Monday, April 23, 2007

What Would TwoMaids Have Done?

Take a look at this story about a customer in Illinois complaining to the local paper about her recent service from a maid service.

It all started when the customer called to set up a monthly housecleaning. It started getting bad when the maids were late. It started getting even worse when the maids didn't do what the customer thought they should be doing. And it got real bad when the maid service said, "shut up, we're right and you're wrong".

Now the maid service didn't really say those words. But they might as well. Here's the statement from the maid service....

"The owner said this was one of her most experienced crews. She also said that the customer didn't want a free in-home estimate which the company offers to get a better idea of how much work is involved."

The owner continued on, "She's so convinced her crew did a thorough job that they're willing to take a lie detector test. She says she's proud of her business, which unlike some cleaning services pays Social Security taxes, workers comp and unemployment insurance on its crews."

Ok, lets start from the beginning.

Problem #1
The maid service was supposed to arrive between 2-4 PM. But they were running late and they didn't call to inform the customer. The customer had to call after they didn't show up during the scheduled time. Being late is one thing. But not informing your customer about your problem is even worse. So the customer rescheduled the cleaning to the next day because the maid service had said that it would be 5:30 before they could arrive. Talk about bad first impressions. WOW!

The maid service indicates that they didn't budget their time properly because an in-home estimate wasn't conducted initially. That's no excuse. The maid service could have done what we do. If you can't see the house, then you need to educate the customer about your service offerings. Talk to the customer about each type of cleaning. Talk to them about your limitations. And be honest with them. Let them know that the price you're quoting is an estimate made over the phone. Here's how we explain it....

Let's say you live in a 2000 sq. ft. home and your neighbor's house is similar in size. You have five people living in your home while your neighbor has only two people. That description by itself would lead us to believe that your house requires extra time. However, what if the neighbor has lots of collectibles. What if the neighbor doesn't maintain their home in the same manner as you do? All sorts of variables determine the time required to clean your house. Size and number of people are important. But there are plenty of other things that can determine cleaning time. And you don't see those things until you walk in the front door.

So, the maid service should have spent more time with customer. Don't just set up the appointment and say "see ya soon".

Problem #3
The maid service really didn't seem to care about the customer. To make matters worse, the maid service didn't seem to care even when they found out that the local paper was investigating the situation. Talk about bad publicity. An upset customer has to know that you're listening. In this case, the maid service basically just said to be quiet. You're wrong and we're right. We would have never let it get this far.

First of all, we would have called her before she called us because we do that every day. Our employees get paid based on customer feedback. Secondly, we would have listened to her complaints. Third, we would have visited the home if the customer allowed the visit. And finally, we would have done something to make this customer happy. It could have been that we just finished the job. It could have been that we started over from scratch in her home. And it could have been that we simply gave the customer her money back. Basically, we would have done whatever the customer told us to do.

So here's our recipe. Show up on time. Educate the customer before arrival. Listen to the customer if you don't meet her expectations. Do what the customer says after you've finished listening.

Follow this recipe and your poor customer service story doesn't get published in the 2nd largest paper in Chicago.

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