ICS Magazine

Customer Service is Only Perception

October 22, 2002
Peoples’ perceptions are their realities. Regardless of past efforts and intentions, today’s consumers recognize only what they feel, and if your good intentions and accompanying actions don’t give them the feeling that you care and are providing excellent service, they won’t be happy.

Customer service training programs must become a priority for professional cleaning services that want their businesses to grow in size and profitability. Only customer service that meets the consumer’s expectations will be successful and build more loyalty in the marketplace. It is not a one-size-fits-all situation. And while this makes providing customer service more difficult, it makes the rewards more satisfying.

Surveys reveal that 69 percent of the customers you lose don’t return simply because of unsatisfactory service experiences. Some of these experiences are so tiny as to be considered trivial by some. But anything that stops them from buying your services is not trivial!

The surveys also reveal that 86 percent of the message your customers receive on the telephone is through the tone of voice used by you or your employee. Unfortunately, this is a customer service contact that is frequently overlooked by harried service professionals.

Customer Service Training is for Everyone
Whether it is the person on the front line or someone serving the front line, all activities touch the customers. Anyone serving the customer directly or indirectly needs to be trained or re-trained in fundamental customer service skills. Customer service expectations vary depending on the market niche you are serving. Re-energize and update your staff with the skills required for excellent customer service in your marketplace.

  • An Attitude of Excellent Service from the Top Down
    Excellent customer service starts at the top with the attitude of the owner, manager or supervisor.
  • Identifying Your Customer and Their Special Needs
    Identifying the needs of customers is a skill that requires listening and probing. It’s not easy today because of the segmentation in the market for cleaning services, but it is worth everything you have to do to find them.

    Essential Tips for Great Customer Service

  • Maintain an Attitude of Service Excellence
    Speak well of your company and all your employees at all times. How they look and how they act will speak volumes to your prospects and customers. Respond quickly and cheerfully to all customers, and re-prioritize work when customer needs arise.
  • Identifying Customer Needs
    Ask customers probing questions. Recognize all customer needs and respond with respect. Be sure to identify customer needs that are expressed non-verbally as well as verbally.
  • Use Customer-Friendly Body Language and Words
    Greet everyone, staff, visitors and customers with a smile. Use a cheerful and enthusiastic tone of voice at all times. Practice open- and friendly body language and eye contact at all times.
  • Practice Excellent Service at Every Customer Contact Point
    Be cheerful at every customer contact point. Keep all work areas clean and neat, even if you are on a fire loss. Address problems on the spot before the customer can become dissatisfied.
  • Handle Difficult Customers with Care
    Allow angry customers to vent by listening carefully, and don’t be defensive. Use problem-solving skills to resolve issues before they escalate. Don’t take a customer’s anger personally.
  • Know Your Customer’s Expectations and Exceed Them

    Providing Great Customer Service on the Telephone
    While you are working on your customer service project, tie in telephone training. We all need it. Because we can’t see the person, it is easy to take your current frustrations out on the faceless voice on the phone (telephone solicitors don’t make it any easier). Use these following positive tips to help your training efforts.

  • Check your attitude.
  • Answer the phone by the third ring.
  • Check your tone of voice for warmth, clarity, enthusiasm, inflection, confidence, sincerity, volume, enunciation and pace.
  • Manage the call. Greet the caller with “good morning” or “good afternoon,” give your name, offer to help, take notes, use the caller’s name, solve the caller’s problem and thank the caller.
  • Give the caller control. Explain the next steps. Ask permission to put the caller on hold and wait for a response. Give the caller an estimated time they can expect to be on hold and offer to call him or her back.
  • Transfer with care. Ask permission to transfer the caller and explain why the transfer is necessary. Make sure someone is available to receive the transfer and inform them of the caller’s situation.
  • Identify the problem. Listen for facts and reflect with words of understanding. Probe for information, determine potential solutions and provide options to the caller.
  • Bring the call to a polite close and thank the caller.

    Customer service no longer has the same meaning for cleaning professionals as it once did. Today you cannot service all customers effectively and profitably. Determine who and what you are in your market, develop your customer service to meet your customers’ needs, and you will find yourself working smarter instead of harder.