[Customer Service] 6 Steps to Meeting Customer Expectations

How to set your company apart in a competitive marketplace.

February 28, 2008

What do customers expect? Sometimes we might think they expect too much. But university studies confirm there are only six things a customer ultimately craves. Customers crave competency, honesty, communication, respect, urgency and preparedness. As a pest management professional, hopefully you’ll recognize the important role all six of these qualities play in the success of your company.

First, customers expect us to be competent. They want to deal with people who know how to control and prevent pest problems. That’s why our commitment to ongoing training and education must be a priority.

Secondly, they expect us to be honest. Ethics and honesty are a key part of the corporate culture at Cook’s Pest Control, as they should be at every pest management company. Never deceive a customer. Keep your promises, as well as those made by other company representatives. For example, if you tell a customer they will receive a minimum of four ant bait stations around their home, install at least four stations. If they don’t see four, your integrity will be questioned.

The third expectation is communication. Our customers demand to know what’s going on in or around their home or business. Therefore, always tell the customer:

  • What you are there to do.
  • What you did while you were there
  • What you will do on their next visit.

And if for any reason you are unable to meet with the customer, have technicians legibly record this information on the service report that’s provided to the customer.

Number four is respect. This means personal respect for the customer and their property. For example, technicians should ensure their shoes or boots are clean before entering a home so as not to bring leaves, dirt or debris into your customers’ homes. The ultimate respect is being on time. Customers become angry when we arrive late or fail to show up. They feel we do not respect their time.

The fifth expectation is urgency. If a customer has a problem, address it immediately. We must respond quickly to customer sales and service requests. Don’t be complacent about solving pest problems. We’ve seen many termite swarms and know that a home is not destroyed by termites overnight; however, to the homeowner this may be a first, and for them it is an overwhelming experience.

Finally, customers expect us to be prepared. Preparation is having the proper materials in the proper amounts while using the proper equipment to solve their pest problems. If we want to lose a customer’s trust, just say, “I’ll come back tomorrow and finish up because I’ve run out of….”

As you move forward in the coming year, make sure everyone in your organization focuses on service quality, as well as a personal commitment to do the job right. You should do the same. Give each customer the time and attention they deserve. And remember, service doesn’t happen after the sale. It starts the moment the telephone is answered. First impressions are critical; a prospective customer will decide if he or she wishes to continue a relationship during the first 30 seconds of a phone call. This is determined by how soon the phone was answered, a pleasant greeting and a display of overall concern.

Meeting and exceeding each customer’s expectations applies to salespeople as well. Sales inspectors can talk non-stop about our company’s quality service, but when a price quote is given over the phone, a poor inspection is made or an appointment missed, we are failing to meet the customer’s expectation. Our customers instinctively question our sincerity, sense of urgency, competency and respect. The six customer expectations I’ve described in this article apply to all areas of responsibility within any pest control company.

Don’t set your goals to meet minimum customer expectation levels. Don’t vaguely set your goals to be the best in your particular marketplace because each marketplace and customer is different. It’s up to each of us to raise the market standard, to make the customer say, “Wow, it’s great to do business with (insert your company name here).”

How can we — as an industry — collectively achieve this goal? We can achieve this goal by successfully meeting — and exceeding — these customer expectations.

The author is vice president of sales and service for Cook’s Pest Control, Decatur, Ala.