Nine Customer Relation Tips for Home Cleaning Services
Of all the field services available to homeowner running a cleaning business is by far the most personal. While most services are temporary, once or twice a year arrangements involving repairs, maintenance, and inspections, your staff gets up close and personal with the inside of people’s homes, often in their most private spaces. You clean up their kid’s toys, scrub the grunge created by their lifestyle, and sometimes even handle their literal dirty laundry.
It’s no wonder that customers can get touchy about exactly how they do and do not want their houses cleaned. Some people are deeply grateful for any help around the house, others get haughty and defensive, and a few are still emotionally on the fence about getting a cleaning service in the first place. One thing is certain, when it comes to your customers, the rule is always to ‘handle with care’ and it helps to have a rock-solid set of policies to keep both you and your staff happy with the service.
1) Quote After Seeing the Space
When a customer calls or emails your service in order to inquire about a job, it’s important to remember that no matter how nice they seem, there’s no way of knowing how much cleaning work there is to do until you see the space. Make sure that customers understand that while you can give them a price estimate remotely, you’ll need to do one preliminary inspection before giving a definite price for a full deep clean. Make sure you take note of how large the home is, how many rooms the customer would like cleaned with each visit, how dirty the home is to begin with, and if the customer wants any extra tasks like dishes or laundry as well.
2) Know When to Charge Per-Service or Hourly
The correct payment configuration for a cleaning service depends a lot on what the job is. Ideally, you want to make sure your staff is properly compensated for their hard work and that the customer gets the best possible value for their money. Keeping this balance can require careful and constant attention to ensure that customers are not overpaying for light maintenance cleaning visits, which can go very quickly and efficiently, and that your lower hourly rates are not being applied to more exhausting deep cleaning services.
3) Make a Printed List of “Don’ts”
When some people hire a cleaning service, what they really think is that they’re hiring a personal maid to do everything in the home they don’t feel like doing. Cleaning services are used to special requests in order to leave a home or business in a state that is most appreciated by the clients, but every service has a list of things they don’t do. This list can include laundry, heavy lifting, high places, and maintenance repairs, among many other details.
The way to prevent this from becoming a serious customer service issue is to helpfully manage expectations ahead of time. When the customer arranges to hire your services, make sure to make it clear exactly what chores your teams don’t do. Give them a printed list of services they can ask for and those they can’t, then ask them to sign a copy that you keep. This way customers will find it easier to remember what they shouldn’t ask for and the occasional demanding business client or absentminded working mum does ask you to overstep the bounds of your service; you are prepared to prevent them from insisting or going nuclear.
4) Get a Written List of Desired Tasks
Speaking of written lists, every customer wants something different from their house cleaning service, and it pays to know what that is before you send the first team in. Help your customers understand all the services you automatically provide like dusting and mopping and get a very clear written list of everything the customer wants to be included in their regular service.
These can be things like making beds, remembering to dust light fixtures, or doing the laundry and dishes if these aren’t on your “Don’ts” list. At the same time, get an idea of how carefully your clients want the houses cleaned and ask if there’s anything they specifically don’t want to be moved or cleaned.
5) Send Teams to Familiar Houses
Most cleaning services are large enough to have several teams out working to cover all the houses scheduled for that day. While it’s possible to switch out teams on the same house, for happier customers and staff, make sure to send the same person or team each time. This way, your regulars can get to know a home or office and the preferences of the clients.
The clients of cleaning services often go out of their way to explain how they like things to their cleaners which means that sending the same team to a location each time is also a great way to build strong customer relationships as clients who are sometimes around during their cleaning service. They will be comforted by a familiar face they can trust with instructions can get to know the person or team that regularly cleans their home. This can create a positive rapport and even result in things like special gifts and tips because the owners appreciate what you do.
6) Help Customers Improve Their Service Quality
In most fields, service quality is 100% the responsibility of the service and professionals providing that service. However, when it comes to cleaning a home, your teams can offer a lot more value to customers who understand how to prepare their home for service. Make sure to offer a friendly explanation to your customers (before you see their home) that a little tidying goes a long way.
If your staff have to pick up clutter, soak dishes, or sort large disorganised stacks of paper or items spread over the home surfaces, they won’t have the same kind of time and focus to dedicate to a deep, thorough cleaning of surfaces, nooks, and crannies. It may also help to advise customers not to pre-clean their homes as some self-conscious and over-courteous owners do sometimes. This can make it difficult to tell what has and has not been cleaned and, to a certain extent, wastes the homeowner’s time.
7) Balance Communication With Customers
If a customer is at home when their house is cleaned, there are a number of things that your staff and the client might discuss. From recent weather phenomena to how they want something cleaned, these interactions can be incredibly productive and good for customer satisfaction. However, there are some things that need to be discussed with the home office instead of with the individual cleaning staff, and defining that line is important.
Just as office staff members aren’t in the field cleaning, your cleaning staff aren’t prepared to address things like accounts, payments, or technical issues. If a customer starts complaining about the state of their account to a cleaner, they won’t be able to help, and this can result in an unnecessarily bad experience for both parties. Make sure your customers and staff understand where that line is and when communication needs to be with the cleaning team or with the office.
8) Be Prepared for Conflict Resolution
Not every customer is perfect and, unfortunately, neither are all of your employees. Experienced cleaning service veterans know that customers can get nasty, rude, abusive, or just plain confused about what their services are allowed to include. Team members, even if they are usually fantastic, can make a mistake or mishandle a client interaction. If any of these situations come up along with dozens of other possible problems, it’s important to be prepared to act as a mediator in conflict resolution between a cleaning staff member and a customer. Get both sides of the story before acting to decide if this is a problem with the customer, your team, or simply some incompatibility between them.
9) Perfect the Finishing Touch
The final way to show customers that you care even if you never see them a single time during service is to leave a few finishing touches. A clean floor is easy to ignore if it wasn’t filthy to start with but most people get that warm ‘taken care of’ feeling when there’s a mint on made beds, a fresh hand towel on the oven door, and the end of the toilet paper roll has been folded into a neat little triangle like hotels do it. These little things can matter more than it might seem reasonable and can provide a significantly positive effect on your customers.
Find More Customer Relation Tips for Home Cleaning Services
Whether you’re a small cleaning service helping out a few neighbours or a multi-city chain of cleaning services spanning across the states, your homeowner customers will be about the same from coast to coast. You have the power to make them delighted with your service by implementing just a few expectation management, quality assurance, and final touch techniques in every home you service. For more great tips and tricks on how to improve your field service business, please contact us today!