I have a question for you. When you are traveling and you are in an unfamiliar town or city, where do you eat?
Are you the free spirit type that always chooses a local restaurant or do you go to a restaurant that you are familiar with and know?
Research shows that you most likely to go to a restaurant that you know. Why is that?
Harry Beckwith in his remarkable book “Selling the Invisible” describes this phenomenon in detail. He makes the point that research study after research study proves that:
People crave consistency more than they crave a phenomenal experience.
Does that make any sense to you? Of course, this defies logic, but if we lived a logical world the stock market would never go down and most attorneys would be out of a job.
Think for just a moment about what your customers really crave. Have you ever had the experience of changing a route technician and having a customer call up and cancel?
When you pressed for the reason of the cancellation the response was “Well Daniel doesn’t do what Billy use to do”. What does that feedback tell you?
When most people hear a statement like that, they will immediately lambaste the outgoing tech and say something to the effect “well the new technician is better than the old one”. The problem with that response is that no matter what, your company loses. Allow me to explain.
The two questions that need to be examined in this situation are:
- Are you really giving the customer what he or she really wants?
- What is that customer really telling you?
Are you really giving the customer what he or she really wants?
The answer should be obvious. NO!
Lets go back to the restaurant example. The reason that you choose to eat fast food (even though you may not really like it) is because you know what to expect. Imagine just for a moment that you went to a Burger King in your hometown, ordered a whopper and it came with fries sometimes and other times not. On the times when you got no fries, would you be upset? Most likely yes. You never really know what to expect from that Burger King.
Your customers are no different. If your technicians are not performing the exact same service each and every time they visit a customer’s property, ultimately your business is playing a game that it cannot win.
It does not matter if the new incoming technician provides a “phenomenal” service. It does not matter if the previous technician was an absolute dirt bag who did nothing right. You are now not providing what the customer wants. A consistent service. Your company loses no matter what! You are not providing a consistent service.
So, what is the customer really telling you?
What your customer is really telling you is that they don’t like that when they get service from Billy that they get the fries but when they get service from Daniel they don’t get any fries. They don’t like that they have no idea what to expect when your company shows up at their home.
Essentially your customer is telling you (in a nice way):
“Your systems stink. I cannot trust you to give me consistency (even if sometimes I get phenomenal service). I am going to take my business to a company that can give me consistency so I know what to expect when you come to my home (even if that means that I will get less for my money).”
What you should be thinking at this point is:
“I need to have procedures and checklists in place so that my technicians can provide good consistent service each and every time they service a home.”
The reason McDonalds, Burger King and other franchise establishments continue to keep and get new customers is that they are consistent. Of course, there are a lot of other factors, but this is the main one. Think about it. Have you ever seen the charts/checklists that are displayed over the food preparation tables at these restaurants? If billion-dollar companies need this level of detail, do you think that it is a good idea to implement in your business?
So, what can you do about it?
The reality here is that if you have more than one employee (other than yourself) and you don’t have standards, procedures and checklists then your company is providing inconsistent service. I realize that is a bold statement, but I say it with confidence (because it is impossible to do so without procedures, checklists and standards).
The answer is to simply start thinking through your service and what the best practices are. Once you identify those, start writing procedures. Typically, the easiest systems to define and document are your front line systems. E.g. technicians, customer service reps, etc, etc… If you are completely lost (or overwhelmed) on how to do this then you can always use ServiceNet™. ServiceNet has sample procedures that you can use to get started and provides a cloud-based solution for all of your critical company documents.
Implementing standardized procedures, checklists and operations is not an easy task in any business. It takes a lot of thinking, planning and execution to actually pull it off. Even after you go through the process of defining and documenting what those procedures are, you have to train and enforce those procedures throughout your organization.
The fact of the matter is that any type of standardization attempts will ultimately fail if the owner and managers are not committed to it.
While it is hard to put an exact dollar amount on how much having standards will help you grow and be more profitable, I can tell you that since we went through this at Triangle Pest Control the following has happened:
- I am not on the phone nearly as often with upset customers concerning our service
- Our cancellation rate has decreased by 10%
- We can train our technicians much faster because we have written procedures to train them from
- Our customer service scores went from 88% to over 96% in one year
- We can objectively inspect our technicians in the field and use that data for feedback in reviews
- We can very easily identify problems and solve them with the use of systems (E.g. we are becoming an experienced company, not a company that experiences the same year multiple times)
At the end of the day, it really comes down to this one point. That is, if you choose where to eat based on consistent service (like McDonalds or Olive Garden), don’t you think your customers want the same thing?
The only question is, are you willing to do what it takes to grow your company and be more profitable?