A Follow-up Turns Good Service Into Great Service

Actively seeking feedback from customers can increase the three R’s: reputation, rewards and rapport
A Follow-up Turns Good Service Into Great Service
If you’re not following up with your customers on a regular basis, you may be missing out on valuable information that could improve your customer service.

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Your toilet paper could be softer. … Your units are always placed too close to my building. … Your employees are always very friendly. … Wait, what? A compliment?

These are all examples of feedback ­­– complaints and compliments – you might be missing if you’re not following up with your customers on a regular basis. It’s just one part of doing business that can reap the three R’s: reputation, rewards and rapport.

“You don’t want to just know about problems,” says Karleen Kos, executive director of the Portable Sanitation Association International (PSAI). “You want to know what you are doing well that people value.”

But portable restroom operators may often miss a lot of helpful suggestions and possible issues if they don’t have a follow-up system – formalized or more casual – in place.

For Tammy Kennedy, owner of Tanks Alot/Conroe Chem Can in Tomball, Texas, the follow-up is more informal. “I always make a phone call once I get confirmation from my delivery man that units are on site. I introduce myself as owner and let them know what day their unit will be serviced each week.

“I also give them my name, contact number and email address and let them know to feel free to contact me with any questions, suggestions or issues.”

For Kennedy, it’s a small but essential step, and she does see the value. “[Customers] like this a lot.”

Make it part of your SOP

Companies both large and small could benefit from having some follow-up with their customers, even long-term ones. In fact, follow-up should be standard operating procedure (SOP) for portable restroom operators. It’s all about getting useful data from your customers, says Kos.

For example, she says, even asking simple questions on the phone, online or via a paper survey is important. A rating scale of 1 to 10 might be helpful. She suggests questions like, “Based on your experience with us, how likely are you to recommend us to a customer similar to you?” and “What’s the most important reason you gave us this rating?”

Such questions could be listed on an invoice where they are readily seen.

Such feedback can offer both qualitative and quantitative data. “Squeaky wheels get the grease,” Kos admits. “Let’s say you have three customers who are loud and complaining that they hate blue deodorizer; you’re probably going to act on that.” But you may never find out what your customers don’t like if you don’t ask the questions.

“When you rely on your personal experience and you’re not formalizing [your follow-up process], you don’t have a good sense of what’s real and what isn’t,” Kos says.

She admits, of course, that the size of the company often affects follow-up. “Bigger companies have a feedback system built into their regular operations,” she notes. “It’s part of their SOP.

“When you’re small and growing or, worse, small and not growing, your resources tend to be stretched,” Kos adds. Things that don’t immediately provide revenue, or do so in a more intangible way, are harder to get around to. Owners might think, “I’m small, I’ve got my fingers on the pulse."

“It’s important … to not discount that personal touch. … When you get bigger, maybe that can get lost,” she points out.

But owners might also overlook the fact that “personal touch” might mean the customer has a connection with the driver, and not necessarily the owner or the company itself.

One thing small-business owners, as well as larger companies, should keep in mind is that customer satisfaction should always be in the back of their mind. It can be either passive (customer initiated) or active (company initiated). In the latter, a company is proactive about soliciting feedback.

But even more important than simply gathering feedback and initiating follow-up is acting on the comments. Not every complaint will be legitimate, obviously, but if scores of customers are noting a problem, say, with timeliness, it might be worth looking into a little more closely. After all, what good is feedback if it is ignored out of hand?

Even if you think you have a solid connection with your customers, that “personal touch,” it’s worth re-examining your feedback  and follow-up procedures to determine what you could be doing differently. Do so, and you may reap the three R’s – reputation, rewards and rapport. Sure, they’re intangible assets, but they’re ones every successful business desires.


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