When there are a number of competitors in your market who are charging similar prices for their landscape maintenance services, one way to retain your client base is through superior customer service.
Because customer service has become such a nebulous business phrase, you might be at a loss as to how to provide anything out of the ordinary. The great thing is there are multiple methods when it comes to providing outstanding customer service that can put you ahead of others.
Create a Dedicated Customer Service Team
For Kingstowne Lawn & Landscape, based in Alexandria, Virginia, they decided to create a dedicated customer satisfaction team to ensure their 3,500 plus residential clients’ maintenance and design-build needs were met in a timely manner.
This team deals with everything from phone calls to emails to processing contracts, billing and everything in between. They do not leave for the day until every client email and phone call is returned. They work to follow up with customers after a job is completed and to appease upset customers who reach out.
“It’s just really figuring out with the customer what is going on, listening to the customer and putting a plan forward,” says Serena Corby, director of client satisfaction. “It’s really just a matter of talking to the customer and having them understand a little bit of reason as to what’s going on. But always first and foremost is really allowing the customer to speak and allowing the customer to be heard.”
Provide a Single Point of Contact
Another way to ensure you are providing consistent communication to your customers is to assign a single point of contact. This “customer intimate model” is how Parterre Garden Services, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, operates.
“We try to engage our clients at least twice a year on the property profile creation for their properties to fully engage them in the long-term development and growth of their properties,” says Jason Harris, co-owner of Parterre. “From that approach, we have been able to really understand our clients’ needs and we then vertically integrate into their next level and round of needs. It has worked out very well from that standpoint.”
Conduct Customer Surveys
Another way to improve your customer service is to conduct surveys with your clients. You don’t have to passively wait for feedback. Proactively reaching out and asking what your customers like and dislike about your business gives you a chance to improve and keep more accounts moving forward.
“It’s a very valuable tool because you might think you’re doing great, but then you talk to some clients and you find out maybe you’re not hitting the mark in this one area,” says Garth Sager, director of sales and client relations for Chalet, based in Wilmette, Illinois. “Or quite the opposite, maybe you think you’re struggling in an area and actually you’re doing a lot better than you thought you did. There’s a lot of good information that can come out of it.”
One of the most common ways to increase customer service is to exceed their expectations. This requires you taking the time to set clear and reasonable expectations from the start.
Determine if the client’s values and expectations align with yours early on. If you have a customer who isn’t a good fit, it will be impossible to please them, let alone go above and beyond for them. In some of these cases, there is an opportunity to educate the client, but for others, you may have to let go.
For your ideal clients, determine what is valuable to them. It could be an in-depth walkthrough after your first time servicing the property to make sure they’re satisfied or it could be a token of appreciation after key service milestones or around the holidays. These can be unexpected pleasures that strengthen your relationships.