In any business, meeting customer expectations is key to success. When your customer wants something, and you can deliver it without them asking, they’re impressed, more likely to view your business favorably, and more likely to keep working with you.
It’s true that you can set expectations to some degree. For example, you can tell a customer how long their grass seed will take to grow, what your services will cost, or when they’ll probably need their lawn aerated again. Setting these expectations will help keep your customer happy.
However, there are some customer expectations that are so basic of all landscaping companies that you can’t change them. Once you see what they are, we think you won’t want to change them either. All you need to do is make sure that all of your staff members are meeting those expectations as much as possible. Here’s what people want from your landscaping company and how you can better meet those expectations.
1. Arrive On Time
You have a service contract with your customer that specifies when you’ll be arriving to maintain their yard or perform other work. Customers expect you to arrive on time, every time. Just think about it from their perspective, they may plan their day or their outdoor activities around your work. If you arrive late, or even early, you may interfere with your plans.
When you are late it is especially inconvenient for those who are home while you work. As you work outside, you may not realize how challenging this is for those who work from home or who are caring for young children, to plan to have loud equipment working just beyond their window.
What should you do if you have no choice but to be late? When you can, inform your customer ahead of time that you’ll be late. Try not to pass the buck onto your employees, knowing that your customers expect you to plan for contingencies like sick days and emergencies. Say when you will arrive, or when you will call them back with a new time.
2. Simple Payment
Long gone are the days of customers having cash on hand. Customers expect that you will take some kind of card or digital payment. You can use a business software tool to email your customers an invoice and allow them to pay it right there. Or, you can bring along a payment method that accepts debit or credit. We know it can be tough to handle the transaction fees that point of sale companies and credit card companies can charge. However, it’s an expectation of your customers.
Simple payment processes aren’t just great for the customer. The easier you can make it for your customers to pay, the fast they will pay you. When your customers pay quickly you have a healthier cash flow, which makes it easier to run virtually every aspect of your business from buying supplies to paying your staff.
3. Fulfill Service Terms
It is a basic expectation of customers of every business that the business fulfills the terms of their contract and, more generally, do what they say they will. While you likely have the best of intentions to provide all of the services and products that your customers agree to pay for. However, sometimes things get a little murky. Simple miscommunication between your team members can result in providing the wrong plants or the wrong services to your customer. It’s important that you use a system to stay organized and prevent these problems from happening.
Another issue might be staff compliance. Let’s say that you have a policy to always check in with the customer after you’ve trimmed their bushes, to make sure that they are happy with the shape. Some staff may follow this rule happily, while others may decide not to do it. This may frustrate customers who expect simple procedures to be followed all the time. In this case. Staff training and sometimes discipline can help.
4. Don’t Charge Hidden Costs
When you give out an estimate, customers expect that this is the exact price that they will pay. If they see a difference between their final bill and the estimate, then they may be unwilling to pay at all. You can avoid this common headache by including everything that you’ll be charging on that initial invoice. That includes fees and even tax (as surprising as it may seem from your perspective, some customers will forget about it).
While it may seem like a customer understands that you’ll be applying an extra fee for, let’s say, the condition of their soil or the extra-mature trees you’ve brought for them, often they assume that the fee is baked into the main price you quote them. Having it in writing helps prevent any misunderstandings.
5. Be Open to Feedback
Sometimes it’s hard to hear customers recommend the same thing to you over and over again. Customers suggest that you should offer new services that you know wouldn’t be profitable. Or, they ask you to fundamentally change your business model in a way that just can’t work for you. You may start to reject customer feedback even before you really hear it.
However, it is important to be open to feedback. Appear friendly and positive, as if it is the first time you’re hearing these recommendations so that your customer knows that you care about their input. Sometimes, listening to their input can help you understand why customers keep suggesting this, which can help you find a new solution.
6. Basic Kindness and Consideration
Lastly, everyone expects that you treat them with basic respect, and especially when they are your customer. Make sure that all of your staff will treat every customer well, even when there is conflict or when they are having a bad day.
What can you do to make meeting these customer expectations easier? Arborgold software can help you stay organized and focused, so you, your customers and your staff are always on the same page. Check out our tour here.