ICS Magazine

The Importance of Follow-Up Service

June 17, 2003

Several years ago I had a conversation with a local cleaner wherein we discussed the merits of follow-up phone calls immediately after jobs. My company had been doing this on a regular basis, but he seemed a bit perplexed about the necessity of it. His philosophy was, if a customer was unhappy in any way with a job, she would surely phone him and he would respond by returning immediately. His reason for not phoning her first? “It would give the client an excuse to get something re-cleaned for free where there may not be a problem.” In other words: don’t court trouble.

The fact of the matter is this: Most clients will not phone you when they are unhappy with your work. They will, however, phone someone else when they require cleaning again. They may also voice their displeasure to their friends and relatives, your potential clients.

This scenario is quite easy to avoid. Phone your clients within 24 hours after their appointment. True, the phone bills add up. Yes, it is time consuming and yes, there may be an occasion where someone either has you return for a dime-sized spot or even take advantage of your great customer service by having you come back to clean the dirty area their 6-year-old created after you left.

It is also important to remember that cleaning professionals are not infallible, that there may be a legitimate problem or concern that requires your attention. But for the small time and effort involved in a return trip, you gain a lifetime client.

The bottom line is, always phone your clients before they phone you. When the client states that there is a small area you may have missed but it’s “no big deal, it can wait until your next visit,” insist on returning immediately. I recently phoned a regular client to check on the prior day’s work. He said there was a small area we may have missed, but not to worry, he didn’t want to inconvenience us. I explained that this was an inconvenience to him, apologized, and stated we would return immediately. Within a week, the man’s sister phoned for an appointment.

Would she have phoned anyway if I told him we would take care of it next time? It is doubtful. In fact, had we not remedied the situation there may not have been a “next time.” By returning promptly we not only secured his future business, but also his referrals.

In addition to our follow-up calls, four or five days after the job is complete we send out a “thank you” letter, along with a referral card or two, to let our clients know how valuable their business is to us and the importance we place on their satisfaction with our work.

Remember, the key to expansion begins with your current client base and the way you treat each and every customer. Great service goes a long way!