5 Tips to Keep Your Customers Happy
Contributed by Guest Blogger: Martin McGuane, owner and operator of McGuanes Landscaping and Tree Service, Enfield CT
Call me old-fashioned but I have always felt that the best way to keep a customer happy is to give them what they want. So,if a customer calls because he has broadleaf weeds in his lawn, the best solution is to control the weeds. Or, if a customer calls and she says that her lawn has grubs, do what she wants and kill the grubs. If a lawn care customer calls and tells you his lawn is dead, and it is actually dead, give him a new lawn. Reseed his lawn if necessary.
Listen to your Customer
Now it gets tricky. You need to step back and talk things over with your customer. The most important thing when speaking with a customer is to LISTEN. This is where many service providers go wrong. Let the customer speak, without interrupting, for as long as it takes. Then you should begin to speak. This will not only help you understand the problem and find a solution, but there is also a lot of value in just allowing the customer the chance to vent.
Come up with a Solution
In the example given earlier of the customer with the dead lawn, if the lawn died due to grubs or chinch bugs the customer would feel that you are responsible. They are not the lawn experts in this example, we would reseed his lawn. In some cases we would charge the customer, often times not.
The way to keep a customer happy is to give them what they want. Many of you will think that I am crazy for suggesting that you eat the cost of labor and material for something that may not have been your fault. To this I say... look at your customers as long term investments rather than short term. You may lose money on this customer for the next few applications, but overall, both you and your customer will come out ahead in the years to come.
Avoid the “Blame Game”
Not every lawn deserves a free seed job, but every customer should be heard and their issues need to be addressed. The “Blame Game” helps no one and solves nothing. In some cases we will split the cost of the solution with the customer. This will help cover the cost of seed and labor. Charging the customer a nominal fee will help them become vested in the outcome of the lawn.
Years ago I had a customer call me to say that her lawn was dead. When I arrived on site I was greeted with an earful… the lawn was dead from chinch bugs. We had applied chinch bug control that year, but it was a very hot season with multiple generations of chinch bugs that had infested her lawn. We agreed to overseed her lawn at no charge. The seed germinated and soon the lawn looked beautiful. She has been a customer ever since and that was 25 years ago!
When Roles Are Reversed
When the roles are reversed and I’m the “customer”, nothing tops the feeling I get when I receive excellent customer service. It’s one of main factors in determining how loyal I am to a vendor, business or even a restaurant. There are many examples of companies that are well-known for their excellent customer service, such as Amazon, Apple, and State Farm just to name a few of the big ones. Sprayer Depot is an industry-specific company with a reputation for excellent customer service. Their Mission Statement is clearly stated on their website:
“… We strive to bring the customer experience to the forefront, by making the shopping experience easy for customers to find and purchase spray equipment, parts and accessories, at the most competitive prices in the industry.”
So let’s recap my tips to keep customers happy:
- Listen to your customer fully BEFORE speaking.
- Come up with a solution to the problem.
- Avoid the “Blame game”.
- Think of your customers as long-term investments, not short-term.
- Give your customers what they want.
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About the Author:
Martin McGuane is the owner and operator of McGuanes Landscaping and Tree Service Inc,www.mcguanes.com which has been servicing Central Connecticut and Western Massachusetts since 1987. Martin is a 1981 graduate of the University of Connecticut's School of Agriculture. He is a Connecticut licensed arborist and has a Custom Ground Supervisor license in both Connecticut and Massachusetts. He also holds a CT Irrigation License.