Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Customer Service Addict Listens

Habit #2 - Have you ever been involved in a conversation with a friend and found yourself thinking about another issue? Well, your neighborhood Customer Service Addict (CSA) has never found himself in that position. Ask his friends, family, or customers. When you speak, he listens. Why is listening so important?

Listening allows your CSA the opportunity to make you feel important. You are the center of his attention. Your problems are his problems. He doesn't just hear you, he listens to you!

Listening to someone is a very simple task. The funny thing is that not many people are good at it. We're all too busy to worry about someone else's problems. Effective listening separates a good friend from a bad friend. Of course, it also separates a good business from a bad business.

Are you listening yet?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Seven Habits of a Customer Service Addict

Habit #1 - A Customer Service Addict (CSA) smiles during a bad day. Nobody ever knows when a CSA is having a bad day. The sky is falling and the world has exploded, yet your neighborhood CSA is still smiling. His job is to make you happy and that job begins with a simple smile. Smiling makes other people smile.

There's six more habits to explore. Check back later for more details on the your neighborhood CSA.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Did This Really Happen?

I sat down this morning ready to enjoy a good breakfast from a local restaurant. It had been a long week and my reward was an unhealthy waffle and eggs. I couldn't wait. Apparently, my waitress had other ideas. It began very innocently. She said "Hello, can I take you order?". My order wasn't much different from what the menu offered, but I did ask for my eggs to be cooked "over well". My waitress proceeded to begin laughing at my order and then even rolling her eyes. She barked out my order and she could hardly keep a straight face as she was yelling my order across the restaurant. My waitress must have been in amazement because she began shaking her head after the cook heard the order. I thought that I was in Customer Service Hell! I had to know what was so funny, so I asked her. She said, "Oh nothing, I can't laugh every now and then?" She walked away to a nearby table and asked those people if it was alright for her to laugh because some people said that laughing is a bad thing. At this point, I'd had enough. I walked out and left the building disgusted. I'll be back because I know that this is an isolated event, but this business is on my watch list now. Another visit to Customer Service Hell and I'm walking.

It was a complete disaster and one that I hope my employees never repeat. As I walked away in disbelief I thought, "did this really happen?"

I still don't understand the joke, but I do know that I was the punch line. As a general rule, don't make your customers feel as if they are a punch line in a secret joke!

Friday, June 24, 2005

I Have A Problem

I like to make people happy. Making people happy makes me happy. I don't want to dissapoint any of our customers ever. I'm serious! My goal is to have 100% customer satisfaction. My problem is that being perfect is impossible. I tell myself that everyday, but I never listen.

We clean about 150 homes per week and the majority of people are extremely pleased. In baseball, a 30% career batting average gets you into the Hall of Fame. In business, that puts you out of business. We measure our customer satisfaction on a scale from one to five. Each of our customers know that their ratings not only tell us when there is a problem, but their ratings are also used to calculate pay rates for our employees. Our weekly cleaning average is just over 4.6 for the last four weeks. That means that we have a 92% customer satisfaction rating for the last month. Not bad, but definitely not perfect.

We receive about two complaints per day. To compare, we receive about twenty-five compliments per day. I love the compliments, but those two complaints stay with me all night. What could we have done better? Did we act professionally? Can we do something else to prove that we care about their level of satisfaction? Calgon, take me away!

They say that the road to recovery is to first admit that you have a problem.

I have a problem: I am a customer service addict.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Housecleaning is Just Like Air Travel

People fly everyday from coast to coast. There are thousands of flights that take off every hour from different cities across the country. An airport has hundreds of people employed to ensure our safety and comfort. An airplane cost millions of dollars to manufacture and thousands of dollars to maintain on a daily basis. Yet, most people select an airline based on either price or customer service. Think about that, flying from New York City to Los Angeles is based on a few dollars or a sincere flight attendant. Safety is an afterthought. Flying above the clouds is now a commodity and air travel is just like housecleaning!

Some people select a housecleaning service based strictly on price. In our business, it's easy to be the most affordable because the barriers of entry are relatively low. Buy some supplies and you're in business. This works for some consumers because their level of expectation is low.

Our customers select us because they want great customer service. They expect us to arrive on-time, they expect a clean house, and they expect us to bend over backwards if a mistake occurs. That's our customers and we love them. We know that they appreciate our efforts and that a low-ball competitor is not going to drive them away.

Flying isn't easy and neither is housecleaning. However, the companies that make it look easy are the ones that prosper. I hope that we make it look easy.

Monday, June 20, 2005

A Maid is a Maid is a Maid

A quote in a recent newspaper article compared maids to day-laborers. Is this what people really think about our industry?

In my mind, a day-laborer is just that. They perform any type of untrained labor for a day's worth of compensation. They go to sleep and perform a different set of tasks the next day.

I realize that we aren't saving lives or solving world peace. But, I think that we are important to our customers. We allow families to have fun together again and we perform tasks for people that aren't physically possible any longer. We make lives better.

The question that solves this quandry is: Would you hire a day-laborer to clean your house?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Steve Jobs on Life

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, gave a commencement speech to graduates of Stanford University recently. Thanks to Seth Godin (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/) for the link.

Click on the link:
http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

People Like People That Try

Have you ever noticed that service companies are notorious for providing bad customer service? How many of you have waited hours for the cable company to show up? How many of you have waited a half-hour for a five-minute oil change? How many of you have received the wrong order at a restaurant?

People do things wrong all the time. Mistakes happen. What makes a mistake turn into bad customer service? Attitude.

Did the cable company call and inform you of their late arrival? Did the mechanic inform you that multiple cars arrived at the same time and the oil change may take longer than five minutes? Did the waitress write down the order or did she "remember" it in her head?

People will forgive mistakes as long as they feel like you are trying to satisfy their needs. We know that we aren't perfect. Goodness, we make mistakes every single day. However, it isn't because we don't care. Our customers know that we work harder than anybody else to control and correct our mistakes. That's the difference between us and everybody else.

People like us because we try!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Customer No-Service

I can't imagine a better illustration of poor organization leading to terrible customer service.

http://www.nationnews.com/story/287962089293725.php

Customer service starts at the top. If management isn't concerned about satisfying customers, then employees won't be concerned either. A company's culture is defined by its leaders.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Future of Housecleaning?

Is this what we can we look forward to in the future? http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,120267,00.asp

I can't see this ever becoming a reality, but then again I'm sure most people never believed that we would ever fly above the clouds, drive coast to coast, or push a button to clean our oven. Crazier things have been invented, for sure!

In the meantime, we'll keep trying to perfect the art of housecleaning by humans.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Secret to Never Getting Old

Uhhh?? Impossible, you say? You're wrong. People may age, but no one needs to get "old". Getting old means your best days are behind you. Getting old means that your future has limits. Getting old means you think you're old.

Dreams were never really meant to be accomplished. Dreams are meant for people that need a goal to strive for. My dream is for Two Maids & A Mop to become the premier housecleaning company in the southeastern US. To reach that goal, I'll need to accomplish hundreds of small, little goals along the way. It won't be easy, but I can promise you that I am going to enjoy it. I love the challenge and I welcome it. I wake up everyday ready for another set of challenges to conquer.

I wonder sometimes how different my life would be without this challenge. Would I mirror the old Dunkin' Donuts commercial, "Time to do the Donuts"? A life without challenges means no goals to accomplish, no dreams to wish for. Basically, it means that you're getting old.

Start dreaming and thinking big. Make life fun.