Don’t Let Your Business Die From Oldness

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Do not let your business die from oldness. Do not let your company become irrelevant from ingenuousness.

Before anyone assumes my stance has anything to do with age, let me be clear. I have employees who range in sex, age, race and all across the board who bring talent, ambition and wisdom to the table. Oldness in a company is felt with being stale and not up to speed with the times. My job as President is to marry the talents together to create a company and culture that survives the current technology race and satisfies the human desire for service.

I received an email from a customer cancelling their service because we asked them to utilize our brand new online portal for payment. Online payment technology has been around since the 90’s and has been utilized heavily since the early 2000’s. This customer was concerned about breach of security since he had undergone a strenuous bank account hacking a few years ago. To top it off we had lost a hard check a few months prior by his pest professional. See his initial email below:

“Sorry, we do not do online payments. There is just too much news with regard to the “who’s next” in getting hacked into by way of the internet. And every one of those well respected and trusted firms, confident that they could never be hacked into, and valuable personal information regarding their clients, in the hands of who knows who. Yet, there it is, one after another of failures again and again.”

Therefore, since U.S. Pest feels that their employees and/or service reps cannot be trusted to handle payments from your clients back to you, why then should we, the clients trust that those same reps, can be left to service our homes while unattended? And in all this time, these past nine years, not a single glitch save this last time, when apparently our payment check got lost somewhere.  I guess it’s just time for us to call it quits with your service, as there just seems to be a serious difference of opinion in how to go about doing things. And I certainly hope that the choices being made by you, serve your company well, and if so, good for you.

Have enjoyed our years of doing business with you. Hope that our new exterminator service can meet our needs without a hitch.”

He was under the impression we didn’t trust our service professionals, which is far from the truth. In business we have to utilize technology, but we also have to have a drastic focus on the human element. U.S. Pest is in the people business. It is the business owners responsibility to cater to the ‘people’ it serves. Businesses have an impact on the world, whether that’s good or bad is up to the business and those that run it. U. S. Pest and its employees know that it is our people that make the difference, both employee and customer alike. We employ and service all ages, sexes, races and nationalities.Where we win is in focusing on the human element of our business. We are in the people business, not the pest control business.

My response to this customer was simple:

Mr. ________

I certainly understand your point.

I apologize we lost your payment.

Our service professionals are absolutely competent and happy to accept payment at time of service.

The online portal is simply an option for our customers who prefer to have this available. We have a new portal so mass emails have been sent to alert those who prefer to pay that way.

I do hope you reconsider this as a misunderstanding and we value our human interaction with you far more than an online portal.

U.S. Pest has been built on traditional customer service, we are not moving away from valuing customers’ needs and preferences. This online payment option is a value to some of our customers, but we understand not all.

Please contact me directly to discuss and I will reach out by phone tomorrow.

A lot of companies today would have responded with a canned email or this email might have been viewed as a nuisance customer who just didn’t get it and they would have been cancelled. What I know is that ‘customer service is not dead’, and technology is only here to help us service customers. Sometimes that technology isn’t a good fit for customers.

Sears Roebuck is going out of business. A company who revolutionized the world with a shopping experience in a catalogue. A company who has created memories for kids and families and industries. They dropped the ball and gave up the ghost. Sears isn’t simply going out of business. They, along with Toy’s R US and other iconic brands are dead and dying because the vision and passion for revolutionizing the world through their business was not passed down or handed down to anyone else. A company’s role in the world is not just about profits (even though that is extremely important.) The role for a business is to make an impact and continue to make an impact. The test of time is sad and victorious. The response I received as a result of my human response to this human customer evoked and reaffirmed what U.S. Pest is all about-hearing our customers. See his amazing response below:

 Hi Erica,

“And thank you for this most humble apology, certainly not what I was expecting. Yet the sincerity that it embodies, has extinguished any intent on my part to look elsewhere for pest protection services to our home.

…………………. Several paragraphs of explanation of history………………..

And now, your having sifted through this lengthy expression from me, your getting this far, redeems the need for you to have to call. We simply just go forward, each having learned and growing just a bit.

God bless you, and your business.”

This is an example of hearing the customer, talking to customers like they are human and being able to communicate in a professional way that is sincere; not just via text message short hand. I consider this interaction as a win. I will take this customers’ advice and use this experience as a tool to grow and learn just a bit. The answers are there if you slow down and listen.

I believe all people have something to offer and I also believe that all people want the same thing. They want to be heard and they want to be valued. U. S. Pest will continue to challenge the status quo and continue to be excellent in the current business environment because we are focused on two extremes. The two extremes are the digital age and the dissipations of humanity crying out for good service by being heard. If companies continue to not hear their customers we will end up with a different humanity and the human experience shallowed by the realities of businesses. Customer service is not dead.

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