybe the customer thought your service and follow up were excellent but they really didn't like the sealer color you applied. I have started offering a 10% coupon to anyone whom returns a questionnaire. It works.
• Keep your name in front of them.
- A newsletter is your best source of ongoing marketing. make the customer feel a part of your organization. Let them know whats going on. Introduce a new employee.. Tell them about the new VOC compliance laws in your state.. Inform them of other services you offer. "Wow I didn't know PressurePros offered decorative concrete overlay" (I don't..just an example)
• Long term scheduling and commitment. If you can schedule them for next years maintenance cleaning at the time of job completion, do it. We have 85 maintenance cleanings scheduled for Spring '07. Of course some will drop out or reschedule but not a bad way to start off a season without having to spend a dime on new customer marketing.
• Spend your time productively. Are you a woodie that uses a moisture sensitive sealer? Did it rain the morning you planned to work? Go visit some customers. See how your sealers are holding up. I made a little "rainy day visit" flyer myself. Its no KBK but its cute and it lets the customer know I was there and I am following through on my commitment to their property maintenance. It also gives me a chance to plant selling seeds. "Hello Mrs G, I was here checking on your deck and noticed your pavers are a little green again. On our next deck maintenance we should probably get some type of sealer on them". I make a note in the customers file and now a $200 maintenance deck cleaning becomes a $400 job. On the same note if the customer calls me and is worried she should not wait to have th sealer applied I wave my minimum charge and we fit the job in immediately.
I am old school. I believe customer service above all else. Period. There are too many Ken's, Curves, PressurePros, etc etc out there to choose from. Once I get a customer, I want them for life. That doesn't happen because I pull up a rig the length of the the QEII or because my rig flows 10 gpm (neither of which is true of my equipment)
Read the above and let me know how you would react to a company that gave you this level of service. Would you respond to a company that offered to perform the work for less money? Would you take the chance?
I have seen a recent Merry Maids advertising blitz. Their byline?
Relax, its done.
That rocks. Give your customers peace of mind and they will stay loyal.