What Does 'Customer Service' Mean to Your Service Business?
You may think of customer service as the work you do in your clients’ homes, but it goes way beyond that—it's about how you carry yourself and treat people in general. In fact, many successful service businesses have built their reputations on going beyond just completing jobs; they've inspired customers with their professionalism, great attitudes, and general willingness to help whenever possible.
I can think of one time I had a plumber in my home to fix a burst pipe. The first thing he did was take off his shoes before he entered so as not to track dirt inside. That level of respect for my home left a lasting impression on me! It went a long way toward building trust for him and his company and I never thought twice about calling him again.
Customer service is crucial for any home service business, but what’s more important is to be engaging, honest, and helpful so that you can go the extra mile for your customers every time.
Here are some simple customer service ideas you can use in your service business to set yourself apart from your competition:
1. Reach out. Don’t be afraid to make some calls.
The phone is an underutilized tool in the customer service arsenal, but it can be a powerful way to show your appreciation when you take the time to call someone who's given you their business. Call them up and ask them how they found you. Do they have any questions about the work done? Is there anything else that might make their experience better? Research has shown that a simple phone call works better to help people connect in a meaningful way. This type of personal touch will make for a lasting relationship with your customers—and it won't cost you much money at all!
2. Greet clients and prospects with a warm welcome
Have you ever stepped into a retail store and none of the sales people even bothered to look up and acknowledge you? You’d be surprised how far a simple ‘hello’ and a smile with eye contact goes. Even if you're busy, be sure to greet every client in person—it's a great way to set the tone for your relationship with them.
Use their name when you greet them and throughout your conversation. People like being recognized as individuals by those who serve them, so make it a point to use names whenever possible (including when addressing groups).
If you have a long list of open tasks on your agenda or are slammed at the office or on a job, don't let that interfere with showing up ready to serve the customers who matter most: those who've already shown interest in doing business with you! You'll turn off prospective clients if they get the impression that their needs aren't important enough for you to prioritize over yours.
3. Be honest about your skills and pricing
Be honest about your skills and pricing. Don’t over-promise, but don’t under-promise either. If you can usually do a job in one hour but you foresee this one taking three hours, tell the truth! Educate your client on the factors as to why and let them know if there are any delays in service that happened because of something outside of your control (like bad weather or an illness).
Be honest about the cost of materials if you have them on hand at a discounted rate for clients who use them for projects. For example, let's say that you sell tiles at wholesale prices as part of your business model; when someone purchases from you, they're paying retail prices anyway—so why not make up some ground by giving them some savings where they don't normally expect it? You could also offer services such as delivery or installation at no extra cost—because after all, what good is a discount if there's still an expense associated with obtaining said discount?
4. Offer reassurance to anxious customers
Make sure your customer knows you’re there for them. When customers are anxious about something, they need to feel reassured that you can help. So, let them know that everything will be okay: “I’m glad you called us about this problem; we want to make sure our customers are happy with their services. I know how frustrating it can be when things don't go as planned, but rest assured that I am here to help fix the situation as quickly as possible."
On the flip side, be transparent and honest if you don't have an answer yet. While offering them reassurance is important, sometimes a situation isn't clear-cut enough for a simple solution or quick resolution—in which case it may be best not offer any promises of fixing things right away until more information becomes available. Try this instead: "It sounds like there might be some work involved on our end in order to solve this problem--but since we've never dealt with anything like this before ourselves either, I'm not sure what exactly needs doing at the moment."
5. Go out of your way to provide helpful information
Be proactive with customers. You can’t assume that your customer understands the processes of the job involved. So be proactive in asking questions when talking to them to gather info that’s helpful in understanding their needs and wants better - including why they are looking for services like yours, along with what impact this would have on them (e.g., cost savings, time savings).
Don't assume you have all the answers. Ask! While this may seem obvious, many businesses don't take any opportunities to dig deeper because they want quick sales rather than long-term relationships with their clients. Going above and beyond here will help generate repeat business down the road if done correctly.
6. Become an expert they can trust
You're a professional, and you want to be treated like one. That means that when you ask a customer for their opinion on your product or service, they should take the time to respond with constructive feedback. To earn that kind of respect from customers and clients alike, become an expert in your field by reading relevant books and articles, attending seminars and conferences related to your industry, and staying up-to-date on current trends in business.
Becoming an expert is also about building trust with customers—they'll feel more confident about trusting you when they can see that you know what you're talking about! You can earn this trust by being honest about what works best for them (and why), being reliable by showing up when expected or delivering work on time (or early).
7. Always clean up the job site
This should be a given, but you’d be surprised how often I’ve had experiences where service providers complete a job and leave a mess. A clean job site means a happy customer. It's easy to leave behind bits and pieces of your work, but it pays off in the long run to leave a clean space when the work is done. After all, what's the point of being done with a project if you're leaving work for someone else to deal with? The rule of thumb should be to treat and leave your clients’ space as good - if not better- as your own.
Another thing that customers appreciate is when workers clean up before they go home for the day. Show care and consideration on behalf of everyone involved in getting something done right.
8. Don't be afraid to apologize when appropriate
Apologizing is a skill that can be learned and perfected through practice. You don’t need to be perfect; it’s better to apologize than not, especially when it comes to customer service. Apologizing is beneficial for both parties involved because it demonstrates an understanding of the issue and shows your willingness to fix the problem, even if you weren’t the one at fault.
Effective apologies are simple: they include an acknowledgement of wrongdoing, an explanation of what went wrong, why it was wrong (if applicable), how you plan on fixing the problem and what steps you'll take next time something similar happens. In addition, an effective apology should avoid blaming others or making excuses—which means saying things like "I'm sorry" or "This isn't good enough." Instead, express regret for having disappointed someone's expectations by saying something like: “I know this isn't what we agreed upon but I'm going to try my best."
9. Always follow up
Once you've done a job for a customer, don't walk away and leave them hanging. If you're the type who's good at following up, it can be an opportunity to deepen your relationship with your customers and make sure they're satisfied—and happy to refer you in the future.
Here are some great ways to follow up after completing a job:
Call or text. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly phone call to put someone's mind at ease and confirm that everything went well. At the very least, this demonstrates that your company cares about getting things right!
Following up doesn't have to only pertain to after the job, either. A quick followup call or text to a prospect who didn't get back to you after an estimate also shows a commitment to relationship building and follow-through. If you haven't thought about using text messaging for followups, you should check out ServiceMonster's CHIIRP integration to see how you can easily automate followups with prospects or current clients. It's a great way to win warm leads and get repeat business!
Send a handwritten note or card. A handwritten note from someone means so much more than just an email or text message—it takes time and effort on their part as well as yours for both parties involved (which is why it's worth doing!). Plus, people love receiving snail mail these days!
Send a gift card or voucher for their next purchase/service with you. This could be used toward any follow-up services you offer that are specific to the work you just did or a coupon or discount code tucked in a handwritten thank you card. If you were particularly pleased with how understanding they were with a tough situation, consider sending them free merchandise or added services as well.
10. Handwritten thank you cards
Sound old-fashioned? Maybe so, but it works! Handwritten thank you cards are an excellent way to express gratitude and build lasting relationships with your customers. With the rise of social media and text, handwritten notes are far more meaningful than digital messages.
A handwritten note is a great way to show your customers that you care. You can use a template or make it unique, but the important thing is that you add your personal touch and let them know how much they mean to you.
It's also a nice way to show customers that their business matters. If they see their order has been carefully packaged, they're more likely to believe that other aspects of their experience with your company are being cared for as well.
Did you know that ServiceMonster has an automated feature to help you do this very thing? It's called FillMySchedule, and instead of handwriting and mailing cards yourself, you can let ServiceMonster take care of it all with one tap of a button. It's one of the easiest ways to get repeat business and will come back in spades when it comes time for reviews! Customers remember good service and tell others about it—especially if there's something specific about it, like a personalized, handwritten note.
Remember, it’s the little things that often stand out
Customers remember the little things. They’re not just looking for a good service experience; they want an exceptional one—the kind that makes them feel special and appreciated. So go the extra mile in whatever ways you can: deliver above and beyond, send thank-you cards when someone has chosen you for their services, and even leave handwritten notes on receipts thanking them for their business (seriously!).
Customers remember how you make them feel. One of the best ways to make customers feel special is by going above and beyond their expectations and making sure experiences are memorable for all the right reasons—not because something went wrong!
If you want to build customer loyalty and make a lasting impression on your customers, then it's important to go the extra mile with them. By doing small things that show you care about their needs and wants, they'll be more inclined to trust in your service and return again in the future.