Want your company to stand out from the rest? Ensure customer service is part of the foundation of every role in your company. In a service industry like ours, the only thing that matters is that we’ve made our customer’s life easier. As we remind all QualityPro technicians in the first chapter of the training manual, two-thirds of customers who quit doing business with a company do so because of an attitude of indifference from a company representative. Every employee is at the front lines, actively determining whether customers will continue or quit doing business with your company. A QualityPro, we help set companies apart. In addition to HR support, we give companies the tools necessary to give their customers the best experience possible. We sat down recently with Garrett Thrasher, vice president and general manager of Thrasher Termite & Pest Control of So Cal, Inc., to discuss how QualityPro accreditation influenced their customer service program.
BUILD CUSTOMER SERVICE FROM THE INSIDE OUT
“There is a direct line between a well-run company and satisfied customers,” Garrett said, “There is even a stronger connection between a well-managed workforce and customers who become advocates for your business.”
The first thing Garrett impressed upon us was the role that a systematic, consistent approach to every aspect of business operations had on positive customer service outcomes. “Chaos in the office breeds chaos in the field,” said Garrett. Ensuring business operations follow best-practices and that all processes are documented, including how to escalate customer issues, the Thrasher team has the stability to get things right even in the hectic world of pest control.
The other essential of customer service is spending as much focus on “people operations as on business operations.” Thrasher’s explicit philosophy is that customer service starts with how management treats employees. Staff who are treated with dignity, respect and an attitude of seeking solutions take that same energy and direct it outward. “We expect our staff to treat all customers like a neighbor, with friendliness and courtesy. We treat our staff the way we want them to treat others. It’s that simple,” said Garrett.
Focusing on quality in customer service is a process that touches every other aspect of operations, and focusing on quality in every aspect of business will ensure a better outcome for customers. Garrett emphasized how easily the QualityPro’s standards helped plug gaps in Thrasher’s processes and ensure that consistent level of quality, and that the customer service chapter of the QualityPro training manual has been made required reading for all employees, not just technicians. Rather than simply studying to pass the QualityPro training exam, Thrasher’s safety and training department incorporates QualityPro training materials into all their modules, including their phone etiquette training for CSRs, making sure that service practices are standardized across the board.
“We find that you can’t just give the customer service message once, in one format, and expect traction. Build a culture of customer service and then work it.”
It’s not enough simply to train employees for customer service once and hope that company culture will keep standards up on its own, and Thrasher has taken proactive steps to ensure the standards they set are kept up in the long term. Garrett described a pattern of continuous reiteration of customer service principles—bringing up customer service in department meetings, playing out roleplay scenarios where participants must demonstrate customer service principles to pass the challenge, and routine public citation of employees who’ve gone above and beyond. He told about a customer who mentioned that a technician had brought their garbage can up to the house from the street. Garrett sent a company-wide message praising the technician by name. “Other staff responded with ‘I pick up the newspaper too!’ Because of our culture of customer service, our team happily tried to one-up each other with how they went above and beyond for customers. As a manager, you can’t ask for better proof that what you are doing is working.”
CUSTOMER SERVICE AND QUALITYPRO
QualityPro dedicates the first chapter of its study materials purely to customer service best practices, and acknowledges the foundational role customer service plays in a business’ success. Staff that pass our national exam have had to answer questions related to customer service—one thing that sets the QualityPro exam apart from state licensing exams. In addition, companies must detail their customer communication process for a service as part of the QualityPro application.
Our advice is always to ensure constant, clear and accurate communication between your company and each customer at all stages of providing service. Thrasher’s policy, as a QualityPro accredited company, is to allow staff “the time to clearly set expectations and document any promises made to the customer,” and Garrett continued to emphasize how important “consistent communication” is to the perception of a business. The majority of customer service issues result from miscommunication, or the misalignment of a company’s offered services and how those services are explained to customers in the field.
Customer service is a skill that must be practiced and perfected at every level of a company, at every stage of an employee’s development. QualityPro’s training materials and management resources offer guidance and structure every step of the way, and the proof is in the way customers report positive interactions with QualityPro companies. Take time to review your company’s policies and determine if QualityPro’s resources might be a better way to ensure consistency and professionalism.
QualityPro is administered by the Foundation for Professional Pest Management, an independent organization that has been developing good business practices and standards since 2004. Designed specifically for pest management companies in the U.S. and Canada, we are proud to certify over 500 of the best companies in the pest management industry. QualityPro is endorsed by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). For more information, contact us at QualityPro@pestworld.org.
BY GRIFFIN VOLTMANN, CERTIFICATION MANAGER, QUALITYPRO