I’m good at keeping customers happy. Really, really good.
Do your clients offer their vacation homes to you rent free? Happened to me twice. Will they wait a year for your services if you are backed up? Mine did, gladly.
Have you ever had a customer ask you to perform her wedding? Yep, I performed a customer wedding.
I got good at lots of things in my 15 years of business, but I was better than anyone at keeping customers satisfied and loyal.
How? Simple, really. In fact, I’m shocked that more service businesses don’t figure this out. If you do, you’ll have an instant advantage over your competition and earn business away from them.
The secret to superior customer service (and loyalty) comes down to two words.
The easiest way to solve a customer problem is to never have it in the first place.
Your customers need to feel like you know them – their interests, frustrations, preferences. In short, they need to know that you give a crap.
The only way to do that is to pay attention to them, listen to them. Is there music playing when you come into the house? What kind? Do they like cockapoos? You should know that.
Knowing your customers well lets you anticipate their problems – and avoid them.
Example: I was installing a set of attic stairs in a new customer’s garage. I had to cut the ceiling drywall back to make room for the larger stairs. Before I started cutting drywall (a dusty mess) I laid down a sheet of plastic to catch the debris and make clean up easier. I also covered his work bench and cabinets.
My customer raved about my attention to detail.
“Most people wouldn’t do that on a garage floor. Now there won’t be any residue!”
What did I learn? That my customer was a neat freak and that all his other service people ignored that. I had a customer for life.
Anticipating problems does two things for you. First, you avoid the problem (obviously). Second, you build massive trust with your customer. She knows she is in good hands, that she can trust you.
Like an old timer told me once, “You can live with someone you don’t love. You can’t live with someone you don’t trust.”
Anticipate your customers’ needs and be there waiting to meet them.
Are you going to be late? Text your customer. Did materials not come in on time and you need to reschedule? Call your customer immediately. Did your customer expand the scope of what she wants and you need more money? Talk, talk, talk to her.
I am still surprised at how many service people suck at communicating with customers, because it is so easy. Today there is no reason why you should not keep your customers updated consistently. There are just too many ways to communicate with each other.
And trust me, other than not showing up for a job, nothing ticks customers off more than feeling like they are in the dark. It makes them feel like you are neglecting them. Or worse, ripping them off.
Communicate so much that they tell you to stop. They won’t.
Again, this comes down to making your customer feel special and appreciated. Do that and they’ll appreciate you right back, with their dollars and loyalty.
Example: More than once I have shown up to a house to do a quote and was greeted by the homeowner in his bathrobe, completely surprised to see me.
Customer: “I didn’t expect you.”
Me: “We had an appointment at 9 am, didn’t we?”
Customer: “Well, yeah, but all the others never showed up and didn’t tell me they weren’t coming.”
Again, I got a customer for life.
More important than price
Most customers aren’t won or lost on price. That is a myth. Profitable customer relationships, especially long-term ones, are built on anticipation and communication.
Take it to the bank.