Making a clean sweep

Making a clean sweep

This week I had my chimney swept by a new (to me) company Wilkins. They were excellent. So far I have recommended their service to five people and now I am blogging about them.

Matt, the sweep-guy, was courteous and friendly. He arrived on time, despite getting lost (I am hard to find). He offered to take his shoes off (big tick), he welcomed the new-best-friend Labrador and didn’t object to having his ears ‘washed’ (very big tick) and there were no sharp intakes of breath when he found tricky parts of the chimney containing stubborn soot. He worked tidily and made no mess.

When finished, he polished up the flue, cleaned the inside and glass doors of the wood burner, and hoovered all the interior bricks of the inglenook because I mentioned I’m frightened of spiders. He charged as quoted, which was less than I’ve paid other sweeps, and offered to call me next year as a reminder. As a customer, I felt I’d received good service that exceeded expectation.

That’s good marketing.

I was trying out this new chimney sweep, because doubts had crept in about the company I’d been using before (for several years). I won’t name them, because that wouldn’t be fair. Their sweep-guy came out to remove a jackdaw’s nest, which was blocking a flue. It’s not an easy job, but when asked to cost the work, I got the distinct feeling he was plucking a (high) figure out of thin air. My trust was waning slightly but the job had to be done to avoid Co2 poisoning, so I went with it.

All in all it wasn’t the clean sweep I was hoping for. Much grumbling, a few choice words and a heck of a mess. But what was worse was the guy’s treatment of a young lad assisting him. He picked on everything he did (in front of me), causing the lad embarrassment and coming across as a bully. The collective experience for me as the customer, despite having a clean chimney, was not positive. I felt I may have been been ripped off and I don’t approve of bullies. Hence, my decision to go elsewhere.

That’s bad marketing.

It’s a simple tale of two chimney sweeps with two different approaches. One customer focused, the other self-focused. And it brings to mind a couple of points about customer service and retention.

  • Customers like to buy from people who they feel are serving them.
  • To serve customers well, you need to be an advocate for them.
  • That means seeing the experience from their perspective, not yours.

Matt will likely acquire and keep many more customers, making a valuable contribution to his employer’s marketing, whereas the other guy’s client list could be in danger of going up in smoke.

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