When you’re busy running your business, it can be difficult to think like your customer, but that is precisely what you have to do when trying to determine where there is room for improvement in terms of your customer service.
Think About Your Customer’s Journey
First, let’s consider what it is that your are actually selling. Cleaning services? Sure, on paper. In reality, you are selling convenience and trust. You are quite literally asking your customer for the keys to their home and for them to allow you entrance often when no one is home. At the same time, your customer is wanting to satisfy a household need and once they make a decision about who to hire, they don’t want to have to think about it anymore. They’re checking something off of their to-do list. Your customer wants to be able to trust that you will provide the services they need without any hassles or the need for any substantial on-going attention to the task.
How easy is your new customer on-boarding process?
Your customer’s journey begins with the first point of contact. Typically, the first contact is via phone or email. It is critical that you answer the phone during your published office hours and reply to emails as quickly as possible. It can be difficult for a small business when the owner is also still in the field, but remember a prospect often hires the first company to answer the phone! Be sure the individual tasked with answering the phones is equipped to answer most general questions, can provide a quote, setup scheduling and on-board a new customer.
It absolutely has to be easy for a new customer to hire you and for them to have realistic expectations for the services you are providing. It is a good idea to periodically review the following processes to make sure your on-boarding process is easy for your customer to navigate:
- Clearly stated methods of contacting you, including your office hours
- Convenient payment options
- Clearly stated Terms & Conditions including any cancellation or schedule change policies
- Clearly stated Complaint Resolution Process
- Cleaning service checklists of scope of services to be provided
- Clearly stated service agreements or contracts where applicable (try to avoid confusing legalese whenever possible)
- Provide proof of insurance, licensing, etc. where applicable
The goal is reduce the time and effort involved once a customer hires you so you can quickly move toward delivering your services and generating revenue.
How convenient is it for your customer to continue working with your business?
Remember, a customer typically only cancels services and begins searching for a new cleaning company when there is an issue that is not easily or adequately addressed. If it remains convenient for your customer to keep your services, they will stick with you forever.
- Setup timely automated reminder emails or text messages to remind your customers when you will be in their home
- Setup automated reminder emails or text messages confirming that a service has been delivered and thank them each and every time
- Provide payment receipts for each transaction
- Periodically contact each customer to ask them if there is anything you can do to continue to improve your services
- Provide timely and clear notifications if your services, prices or policies change
- Be responsive to all communications
If there is an issue, are you equipped to handle it professionally?
Regardless of how good your operation is, things happen. People have bad days and that includes both your customers and your staff. Accidents happen. Human error may cause something to be missed. Do business for long enough and you’ll find yourself having to deal with a customer complaint.
How you handle the complaint will determine whether you keep the customer or not. And sometimes it may not be in your interest to keep a customer, but you should still do what you can to not have a disgruntled customer scream their complaint from the highest mountain (or to Yelp!).
Thankfully, if your Terms & Conditions have been clearly stated and provided to your customer during on-boarding AND your have a clearly stated complaint resolution process, handling issues should be simpler.
The key to successfully resolving customer complaints is to communicate and do your best to remove emotion from the discussion. Do not take complaints personally. Get to the heart of the problem, take responsibility when appropriate, and propose a fair course of action to fix the issue.
Keep a Customer For Life Through Customer Service
We already know that the single biggest factor in differentiating your cleaning business is through excellent customer service. It is also the key to keeping a customer for life. Never forget that your customer is simply trying to address a need. If you can consistently satisfy their need and make it convenient and worry-free, you’ll keep that customer for life. Make it easy for a customer to do business with you. Make it easy to communicate with you. Be responsive and their needs evolve or if there is an issue. And periodically review all of your customer service processes to make sure you continue to maintain consistency over time.
Known as The Maid Coach, Debbie Sardone is America’s top cleaning business consultant. Debbie helps owners of residential cleaning companies build a 7-figure dream business, with a 6-figure income and the freedom in their lives that they deserve.