Where Customer Service Falters

Aug 16, 2021 | Growth Tips, Leadership

As I travelled this summer through Mexico City, we stayed in two top hotels. One in the youthful arts district of Roma where we had a boutique hotel of 4 rooms, and one in the swanky district of Polanco where we stayed in a mid-size high end hotel.

Both gave outer-ordinary service, and both of their service levels had glitches in day 3.

It was the little things like the cookies on the bed, restocking the fridge, etc. If you are going to give me cookies each night, don’t skip a night!

The hotels remained great at the bigger things (they offered to polish my shoes for free when requested, and they packed our Uber when we left). Overall, we left with a positive experience.

Don't let your customer service falter. Be loyal to your clients in good times and bad, and your reputation for service will become your competitive advantage. Share on X

But the referrals would be inconsistent if someone asked us mid-trip.

Is it a systems issue? A people issue? Or something askew with leadership? It’s hard to say because I have seen this issue before at other US hotels, large and small. Start strong, then lose attention.

How does this apply to the landscape world?

In three distinct ways:

1.     Some landscape firms actually start weak.

They aren’t organized for giving strong initial impressions be it installation or in maintenance.

For example, a few years ago I held an event at Russell Landscape, and they showed us how they onboard their new clients during the first 60 days. A very coordinated introduction of all services which boosts their enhancements sales and ‘gives the client a very strong experience. Referrals start to flow immediately.

2.     Some landscape firms treat new clients better than existing clients.

This is especially true when existing clients want small detailed things and new clients are throwing money around.

Everyone is experiencing the difficulty of this issue given how strong demand is this year. The solution requires putting white space in the schedule and charging a high enough margin to make it worth your while. That’s win-win.

3.     Some long-time clients are taken for granted.

After 5+ years, when you raise the prices each year and the properties become easier to maintain, your attention falls away and your clients become vulnerable for another firm to sweep in and undercut your contracts.

For example, Kurt Bland of Bland Landscaping (speaker at my upcoming Summer Growth Summit) revealed to me that he sees this often, and it allows an aggressive company in the commercial sector to continually find new growth opportunities. 

Your Challenge: Be intentional and novel with your service levels at all stages of the clients experiences.

  1. Make the first 30-60 days stand out in your client’s mind and property; it’s your best shot of getting referrals.
  2. Show them the love in year 2 and 3, as if they were a new client. Set yourself up with the capacity to do so.
  3. For long time clients, don’t let them wonder “what’s new?”

For more examples of customer service systems, listen to my podcast with Jeff Rossen.

Be loyal to your clients in good times and bad, and your reputation for service will become your competitive advantage.