by Deb Ng
My husband and I have a splurge we feel is justified. We pay local landscapers to mow own lawn. We’re both busy with our careers and our son and don’t want to lose precious down time spending an hour on the lawn tractor each weekend (not that we have one of those.). We recently employed a new landscaper because we felt he offered a good price and he came recommended. I have to admit, his lawn crew does an awesome job, but the customer service sucks.
Every time I call, the landscaper’s wife (who runs the business end) tells me she’ll call back. Sometimes it happens within hours, mostly it happens within days. I called her on Monday asked her to quote on our annual leaf cleanup. We have many very mature trees and our acreage is covered. We generally take care of this ourselves but this year we just don’t want to spare our time with our son. So I called 9:00 Monday morning. As of this morning I’ve yet to receive that return call. It doesn’t matter anyway.
Yesterday I was talking to the school bus driver who is also a neighbor. I told her about my dissatisfaction with the lawn service and she said I was welcome to call her teen who landscapes on the weekend. So I did. He was at my door 45 minutes later with a written quote complete with guarantee. He took a walk around my whole property and came back and asked questions about the border, the dog, and other things. None of the high priced landscapers in this area ever took the time to ask me these questions.
When my neighbor’s son left about 30 minutes later, he had the promise of a job for the weekend and if that goes well he will also be mowing our lawn and tending to periodic yard cleanup and other odd jobs. I was so impressed with this young man and his customer service, I would have hired him even if his price was higher than the landscaper.
What did he teach me about customer service?
- The early bird gets the worm: My landscaper might think I have time to wait for a quote because she’s my regular lawn person. She might also feel that she has such a good business it doesn’t matter to her if I’m kept waiting. It matters to me. I don’t expect immediate call returns, but within the same day is a good idea.
- Be thorough: I always employed landcapers who had a large clientele. No one ever walked my property to discuss things like borders, pets, neighbors pets, the tree that’s falling down out back and more. They showed up, did their work and went home. Clients like to know you care. Take some time and make them feel special
- Respond ASAP: This 19 year old came by right away with his quote. He even had a guarantee. I’m still waiting to receive a call back from my landcaper. Why do I have to call several times before getting an answer when I’m the one paying?
- If you make a good impression you can charge a higher price: As I mentioned above, I would have paid this teen more money than he asked for only because I was so impressed with his customer service and professionalism. You know what? If he does a good job he’s getting a tip.
- If your clients aren’t happy they’ll go elsewhere: I’m so disappointed in my landscaper’s poor customer service I’m considering hiring this teen to mow my lawn each week come spring. In one 30 minute visit he showed himself to be more reliable and professional than my landscaper has in six months.
For writers, writing is only part of our job. Customer service counts. The people who pay us want us to respond to calls and emails in a timely manner. They want us to be good communicators and give a project our all. In this day and age, it’s not enough to just show up for work. If our clients are unhappy they can, and will, take their business elsewhere.