ICS Magazine

It's the Small Things That Matter

September 16, 2002
Attention to detail can help unlock profits


Sometimes we are so focused on getting the job done that we overlook some of the small details that set us apart from our competition.

It is important, of course, to complete the task at hand, but it is equally important to make the overall service experience as pleasant for your client as possible. It is often the little details that the client remembers as being the key to the quality of your service. What we might consider a minor point could be very important to the client.

It seems that lately, businesses all across North America are forgetting to focus on the details, and service is going downhill fast. In the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to be on the receiving end of both good and not-so-good service in a variety of situations. When I look back on those experiences it is not whether or not the service was completed that comes to mind. In fact, in every case the end result was acceptable. What made a lasting impression on me, however, were the small, unexpected things.

For example, while one hotel desk clerk may simply check you in and point to the elevator, another clerk asks about your trip, inquires as to whether you need help finding a restaurant for dinner, offers to get assistance to carry your bags, and gives you his name should you need anything special in the near future.

Some additional examples of service people paying attention to the "little things" include the furniture delivery team that asked if there were any pets to be concerned about before they removed the door in order to get the new refrigerator inside, and the sales clerk that offered me a chair while my wife tried on an outfit she was considering purchasing.

One sure "hot button" for many clients is being kept informed. In a world of cell phones, pagers and the like, there is no excuse for not keeping the client informed of schedule changes, unexpected events, even progress reports as might be appropriate on major restoration jobs extending several days.

Situations that apply to a cleaning and restoration service include calling the customer by his or her proper name; asking permission to park in a specific spot on their property; placing a towel at the door to catch that first dirty step; placing corner protectors anywhere a hose might rub against a wall; cleaning the door mat at no extra charge; replacing the furniture exactly where the client wants it; and listening to the client's sometimes not-so-funny stories with a smile.

There are also some little things that you don't want to do. Ever. Forgetting to wipe your feet upon entering, using bad language (even though you were not talking to the client), smoking in the client's home, and leaving stains in the driveway will all put a very negative spin on the impression you leave.

None of these things have anything to do directly with getting the client's carpet clean or restoring the water damage, but they can have a lot to do with pleasing the customer and creating an atmosphere that will lead to repeat and referral business opportunities.

The client's overall experience with your company begins with your advertising and promotional materials. It extends through the scheduling and sales process and, naturally, includes the work performance itself.

The final chapter in the customer's experience with your company is the follow-up after the work is complete. Always ask if everything is as expected. Make sure all the little things are taken care of. Finish off the experience by inviting the customer tell their friends about your company, and feel confident they will do just that.

Finally, never miss an opportunity to say "Thank You." After all, it is often the small things that matter the most.