When anyone new starts at my company, one of the first things I say to them and I try to be sure to repeat throughout the weeks and months to come is:
“Our #1 goal is customer service, anyone can do tree work. Our priorities are: great customer service and no property damage."
By getting this into their head right off the bat, they understand that the happiness of our clients is our biggest goal when it comes to customer service. Obviously this discussion is about customer service, our biggest goal is being safe and coming home every night but that talk is for another discussion altogether. Now that I have that out of the way, let’s talk about some simple ways to help boost your customer service while on the job. These are things that I have been thanked for in the past by my own clients as well.
1: Show up with clean equipment that doesn’t leak fluids on their property
This is pretty self explanatory but I think it needs to be discussed. Many times were are burning “the midnight oil” being company owners just trying to get everything done in a 16 hour day but it is well worth it to take the time to keep your equipment clean as well as keeping the fluids they may leak off your client’s property. I have an F-550 that notoriously leaks oil. We have tried and tried to get it to stop but it’s an older vehicle that just won’t stop. Now we know to bring cardboard or the Jet Sled to set under the truck when we pull onto someone’s driveway. There have been other times when we stayed in the street to reduce the chance of it leaking on a really nice driveway, i.e. brick-pavers or stamped and stained concrete. This little bit of extra care can go a long ways when working for very particular clients. Also, I have had clients tell me that they would not hire someone that had old rusty beat up equipment. From that point on we have made an effort to make sure our trucks look good when we arrive at a client’s house!
2: Take your safety glasses off when you are going to talk to your client.
Many times in the middle of summer when the sun is bright we are almost guaranteed to be wearing shaded safety glasses. This is great to keep the sun out of our eyes and make it easier to see what is going on up in the tree without blinking non stop to keep the sun from burning our retinas out! But, as soon as I need to talk to the client, the first thing I do is remove my safety glasses so that they can see my eyes. This is just a small piece of human psychology that we’ve all heard before. People can tell if you are lying by looking at your eyes. Well, what if they can’t see your eyes at all?!?! I want my clients to know that I am sincere when I am talking to them about recommendations in their yard or for their trees. I want them to fully trust me as well as be comfortable with me. Those shaded safety glasses are creating a barrier between you and you client as well as a barrier between you and a potential up-sale, additional work or Google review.
3: Always knock on the client’s door when you first arrive to start work.
Even if you have already called, text, emailed, or sent smoke signals to your client telling them when you would be on their property, be sure to still knock on the door and tell them that you are there. This makes them more comfortable but also allows you to take control of the situation and make sure they understand that they might not be able to move freely about their property for their own safety while you are working in certain areas. It also allows them to move any vehicles that would otherwise be blocked in by you. This reduces downtime on your end but also reduces frustration on your client’s end by accidentally running late because your spider lift, chip truck, chipper and log truck needed to get moved before they could get their car out! Always try to think ahead for yourself, your crew and your client!
4: Be sure to rake up everything and blow off EVERYTHING!
How many times have you walked into your own house, taken off your chainsaw pants and watched 4 pounds of sawdust fall out of god only knows where all over the freshly vacuumed floor?!?! Yeah, I know the feeling too… Now think about your client just paying you thousands of dollars to remove a tree or prune trees and they let their dog out after you leave and that dog rolls around in all the sawdust you left on their patio and runs into their million dollar home! You might say to blame it on that dog but the problem is, they love that dog, they don’t love you! Be sure to rake up every little bit of debris that you made as well as any extra so their yard looks immaculate when you leave. Then be sure to blow off every surface that could possibly hold sawdust. This is a small thing that will go far further than you ever thought! I had a mason come to my house to install stone on our front porch. When the job was done, he told me that I had to get rid of the extra mortar and stone that they didn’t use. They left stone and dried up mortar in 4 foot by 4 foot boxes in my front yard. Even though they did a great job putting the stone on my house, I was furious that I had to dispose of their trash. This is the last thing I want my clients to have to do when I leave their property.
5: ALWAYS dispose of cigarette butts properly.
I don’t smoke. I never have but I do have a couple workers that do and they are great at putting their cigarettes out and then putting the butts in their pockets. We try to run a company that prides itself on tree preservation So I can only imagine when we puff our chest out about saving a historic tree but leave 10-20 little pieces of litter all over our client’s yard! If you are going to smoke, be responsible and pick up after yourself and surely don’t leave those things in a client’s yard for them to have to deal with after we are gone.
Though this is just a small list, I would love to hear some other ways that you are keeping your client’s happy with over the top customer service! Let’s hear some other ideas in the comments and hear what is working for you. Again, these are things I have learned and implemented at my own company to ensure that our clients stay happy and keep calling us back year after year.