How would you rate your green-industry business’s level of customer service? If you’d give your business a pretty high score, you’re not alone: 80 percent of companies believe they deliver exceptional service, according to a survey of more than 350 businesses by Bain & Company, a global management firm.
However, according to that same survey, only 8 percent of those businesses’ customers agree. That means nearly every customer thinks the company has room for improvement. At this year’s Spring-Green National Training Conference, Jay Baer, bestselling author of Hug Your Haters, spoke to franchise owners about how to improve their customer interactions. Here’s a look at some of the insights he offered.
Respond to Every Customer Complaint, Every Time
According to Baer, “Haters are not your problem: Ignoring them is.”
No one likes hearing or reading that a customer is unhappy with you or your company, and it’s easy to take their complaints or negative reviews personally. But if you are slow to respond or don’t get back to the customer at all, you could lose current and future business.
A third of complaints are never answered, according to Baer. When you don’t respond, you’re telling your customers you don’t care about them or their concerns — and that’s not good business or a way to build relationships.
Here are some tips on how to respond to your customer complaints:
All complaints should be addressed within 24 hours, and the sooner you can respond, the better — after you’ve taken a moment to collect your thoughts. Social media complainers expect a reply within an hour, Baer says, so it’s important you get back to them as quickly as possible. Even if the person responding needs to talk to a manager to resolve the issue, they should let the customer know right away they are working on it.
Your customer isn’t always right, but they should always be heard, Baer says. Actively listen to their complaint (without getting defensive), and show them you care. Customers want to feel like their issue is important to the company and realizing that can diffuse the situation and help you both be happy with a resolution.
Have a System in Place
Know who is in charge of responding to each complaint. You could have an assistant who assigns them to the appropriate member through your CRM, or there could be a dedicated person who responds to them all. Figure out what works best for your team so that none get lost or forgotten.
If you messed up, admit it and offer a way to fix the problem. People will respect you for being honest and often become some of your biggest supporters after that.
But remember, if the complaint is posted online where others can see it, future leads will also be able to see how you responded. Make sure your reply shines a positive light on your company: Show respect, empathy and a genuine desire to make the situation better.
Build Trust With Transparency, Keep Customer Interactions Personal
Customers are often skeptical of professionals, worried they might be taken advantage of. Reassure your customers by being open about your company and services. Start using these techniques to show transparency:
Be Upfront About Costs
There shouldn’t be any surprises when it comes to what customers will pay, and explain how you came up with that price (material list, labor hours, equipment, etc.). Billing is one of the top issues for companies, so keep from being part of that statistic.
Share Information Openly
Just because you know why you offer seven lawn care applications a year doesn’t mean your customer does. Send out informational emails about what and why you do things, company updates, and answer any questions customers may have.
Inform them of Changes
Did the weather delay you a day, or will a different crewmember be working on their property? Give them the heads up with a text, email or call. Even a small gesture to let customers know what’s going on can make a huge difference in their overall experience with your company.
People want to do business with other people. It’s all about creating and cultivating relationships. So, make sure all of the interactions you have with customers — whether it’s on the phone or during a service call — are positive and personable.
That starts with answering the phone when they call. Use your notes on a customer from your CRM to personalize the conversation, and address them by name. Using a friendly tone can also have a large impact on how they perceive your company, and be sure to thank them for being a loyal customer.
How Spring-Green Can Help
Keeping up with calls can be especially tough during the busy season, which is why Spring-Green’s call center can be such a huge benefit.
Spring-Green’s national call center handles inbound and outbound calls, along with web leads. They provide professional, polite service, ensuring your customer is happy with the interaction. The call center is one of the top resources franchise owners say has made a difference in their businesses.
Want to learn more about how becoming a Spring-Green franchise owner can benefit you and your customers. Call 1-800-777-8608 or visit www.growmygreenindustrybusiness.com.