How to Deliver the Customer Experience

People are buying an Experience, not just a Patio

I recently read a blog post about how corporate executives still don’t “get” Customer Experience. The point the author was making is that executives have more of a reactive approach to customer service than an actual plan to deliver a positive customer experience.

As much as the term Customer Service has become synonymous with elevator music-phone call waiting-serenades, scripted overseas help lines and chat-bots, the term Customer Experience seems to have become the new buzz term for business executives. For us, however, delivering the customer experience is a core principle of our business.

When I started Breckenridge Landscape I wanted to establish a company based on giving my customers an overall great experience. Installing a beautiful landscape for our clients just isn’t enough anymore. What’s the use in having a brand new paver patio and fireplace if the whole process in getting it done was riddled with delays and problems?

People remember and refer our company based on the experience they had and the convenience of the process, more than they will refer us simply based on the finished product itself.

With referrals being the holy grail of sales leads, it is imperative that we compel our clients to become our brand ambassadors. This means that delivering an experience that clients will remember and rave about must be a proactive process that every employee participates in.

So how do we do that here at Breckenridge Landscape? Here are a few insights in to how we deliver a great customer experience.

We respond to clients immediately.

Every interaction with a client, whether they are voicing a concern or asking for a quote, is an opportunity to impress them.

I have had clients email me at 9pm with a question about a plant and I have responded by 9:15pm. Even if I don’t have the answer to the question, just letting them know that I received their message and I will get back to them, is enough to put their mind at ease.

We communicate with our clients regularly.

Once we have a client engaged, we make sure that they are kept up to date on how their project is progressing. During the design process I will regularly let clients know how the design is coming and when they can expect to hear back from me with the final design.

Once the client has signed a construction contract, we will update them on the schedule weekly and call them a day in advance of the crew arriving so they aren’t surprised by a crew of workers showing up at 7am.

We let our clients know that we appreciate their trust in us.

We all like to feel appreciated and customers are no exception. Whenever I communicate with a client via email or in a phone conversation I am polite, using please and thank you, but I also let them know that I appreciate their business. The important thing is to be genuine. Too often we hear the overseas call center operator from our bank say thank you after every answer as if it was written in a script for them to recite (and it often is). When the “thank you” isn’t genuine it does more harm to the customer experience than saying nothing at all.

We expect all of our employees to participate in delivering a positive customer experience.

The crews that install our clients landscaping projects or maintains their property are the most important sales staff we have. They have more contact and interaction with our clients than I will ever have. Our code of conduct covers our expectations on uniforms, phone usage and timeliness but what it can’t outline is attitude.

Sure, we can have behavior standards on the job site, but in order to deliver the best experience possible, every interaction a client has with a member of our staff has to be a positive one. To achieve this, I as the president of the company must lead by example and the supervisor and foreman must do the same.

When the crew members see me addressing the client’s questions in a positive manner and agreeing to do whatever is necessary to make the client happy, they are compelled to do the same knowing that the company will stand behind their decisions.

Even though the term Customer Experience has been hijacked by marketers and ad agencies looking for ways to avoid the negative connotation of the old Customer Service term, there is no substitute for actually delivering. Slogans will only work to drive new customers to your business for so long, if their actual experience working with you is a negative one, it will be a short lived strategy.

Conversely, giving the client a great experience will net a company much more business through referrals and reputation than any marketing campaign.