ICS Magazine

Keeping Your Clientele

December 1, 2006
In the beginning, most businesses concentrate on making the phone ring to ensure a steady supply of jobs to provide the dollars to keep the bills paid.

“Thank You” cards are simple, yet incredibly valuable

Before too much time has elapsed, you will hopefully be at the point where your marketing plan is working, and the challenge will be to convert those callers into scheduled jobs.

This is the point at which you must have a plan in place to keep those new customers smiling. This is where customer service enters the picture in a big way.

When new shoppers call, you must make them feel good about both you and themselves while you are talking. This is best achieved by a real live person, not through a voicemail system. Ask a few questions about the work they want to have done; this will make them feel unique and important, while also helping with your job planning.

Ask simple questions that they can answer, such as “What color is the carpet?” “How old is it?” “What rooms will need servicing?” “Are there any particular problems, such as stains (especially pet stains) or heavy soiling?” “Will you want the protector renewed (important to your profit picture)?” “Will furniture need to be moved and reset?” “When is it convenient to schedule the job?” “Will you want a price quote?” Now that the job is on the book, it is important that all goes well.

The day of the job arrives and the show begins. A courtesy call the day or evening before the job confirms the customer is expecting you and will (hopefully) be prepared for your arrival. Promptness may the single most important factor, although effectiveness of cleaning is also quite important. If you have already done a site visit to determine parameters of the work, including things such as price, areas to be cleaned, furniture handling, drying considerations, (open windows or turn on AC, leave fans), special spot or stain treatments, where to park the truck, etc., be sure to now address any questions they may have. Once the job is complete, you may want to leave a comment card asking for opinions on the services provided. You may also want to leave them a refrigerator/file cabinet magnet with your company name and contact information. Some companies also leave the customer a bottle of spotter to be used in case of future accidents.

Post-job follow up can help assure that the customer remains “yours” and refers friends and relatives to you in the future. The first step is a phone call a day or so after the job to ensure that all was satisfactory and that no problems surfaced during the drying process, such as soil or stain wicking, wrinkling of carpet, slow drying, odors, or any other concerns you can address for them. This is also a good time to ask for referrals. This call should be followed up in a few days by a “Thank You” card. It is amazing how many times the customer will call thanking you for the card, relating that no one has ever thanked them for their business before. Perhaps because my customer base is mostly elderly retirees, it is surprising how sincere the “thank you call” for the “thank you card” really is. By this point I have pretty well ensured that this customer is mine for life.

Now we move into the follow up stage of the relationship, to once again attempt to ensure that this new client becomes your loyal customer and, hopefully, a Raging Fan who carries your message of exemplary service to her “circle of influence” of friends, relatives and coworkers. It is important that you keep your name in front of the customer on a regular basis, and that you maintain a database of satisfied customers that you contact on a regular basis. This contact may be as simple as a postcard with seasonal reminders (holiday time again), notice of specials or even a newsletter on a regular basis. Until next month, see ya!