QualityPro accredited companies are encouraged to find the best practices necessary to standardize their customer experiences and expectations. What’s working for them? Here are a few approaches to customer service that have helped our accredited companies raise the bar.
AMERICAN PEST SOLUTIONS
Having served D.C., Maryland and Virginia since 1925, American Pest has learned a thing or two about satisfying customer expectations. They attribute their longevity and success to providing quality solutions and maintaining open communication with customers.
The first thing visitors to their website see is the high number of customer reviews. “Our customers are our best marketers,” says Marketing Director Hayley Damron, “and they have a story to tell.” In 2018, American Pest began using software to automatically solicit feedback from customers serviced within three days. “This not only provides us with insight on how customers felt about their service, but also their technicians” Damron continues, noting that their software allows them to parse data based on keywords that are common in positive and negative words. Tracking customer Net Promoter Scores (NPS—a measure of how likely a customer is to recommend a service to others) in this way allows American to make informed company decisions by giving customers a common voice.
In cases of negative feedback, American Pest’s Escalation Manager will step in and reach out to the customer for more information to then be used for improving service and customer experience. “Sometimes customers just need their concerns to be heard,” says Damron, “We do our best to right any wrongs as we take pride in our pest professionals and want to ensure that we provide the best service we can.”
Something unique to their operations is the concept of the “Dang Card.” The “Dang Card” is a branded apology card requested by the customer service team as a response to being informed of a mistake. The card is sent to the customer’s house, along with a small gift card, and making clear the steps American will take to make sure the same mistake doesn’t happen again. “Not many companies send you a handwritten note apologizing about a mistake.”
Staying on the theme of emphasizing customer responsiveness, Pest Rangers’ President Jeff King emphasizes how available they make themselves to customers. “We always have somebody that answers the phone,” King says, “if they called 7:00 at night, the offices close and we have somebody who is dedicated to returning those calls.” The perception of availability and willingness to help is a major selling point for Pest Rangers’ customers, who benefit from personal attention and consistency from technicians. “We always tell our guys that pest control is part of the service, but being able to communicate with the customer is number one,” King explains, going on to say that residential appointments are given in hour-long blocks to accommodate a complete service experience.
“It’s very easy to fire the company,” King says, explaining the philosophy at work here, “but it’s hard for a customer to fire the technician.” Pest Rangers’ employees are encouraged to develop relationships with their customers. “We tell our guys, ‘bring those garbage cans to the garage door’, ‘if the newspaper’s on the porch, bend over to pick it up give it to the customer’,” King says. “It’s part of the service.”
Working at things from a different angle, Sprague Pest serves a portfolio of exclusively commercial customers. Some might see commercial customers as monolithic and removed from the person-to-person level of interaction, but Vice President of Operations Ross Treleven is quick to put that idea aside. “We have a different relationship” Treleven says, “we spend a lot of days working with them, walking their plants and living their lives…we’re there every single week. We see them so often that I think the relationship ends up being stronger.”
Every customer is given access to online reporting, helping both Sprague and the customer stay on the same page as far as expectations and performance—the focus being on transparency of information and ease of access. To put it in Director of Sales and Marketing Ericka Pitman’s words, “the one-stop shop for everything they could ever want to know about their account.”
With the scale of their operations, Sprague Pest has built a robust quality assurance infrastructure, including designated full-time Quality Assurance and Account Management teams that directly interface with customers in order to address concerns and collect feedback.
We encourage each company to find the best practices for their businesses—ones that can be consistently applied and delivered with quality. Clear and enthusiastic communication with the customer is the cornerstone of good customer service. Willingness to listen to, acknowledge and correct when mistakes are made can not only save an existing relationship but might go some way toward building new ones. Above all, being willing to go the extra mile, to consistently perform quality service and to discover unstated customer needs and offer to fill them, will help set your business apart and provide value for current and future customers.