TOOLS AND TIPS: Keeping Clients Happy with Customer Service

David Clarke, APLD

 David Clarke

David Clarke

APLD-CA GREATER LOS ANGELES DISTRICT

Customer service is what comes to mind when renting a car, or maybe asking for help in a hardware store (not that I do that, of course). What is my customer service as the owner of a landscape design business?

After some years in the field, I find that the real measure of my success is the building of relationships with clients and trying to be much more aware of this vital business aspect.

Some important ways of providing good customer service that have worked for me:

First: Listen!

I love to hear myself going on about mulch and the watershed approach, but if my prospective client does not know anything about soil (much less alternate or opposing leaf patterns) it will quickly become a one-sided conversation. I ask lots of questions, starting with the big picture and drilling down only to appropriate detail.

Second: Constant contact.

A remarkable amount of information is conveyed between myself and my client during the design process. I never let them feel abandoned and I stay attentive to communication. I double-check all my emails for spelling, grammar and context. Follow-up is crucial; don’t leave clients hanging.

Third: Consistency.

Be aware of your company's representation and be consistent across all channels. The client should never be confused. Align all your communication styles, graphics, and presentation materials so your messaging stays true. It can be as simple as a consistent color palette or as complex as fancy billing statements. Your client will appreciate a welcoming and professional business interface.

These key customer service practices have become an integral part of my design process and how it relates to my clients. When they thank me at the end of a project and I offer my sincere gratitude for the work and the relationship we’ve formed, I can feel confident they’ll be sending referrals my way.