As you have seen, I am on a kick lately, writing about how to up your customer service game.
Providing best-in-class customer service goes a long way to maximizing your customer “Retention, Repeat and Referral” business.
These “3 Rs” are the lifeblood of your business.
But they are outcomes.
To achieve these stellar results, you have to build a best-in-class service ethic and set of processes.
We have all read about the “extras” companies do for their clients (holiday gifts, etc). But these are meaningless if your customer experience is not already consistently great.
(In other words, if the ribs are overcooked and dry, no amount of fancy BBQ sauce is going to help).
You have to start at the core with how your employees think and behave when it comes to the customer.
Create A Service Ethic
As the company owner, you set the service ethic in your lawn and landscape business. You set the standard for how your people behave.
You do this by treating your employees the way you want them to treat your clients.
But that’s just the starting point.
You need to understand how your clients live, work and what levels of service they have come to expect from their other best-in-class providers.
Educate Yourself By Investing In Best-In-Class Experiences:
- Stay at a top hotel, e.g. The Four Seasons, or a five-star resort.
- Fly first class on a top airline, especially a long-haul flight.
- Shop at a high-end clothing store or luxury car dealer.
A client of mine (back in my Connecticut landscaping days) owned a chain of luxury clothing stores, and also wrote a best-selling book on service titled “Hug Your Customer.” He was a demanding customer, which taught me a lot.
I had all my peer group members read his book. But it’s not enough to read about great service, you have to make it visceral for yourself and your leaders. Try the following:
- Take them for dinner in a top restaurant (tip the waiter ahead of time, and ask for the very best in service.)
- Take them to a luxury car dealer, and have the manager sell you their cars and talk to you about their client’s expectations.
- Ask a top client to come to speak to your team/company about great customer service, and their personal experience working with other great service companies.
This last idea is a winner.
It’s the same reason that owners love when I lead their teams in strategic planning.
When I speak with authority, their employees hear me with open ears, and it confirms what their owner has been telling them.
Written Service Standards Are Key
All best-in-class companies have their service standards written down for everyone to understand and rally around.
It’s not just a culture, but a written code of conduct.
A great example of this is Ritz Carlton; just google their gold standards. They set the standard on standards! For example, their motto says it all, “Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”
The Key Is To Build Processes That Can Match Your Standards
The Russell Landscape Group in Atlanta has excellent processes.
- Their maintenance on-boarding processes ensure a wow in the client’s first 30 days and also maximize enhancement sales in the first year.
- And when a large client experiences a service failure, they get a systematic outreach of attention from the top, until the client is turned around and bragging across town.
I could write a 250-page white paper on everything needed to build a best-in-class service company. But let me make it easy for you…
Your Challenge: Improve Your Service Ethic Without Coming Across As Pushing Another Fad
Here are four simple places to start:
- Set high standards around client communication – for both new leads and existing clients – it’s the best place to start.
- identify what is getting in the way of hitting those high standards, and remove those obstacles.
- Get outside of your box, and expose your company leaders to high levels of service out in the real world.
- Invite your best clients to help you get there. They will love it and so will your staff.
Whether you are in residential or commercial, you have clients that live and breathe best-in-class customer service, and their insights would be eye-opening for your staff.
No annual meeting is complete without a top client addressing your rank and file.
P.S. If you would like to become the best and hang out with a group of your peers who are all aiming to become best-in-class, join our high-impact Leader’s Edge peer group for landscape business owners.
It will change your business and your life! Fill in an application here.