Understanding Your Business Will Have Customer Loss
Losing a customer is inevitable in business and if you haven’t lost one yet, you certainly will. And losing ONLY one would be a miracle (depending of course on the size of your lawn and landscape business). There’s various reasons why customers fire you. Sometimes it’s about the quality of the job and sometimes it is not.
You can be the most professional service with the best equipment and best crews and still you WILL lose customers. This is about what we can all do to keep customers around as long as we can and what to do once we do lose a customer. At the end of the day a customer firing you can turn into a learning experience that can benefit your business in the long run.
The Blame Game
One of the most common things I hear in the lawn and landscape industry when a company loses a customer is that another company stole their account. They blame the other company for stealing the customer. That is something you need to stop doing if you are serious about running your business. Simply, that is childlike behavior.
These same businesses refuse to look in the mirror at what they could have done better. How could you have served that client in a better way? Better communication, better service and setting expectations are just a few of the areas you maybe could have done better. When a customer fires you you can either blame your competitor and continue making the same mistakes that caused you to lose that customer, or you can figure out what you did and fix it.
Figuring out exactly what you did can be tough to listen to at first because you may not think it’s a problem, they may be blowing the situation out of proportion, or maybe you really did do something wrong and you hate to hear it. Regardless, you have to get that feedback and actually examine what to do to improve.
You can send an email that has an internal review sheet (only you will see it) and the customer can tell you how they really felt about their experience. A phone call can work but some people may be hesitant to share their true feelings and go into detail on the phone. Whatever you choose, just make sure you’re collecting, analyzing, and utilizing that information.
The Importance of Customer Service
How was your customer service? You may have completed the job perfectly, but did you respond in a timely fashion when the client had a question or comment? There are a million small things that you can do or not do that cause the client to feel like a VIP or like just another customer. One of the biggest reasons you will get fired is a lack of communication, so what do you have set up?
HOW you communicate can also be a big customer service issue. If the customer feels like you have a bad attitude about talking to them or rush them off the phone, that will begin to harm the relationship. Communication is just one area that can cause a bad customer service experience. Like my dad used to say, it is the service after the job is sold that consummates the relationship. Making people feel like you care about their experience is a great way to build loyalty.
Learning from Lost Customers
If you do lose a customer for whatever reason, don’t just let that opportunity for learning what you could have done better slip away. If the relationship ends in a cordial way, you can send them a questionnaire that they fill out that gives you feedback on what you can improve on. Make sure you are open to this feedback or getting it is irrelevant.
The Power of Questionnaires
You don’t have to wait to send out these questionnaires, you can send them out at the end/beginning of each season and ask your current customers what they liked and didn’t like about your service. You can also do your best during the season to make sure clients are happy. This could be in the form of an automated email after you provide a service whether that be a one time service or an ongoing service.
Implementing this kind of questionnaire allows you to fix something with your existing customers and keep them around for years to come. It also shows that you care about their experience. Sometimes customers will feel uncomfortable giving you negative feedback in person so doing a mailing or electronic survey will give them the freedom to be honest about what they want from you.
Utilizing a questionnaire or survey is a simple and cost-effective way to make sure you’re fixing what you can and capitalize on what you’re already doing well. They also work well when a customer calls in to complain about something that they say has been going on forever. If you keep these reviews on file, you can reference them and say “Well Mr. Smith I’m sorry you’re having this experience but according to your review, you rated us excellent in all categories and left no negative comments.”
This isn’t a way to antagonize your customer, it’s a way to create an open dialogue and try to figure out what the real problem is and then solve it for that customer to continue building that relationship in the right direction.
Moving Forward After Losing a Customer
Losing a customer doesn’t have to be the end of the world and it doesn’t have to become a blame game either. Don’t sit around pointing fingers at the competition for “stealing” your customer because at the end of the day, every customer is a temporary stop for your business.
Whether that be 25 years or 25 minutes, every customer will eventually leave your business whether that’s a service issue or a they die or move away. Regardless of your market, there are plenty more potential customers out there. The important thing is to figure out why you lost them and fix it if it is something fixable and move on to the next one. When we do this we become a better, more professional business and more professional industry that isn’t petty and filled with ill-will towards one another.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I lose customers in my lawn and landscape business?
Losing customers is a part of any business, including lawn and landscape. This can be due to various reasons such as the quality of the job, communication, customer service, wrong niche, or other factors. The key is to learn from these experiences and improve your services to retain customers for as long as possible.
What should I do when I lose a customer to a competitor?
Instead of blaming the competitor, it’s important to reflect on what could have been done better. This could involve improving communication, service quality, or setting expectations. Use the experience as a learning opportunity to make necessary improvements.Utilizing an exit survey can also help you learn what you can improve on.
How can I improve my customer service in the lawn and landscape business?
Timely and effective communication is key to excellent customer service. Make your clients feel valued and important. Respond promptly to their queries and make them feel like a VIP. Remember, it’s the service after the job is sold that strengthens the relationship.
How can I learn from lost customers?
If a customer decides to leave, use this as an opportunity to learn and improve. You can send them a questionnaire to get feedback on what could be improved. Be open to this feedback and use it to enhance your services. When a customer does leave, remember to make them feel comfortable about calling you back in the future as long as the customer was a good fit for your business.
What is the importance of questionnaires in customer retention?
Questionnaires can be a powerful tool for understanding your customers’ likes and dislikes as well as their wants and needs. They allow you to fix issues with your existing customers and show that you care about their experience. They can also provide a platform for customers to express their concerns honestly without feeling pressured or awkward about giving you negative feedback in person or over the phone. These surveys can be done by email or you can choose to mail it.
How can I use questionnaires effectively in my lawn and landscape business?
You can send questionnaires at different parts of each season to get feedback from your current customers. It can be helpful to send them out at the end of each season and then including maybe 1 more early on in the season as well. These early season surveys can be an opportunity to catch issues before they cause major problems. This proactive approach can help you retain customers for years to come.
What should I do after losing a customer?
Losing a customer doesn’t have to be a major setback. Instead of blaming others and getting down on yourself, focus on understanding why you lost them and make necessary improvements. Remember, there are plenty more potential customers out there. The goal is to become a better, more professional business.