How Does Your Customer Service Measure Up?

Frank Blau
Contributing Writer

Gauging what customers think of you is a fundamental business duty. ShuBee® Report Card is printed on perforated postcard stock, enabling the customer to tear it our and drop it in the mail. The backside is a postage-paid self-mailer. This makes it simple for customers to respond.

We generally receive between 125-150 of these replies each month, about 5{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f} of our total customer calls. They help us monitor the job done by our telephone service employees, as well as tell us things every businessperson ought to know about his/her firm. By reading between the lines you also extract useful information about customer psychology.

Here’s a summary of some of the more important things we find out

Price Vs. Value: Note the section that asks whether the service charge was “More than expected…about right…less than expected”

We have never claimed to be the lowest priced shop in town. This is reflected in the fact that in the course of a year some 44{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f} of respondents say our prices are “more than expected,” compared with the 52{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f} who say “about right” and 3{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f} “less than expected.”

Many people think that when almost half your customers say your prices are more than expected, your business is doomed. However, not the responses we get to the next key inquiry – “Would you use Blau again?” Last year 87{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f} of respondents said YES, only 4{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f} NO, and 9{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f} “maybe.”

“My aching VISA card!” wrote one customer, who checked that the price was “more than expected” and “maybe” on whether he’d use us again. “Too expensive!” went another.

We get quite a few cards where people check that we charge more than expected, but check YES for whether they’d use us again. This defies many people’s expectations. To me, it shows that people are will to pay a little more if they get good, friendly service.


Service With A Smile: “I give Steve A-plus. I would ask for him again.” Wrote one respondent. “My service man was excellent. Thank you for prompt service…Technician Larry Geurtsen was very thorough and provided excellent service…”

So went some more recent responses. Note the tendency of Blau customers pay attention to their service tech’s name. We encourage our people to “schmooze” with customers. That is, be friendly, engage in conversation; treat them like human beings, not just money objects.

It is my observation that if you give good service and try to be nice to people, they won’t challenge a higher price. “Thanks for coming out so quickly,” wrote one customer. “Would like to thank Blau for prompt consideration.” We get a lot of people commenting about how quickly we respond to calls for service. I get the feeling it’s a reaction to typical experiences with service firms that show up hours after the time they said, if at all.

Handling Complaints: We almost never get any complaints about employee appearance. It is company policy for our service techs to be neat and clean, and we enforce it.

About 1-2{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f} of the cards we get have complaints about poor work performance or attitude on the part of our phone representatives or field technicians. That’s not a lot, but we make it a point to call each of these customers asking what we can do to make things better. We also question the employee for his/her version of events.

Most of the time it’s a minor misunderstanding. For instance, one customer recently complained about “Phone rep somewhat pushy. Started out calling for inquiry. Felt coerced into using Blau.”

That was probably due to our policy of immediately asking people for their phone numbers when they call. Our phone reps key this into our dispatching computer work history, or establish one if it’s a new account. I can see where this might come across as too abrupt or “pushy.” This is why we instruct our phone reps to “schmooze” or chat with customers while they collect information.

However, the same customer who complained about our “pushy” phone rep also took time to jot down that “Mickey was friendly and knowledgeable. He respected my property and attempted to pick up after himself. Neater than many service men.” Oh and this customer also wrote, “Prices high,” but “maybe” would use us again.

For customers who are really upset about something, we will send a gift certificate to a local restaurant. Doing this brings them from thinking we are first-class jerks to okay folks.

• People are People: We market our standard job tickets, including the customer response card, to other contractors around the country.

What I have found out from people who use them is a substantial similarity in the customer responses. Just about everyone finds 40-50{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f} of customers responding that the prices are “more than expected.” Likewise, close to nine out of 10 indicate they nonetheless would use the firm again.

I keep hearing from contractors around the country that they could never get away with the things we do here in Milwaukee. “People are different around here, Frank.”

The results just cited tell me just the opposite. People are pretty much the same everywhere. They want to be treated decently and given good service. If they are, they’ll patronize your firm, even if your price is “more than expected.”

Tracking Business: The ShuBee® Report Card also tracks where calls come from. On average about 38{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f} of our calls came in response to marketing we’ve done, 54{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f} from repeat customers and 7{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f} from referrals.

Incidentally, I offer that 54{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f} repeat business as an answer to my critics who accuse me of being a gouger or cheat. Would that many people continue to patronize us if we didn’t give them good value for their money?

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