The Importance of Customer Service

Published On: April 15, 2020By Categories: Business Management, Drawing from the Well

Stand out and give that old-fashioned customer service that built many great businesses.

By Gary Shawver, MGWC

Customer service has many different interpretations attached to it.

If you go online, most websites have a customer service link. But what you really get for customer service can vary greatly from business to business. I’m going to outline what I believe are some basic guidelines for great customer service.

  • First and foremost, realize that your business won’t exist without customers. They bring you income, pay your bills, and pay your employees’ wages.This axiom must be instilled into your business culture and all of your employees from the office staff to the field staff. Customer service must become part of your culture and it’s an ongoing principle that needs constant refreshing. And it must be addressed from day one when a new employee is hired.
  • Customer service starts at the top. It starts with the owner of the business, and with your attitude towards the customer. Your customer is not a commodity. They are a human being with feelings, and they have needs and wants just like you. They need a water well or pump installed. Their want is to be treated like someone special because they are paying money for a service you are providing.For several years at my business, I had a banner in the employee break room that read “Reputations cannot be rested on . . . they must be earned every time we go out to do a job!” If you have a good reputation, it takes work to keep it. This banner was a way to remind the employees constantly that we must earn it day in and day out and with every customer.
  • Start with the attitude of giving your customers more than they expect. There are always basic things customers expect from a business interaction, but there are also things one can do to enhance the customer experience. More on this later.
  • Communication. Communicating is vital from the start of customer interaction. Most customer interactions start with a phone call, and some start with an email. Regardless, it’s important they begin in a friendly and cordial manner. A customer’s first impression of your interaction with them will most likely be how they think of your business during the remainder of the interaction. A happy, cheerful person on the other end of the phone line does wonders to get things started right.However, it’s vital when the phone is answered, it’s answered in a manner that is not hurried or complacent. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve called someplace and the person answering the phone acted like they were in a hurry. I’ve been unable to even understand what was said to me on occasion.When I can’t understand what was said or what the person’s name is, I back them up and politely ask their name. It’s also important you write down their name and use their first name often in the conversation. People like to hear their name. In addition, it shows you have paid attention and it gets things moving in the right direction.If the initial communication is by email, it’s vital to return that initial message and any follow-up emails in a timely manner. Typically, anything within a 24-hour period of receiving any business email is considered courteous. However, following up an email with a personal phone call is better yet.

    Communication is also vital in the entire interaction of a business transaction—be it drilling a well, the installation of a pump, or other work performed. The customer needs to be periodically informed of what is going on with their project, especially if things are not going as you or they anticipated.

    By doing this, you have subconsciously transmitted to them that you care about them and you care that they understand what is going on. If a project costs more than the customer anticipated, communicating the problems or issues that contributed to this will make it much easier for the customer to accept.

Lessons Learned

So, what are some things that you can do to give the customer more than they expect?

Many of the customers I called on frankly didn’t expect me to come to their location with a written estimate and go over it with them. Some customers who are shopping around for a price found I was often the only one who did so. In fact, I was often told none of the other quotes they requested even offered to do it. Yes, it takes time and takes away from potentially being on that drill rig or pump service call. But many happy customers can bring you more customers and build your business.

By going to the site of the job, especially a site where a new well may be drilled, it allows you to also figure out what is going to be required to get the job done efficiently.

A customer’s first impression of your interaction with them will most likely be how they think of your business during the remainder of the interaction.

I recently had some directional drilling done on my property by a well-respected contractor. When I contacted him about the project, he told me the price and I asked him when he could come look the project over as it was not an easy location to get into. He stated, “My crew will handle that when they come.”

Well, they came—and were not prepared with the proper fittings needed to complete the project and it required two more trips on two different days. While they eventually completed the project successfully, I was not completely happy with all the time it took. A simple trip to the jobsite before the project started would have eliminated a lot of problems and most likely led to a project completed in one trip and higher profit for the contractor.

If you have given your customer a date when you plan to start their project and the date isn’t going to work out as planned, call them and let them know right away. Similarly, if you have a date set and you plan on being there on that date, give them a reminder call. All of this little communication gives the customer more than they expect and most appreciate it.

Lastly, you may wish to do a followup survey, either with your bill or a phone call by you or one of your staff, to see how your company fared with the customer. If you have a website, you may ask your customers to rate you. Frankly, I often read reviews before I purchase something. Nothing is more compelling than a customer’s testimony.

Final Thoughts

Not every customer is going to be easy to deal with. The expression “The customer is always right” is true . . . until they are wrong. If you feel you need to set them straight on an issue, do it respectfully. Getting angry with a customer will never solve a problem and it can do untold damage to your reputation. One unhappy customer will tell 10 people and a happy customer may tell two or three.

When I first got into the drilling business with my father, he told me, “Gary, if you take care of the customer, the business will take care of itself.” He was right. However, the culture in this country has changed.

People do not communicate verbally like in the past, and many prefer to text and not dialogue. Interaction with people is vital. And while the culture today has brought this on, it doesn’t mean you have to buy into it and follow suit. Stand out from the crowd and give that old-fashioned customer service that built many great businesses.

While the quality of your work is a vital part of any drilling or pump contractor’s business, customer service is going to give you a successful business. I was once told, “A customer will not remember you for how well you drilled their well, they will remember you by how kindly you treated them.”

If you want to make this a better world and have a successful business, give your customers great customer service.


Gary Shawver, MGWC, is president of Shawver Well Co. Inc. in Fredericksburg, Iowa. He has been in the water well industry for more than 40 years and is a Master Groundwater Contractor. He served on the NGWA Board of Directors. Shawver is semi-retired, having sold his business to his employees. He can be reached at grs@shawverwell.com.

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