Nevers & Always

December 10, 2015 -  By

If you own or run a landscape or lawn care business, you likely have a knack for customer service. You wouldn’t be here, reading LM right now, if you didn’t. That’s why it may be difficult for you to understand why employees don’t come to work with the same mindset you do.

Dave Murray, a customer experience consultant for Cleveland-based The DiJulius Group, says several elements contribute to a person’s service aptitude. Murray was the (outstanding) workshop presenter at the LM Lawn Care Forum last month in Orlando. He defines service aptitude as a person’s ability to recognize opportunities to exceed a customer’s expectation, regardless of circumstances.

There are three main factors, including:

  1. Previous life experiences;
  2. Previous work experiences; and
  3. Current work experiences.

You have zero influence over the first two things on the list, but you’re certainly in a position to affect No. 3. And Murray makes it clear that excellent customer service starts at the top. That’s why your team needs to understand your vision for your company’s service culture. In most cases, the most recently hired, least trained, lowest paid employees are the ones who deal with customers the most. They need your guidance.

For starters, he suggests developing a short list of your company’s “always” and “nevers.” He calls these principles the “burden of the brand.” Your list might include: “always offer a friendly greeting,” “always make it easy to be a customer,” “never prioritize tasks over customers” or “never view customers as an interruption.”

He urges companies to throw policies out the window and offer guidelines instead. Guidelines empower your employees; policies hinder them.

“Too often, good employees are doing things that don’t make a lot of sense for customers,” Murray says.

It’s also important to note employees often don’t understand the customer’s viewpoint, he says. For example, they might not be married with kids or homeowners, like many of your clients. Or they may be busy getting the job done and forget the customer is just a regular person who could be having a bad day.

Murray followed up this point by playing a training video Chick-fil-A shows all employees before they ever get in front of a customer. You may find it over the top for a fast food restaurant, but it’s worth watching. The company says it created the video, called “Every Life Has a Story,” to “remind us that everyone we interact with is a chance to create a remarkable experience.”

Do your employees think about your customers that way? Just as importantly, do you think about your employees that way? It’s easy to forget employees are our internal clients. They need good customer service, too.

As Murray says,“Your customers will never be any happier than your employees are.”

Marisa Palmieri

About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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