Service Excellence goes beyond customer service. It’s a way of working and a way of interacting with customers that promotes higher retention rates. For the Certified Sentricon Specialist™, Service Excellence is a mindset that asks: How can you ensure you will keep customers?
That was the question for David Billingsly, director of operations at American Pest Management in the Washington, D.C., area. Billingsly, who has been with the company for 10 years, has strong feelings about the importance of Service Excellence.
“The short answer is, if we don’t do Service Excellence, someone else will!” Billingsly says. “In our mrket, there is more competition than ever. There are always other companies looking to do a better job than us. Our philosophy at American Pest is to do the simple things, but do the simple things really well. Our team is focused on delivering the highest level of customer service.”
This year, American Pest invested in a formal residential quality control program. One full-time employee has been dedicated to digging deep into quality control (QC) in the field to find out how customers view service and quality. She focuses primarily on the Sentricon® System and audits customers’ homes. An automated system using PestPac software sends homeowners messages to alert them that a QC person is in their area. If the customer is home, she’ll interview the homeowner and explain why she’s on-site. Along with making sure the Sentricon stations are properly loaded with Recruit® HD termite bait, she’ll make sure the technician also is carrying out other aspects of the company’s bundled services.
American Pest’s ultimate question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely would you recommend American Pest to others? The QC person also asks how the technician is doing and what, if anything, the company could do better. An in-person visit is a great opportunity for customer insights. It’s a chance to see what works, what doesn’t and what’s necessary to improve Service Excellence.
American Pest’s mantra is: “Show up when we say we will show up, and do what we say we will do.”
The company’s current retention rate is 89 percent, but employees are making progress to get it above 90 percent. One challenge is that the service area is highly transient with residents moving in, staying for a few years and then moving out.
“To increase retention, it’s important to measure success and manage it,” Billingsly says. “We understand it’s an investment in overhead to add a quality control person to the team. If a company can’t afford that, then at least get back to the basics. Do the simple things really well, manage that and hold your folks accountable.”
Service Excellence is at the core of improving business. Billingsly reminds employees that customers are the reason the business exists, and without them, they have nothing.
“Providing excellent customer service is a part of the homeowner’s quality experience,” Billingsly says. “I believe they go hand in hand and are one in the same. If we are not providing a quality experience, then we are failing to give excellent customer service.”