Does your customer experience match expectations?

Months ago, I hired a local company to remove birds from our dryer vent that were causing problems for us. The noise was awful, the smell was apparent, and we had the constant worry that a bird nest in the dryer vent could cause a fire.

Before we hired the company to perform the service, we were explicit in what we expected. Remove the birds (if they still resided in the vent), clean it out, and seal the vent so birds couldn't return.

They agreed, and it seemed like a done deal. I knew the pest control company's hourly rate, and they claimed it would be a simple job.

But when the technician arrived, everything went wrong.

When I answered the door at 7:55 am on a Saturday in my pajamas, I knew something was off. The technician didn't seem to understand why he was there other than to identify he was there to "remove birds." He didn't have a ladder, even though the vent was on the second level of our home. Overall, I got the sense he was unprepared, and this wasn't happening.

The next red flag was that he asked for crawl space and attic access.

Like, dude, you see the vent on the outside of our house, right? You can only get to the birds from the dryer vent inside the house where the dryer is or from the outside vent. Both not accessible by the attic or crawl space, by the way.

After exchanges in 10 minutes, he suggested that he didn't have the equipment to do the job (no shit, Sherlock). He then told me he would "make some calls" to determine solutions for getting it done.

"Okaaaaay," I said. But all I'm thinking in my head is "bring a ladder and a shop-vac, and you could have handled this in the first place" [by the way, we later learned the birds were no longer in the vent, so no need for judgement on how we handled removal].

He then suggested that the best course of action was to rent a ladder and buy material to close off the vent. The best part was that he/they wanted to charge us $250 for the 10-minute visit to do something that could have been vetted over phone or email.

I don't fight stuff like this usually, but this was on them. I described in an email everything I needed to be done and what I expected out of the service up front, and the company confirmed it. I have the emails to prove it.

I'll spare you the details following this experience because it was not suitable for either party. I'll say this: as a business, in the sales process, outline your process and make sure it aligns with customer expectations. If it doesn't, the customer will always be disappointed, and it will lead to unhappiness, bad reviews, and lost revenue.

Here's my recipe for an excellent client experience:

  1. Do a proper intake. Determine what it is the client needs.

  2. Restate what the customer/prospect needs and what they expect from the service and what "done" looks like.

  3. Take inventory of your equipment and people and determine if you can deliver on the customer's expectations.

  4. Agree on a price and how you intend to fulfill the service

  5. Complete the service with no hidden costs or surprises unless otherwise discussed

Bottom line, if you're running a business or have influence over client experience, make sure whatever you promise aligns with the expectations of a customer. Otherwise, a client will be disappointed and share the bad experience with everyone in their network, online through social media, Better Business Bureau, and other places that can have a positive or negative impact on your business.

If you’re wondering what happened following the service we initially requested, we fired that company and hired another company who went above and beyond our expectations for half the cost of what that first company wanted to charge for just showing up. And they worked their asses off! The name of the company that was amazing was Krohn’s, by the way. I won’t mention the other company who messed up the opportunity.