Nestled deep in the French Alps is a small little French town called Tignes. The town’s sole purpose is to cater to those crazy people who call attaching fiberglass planks to their feet and sliding down steep slopes covered in snow; FUN. From the multiple ski schools, to the abundance of après-ski watering holes, to the service professionals who are conveniently multi-lingual, Tignes truly delivers the FULL ski vacation experience. Why am I talking about a small town in France you might ask? Because you should run your home service business the way this town is run. With the customer in mind: at all times.
The customer is your end game, your bread winner, the reason, essentially, for your existence. You should run your company accordingly. Did you know that a dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience? (White House Office of Consumer Affairs). This can be detrimental to your business, especially with the existence of popular review sites such as Yahoo reviews, Angies List, Twitter, and more. Your dirty laundry will be aired for everyone to see before you even have a chance to respond and limit the potential damage. Your main business objective, particularly as a home service business, should be to provide the BEST customer service, all the time. What are some things that you can do to cater to your customer in your line of business? See the examples below and make sure they are implemented at your company:
- Listen. Don’t forget the power of just listening to a potential customer or current customer. By taking the time to really listen to what a customer needs, or wants, you eliminate misinterpretations, errors, and dissatisfaction with the outcome.
- Make your customers’ lives easier. Give them easy to access information through your website and social media networks. Respond in real time (don’t leave them waiting a day, or days for a call back), provide them with a customer portal, and offer options like making appointments through Facebook, emailed invoices, and more.
- Follow up. Ensure that your customers have received everything they were looking for, ask for feedback, and correct any mistakes by following up with the customer after you have provided service. Whether you do it through email or with a call (which is more personal), following up with your customers demonstrates that you care what they think, and can often lead to a good testimonial for your business.
Putting the customer first is often cited as one of a business’s core values however many businesses do not actually put this into practice. It’s common to hear phrases such as “Putting the customer first”, “We value our customers,”or “Our customers are our number one priority.” While these phrases are plentiful within service businesses, take a step back for a moment and ask yourself “how many of my customers actually feel valued?” Following the three steps above is a start to ensuring that your customers feel valued, and you maintain a happy, growing customer base.
The town of Tignes is an example of a customer –centric operation that really knows how to make their customers feel valued so that they return in the future and tell everyone about having such a great experience.
Can you say the same about your business?
Customer service is an integral part of business at any company, and good customer service can be the difference between a successful and failing company. Why is that? Because customers are the bread and butter of any business, and the way your company attends to your customers’ needs and demands determines their loyalty to your brand. Sometimes though, in any company, it is hard to cater to exactly what your customers want. When you start a home service company, or help to manage one, there is generally a specific vision in mind for how the company is going to be run, what services you are going to offer, and how you are going to appeal to your target market. However, you want to make sure that you are also considering what it is that customers want from YOU, other than the services you provide. Doing so will help you provide effective customer service so here are five things that customers want from their home service company.
- Knowledgeable staff: Home service customers want the people providing them with services to be experts in their field. After all, they are entrusting you and your staff with one of their most prized possessions; their home. If you are a cleaning company, ensure that your staff can communicate effectively with your clients, including a thorough knowledge of the products you use and what steps you take when cleaning to maximize health benefits. Provide a background of your company emphasizing your expertise.
- Friendly staff: Customers are also looking to have a good relationship with the people at your company, as well as trusting that your staff is well-informed and skilled. Customers want to interact with courteous, friendly, staff members. This shows that your company values the customer’s business and that your staff enjoys their jobs.
- Good value: This is where the price matters. Customers are looking to get what they paid for. They are looking for quality service for a low price. They look to have their expectations exceeded. However, price is only one component of the “value package.” Customers consider good value to be a combination of price, service, and experience. You may be a plumbing company that charges a little more an hour then your neighborhood competitor. However, if part of your service includes explaining everything you are going to do and providing an estimate before starting a home project, wiping the floors and cleaning the area when you are done, and then following up with the customer the next day to see how the repairs are, a customer will probably consider your services to be of good value.
- An online presence: In this day and age, customers want to be able to go online and find your company. They look for a clear, well thought-out website that visibly displays what services your company offers, contact information and third party validations (customer testimonials). They also look on sites such as Angie’s List or Yelp to verify the legitimacy and popular opinion of your company. An on-line presence gives a sense of authenticity, breadth, and business understanding.
- Timeliness: Being on time and reliable is one of the most important things to customers. Customers want to be able to count on their service providers to arrive when they scheduled to, or provide proper notification if that is not possible. Having scheduling, billing, and contact management software will help keep you and your staff to stay on top of appointments, helping you present yourself as an accountable company to your customers.
How can you keep up with what your customers really want? Listening to your customers is important, as is keeping up with the latest news, trends, and developments in your specific industry, and in the overall customer service industry as well. Giving your customers what they really want will, in turn, give you what YOU really want; a successful home service business.