Don’t call us, we’ll call you

June 26, 2019 -  By
Hand with phone (Photo: iStock.com/janulla)

Photo: iStock.com/janulla

If you grew up listening to the radio in the ’70s like I did, you probably know the Sugarloaf song, “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You.” What you may not know is that this jingle describes a key difference between businesses. You see, there are only two types of businesses. The first type calls the customer. The second type doesn’t — the customer needs to call it. Of course, when I say “call,” what I mean is communicate. Call, text, email or send me a renewal contract in the mail — whatever — it’s all the same to me. This one single point of differentiation informs us about much more than what meets the eye. Let me explain.

Businesses that don’t call the customer are perfectly nice. Some of my own service providers are in this camp. I know that I will need to call them every spring, summer, fall or winter — depending on the service they provide — to be taken care of. I know that if I have a deadline, I need to call them early enough to get into their system. I also know that if I never called them again, they would never call me or probably even realize I stopped calling them.

Why wouldn’t they ever call me? After all, I’ve been a loyal customer, and my service needs are extremely predictable. Don’t they care? In my experience, it’s not that they don’t care. It’s that they are too busy. They would love to proactively reach out to me, but they are so busy with a million other things, they just never find time. So, I have to call them. By the way, being “busy with a million other things” is an indication of a struggling business bogged down in daily drama and putting out fires. I’ll call them until I find another service provider who has time to call me.

My irrigation contractor falls into this category. It employs some of the nicest people in the world. It mails me a renewal sheet every winter. I sign it and mail it back right away. But I need to call to get on the schedule for startup and winterization. If I didn’t call it, I would never get serviced, despite the company having my account history, email address and cellphone number.

Businesses that call the customer are able to do so because they understand how important the customer experience is, and they have invested in systems to deliver a great experience to the customer. My best service providers have put very simple systems in place to keep me informed, scheduled and to take my money. They have made it so easy to do business with them that I would never make a change. They have me locked in for life.

Early in my career, I worked for a landscape contracting business that took great pride in providing outstanding customer experiences. Every phone call coming into our business was tracked, and every call from a current customer was scrutinized to get to the heart of the issue that prompted them to have to call the office. In other words, if a customer was calling, someone dropped the ball. I love this approach. It’s the right approach to a having a successful service business.

Another service provider does our lawn maintenance in the summer and our snow and ice removal in the winter. We have never had to call it unless we want to change our services. Our credit card is automatically charged for the same monthly amount all year long, unless we change the contract. That company is professional, efficient and affordable. Unlike my irrigation company, I never have to think about my outdoor maintenance. It’s just handled.

If your customers have to call you, let me ask you a few questions. What is more important than your customers? Aren’t there a variety of technological solutions available today to make it easy to communicate with other people? What is holding you back from addressing this missed opportunity in your business model? I encourage you to really dig into this area and get out in front of your clients. You may just gain some customers for life.

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Phil Harwood headshot

About the Author:

Harwood is a Managing Partner with GrowTheBench and Pro-Motion Consulting. Reach him at Phil@GrowTheBench.com. He is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager, NALP Trailblazer, NALP Consultant, and Certified Snow Professional. Harwood holds a BA in Marketing and Executive MBA with Honors from Michigan State University.

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