Displaying customer care should be a non-negotiable quality among all businesses. Customer care must penetrate every touchpoint between a company and its customers. Customer care must pervade everything from customer services to customer relations.
Having this element present throughout your day-to-day operations is the key to an excellent customer service experience.
But what exactly is customer care?
Many companies believe that customer care is when businesses treat their customers with kindness and respect. Others say it’s about building an emotional connection and fostering a bond between brands and buyers.
Both are true, but customer care emphasizes knowing what matters most to customers.
The truth is that a business can only mask mediocre products and services with positive emotional connections for so long. You build solid relationships with customers when you sell products and services they genuinely care about and serve them best.
Customer care begins when companies recognize the things that matter most to customers. Emotional bonding and positive association come afterward.
Here, we’ll tackle customer care and discover the main things customers care about in the residential home services industry.
Types of Customer Needs
Your business success often depends on persuading prospects to choose your solutions over alternatives (or doing nothing). Achieving this feat requires a clear grasp of the competitive landscape, your competitors, and your customers. The business that displays the most customer care is often the one that corners the market.
One way to establish the best customer care is by understanding customer needs. It involves more than knowing what specific products or services they seek. It also tackles your ideal buyers’ motivations, inherent desires, and goals that influence their buying decisions.
Knowing these elements will help you align your sales process, marketing message, and customer relations with your prospects’ priorities. When you pull the right levers, customers will be more motivated to build long-lasting relationships with your business. That’s what customer care is about.
In general, there are three types of customer needs you should care about. These are:
Functional needs are the surface-level, primary needs that perform the necessary function to solve a problem. For example, if a person needs a 2” hole for a door knob, their functional need is a 2” cup saw drill bit to make the hole.
Among the customer needs, functional needs are the most tangible and typical in a customer’s mind. Most buyers start by evaluating various solutions on whether the product or service can help them achieve the function they seek. These are the features that they say they “want”.
The things people want are actually the things they need to fulfill their social and emotional needs. This is why salespeople believe functional needs are what the consumer is buying. It is not.
The shopper does not need a 2” hole to make their life better. It is simply a small, superficial part of the buying journey. Ultimately, the products or services that address their underlying felt needs (money, energy, and time) is the solution they select.
In this example, the person really wants a functioning door with a door knob for safety, security, or simple convenience. They will get back to a baseline of happy when they have a functioning door.
Those buyers that have satisfied their primary needs, will then consider their secondary needs. This is what it means to have your cake and eat it too.
Social needs are a secondary subset of needs related to a customer’s desired identity for using a product or service. For example, when a customer selects a sleek, brushed nickel door lever over a gold paint, builder-grade doorknob, they are considering their social need to appear and feel more sophisticated.
Social needs manifest the desire to belong as defined in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This is a third level need that is the first level of a thriving mindset.
People want to appear desirable, presentable, put together, and even stylish in a bid to better belong to their preferred tribe. Find things that represent their perceived personal brand and bring them a sense of pride and self-worth.
This means they are buying this sleek door lever in a bid to affirm their identity or to aspire to elevate (or maintain) their social standing. In this instance, just replace the sleek brushed nickel door lever with the thing you sell and determine how it serves a buyer’s social needs.
Emotional needs are secondary needs like social needs. While social needs emphasize how a customer wants to be perceived by others, emotional needs highlight how the buyer wants to feel.
Essentially, we all want to avoid pain, risk, punishment, or general unpleasantness. We strive to achieve a sense of balance, peace, calm, contentment, and even happiness. While the things we buy don’t make us happy, the gratitude we feel for the ability to buy them or how they make us feel when we are around them makes us grateful. This is the true secret to happiness.
This is why we are always assessing our purchases through our underlying felt needs of money, energy, and time. Have you ever felt anxiety about spending money you didn’t feel you had? Have you been stressed out having to take time off work to handle a home repair? Did you feel better when the job was done and a weight was lifted off your shoulders?
Humans are far more attuned to energy than we realize. Decisions are made in the right hemisphere of the brain. The right hemisphere has no facility for words — only feelings. That means we make all of our decisions based on how we feel. Money and time affect how we feel about it, based on the fundamental motivations (both positive and negative) we have that drive our actions and behaviors.
While scholars believe emotional needs are secondary in nature, they are precisely what give us permission to make the purchase.
People buy emotionally and justify with left-brain logic what the heart desires.
The 6 Things Customers Care About in Residential Home Services
In the residential home service industry, customers want 2.5 of 6 things. Why 2.5? Depending on the buyer’s mindset, beliefs, and worldview, they prioritize 2.5 of these 6 things when making a decision.
There are 2 things that are non-negotiable, and there is one that could be tweaked, but still remains desirable and hard to lose. We consider this a point five for that reason.
While all customers would take a spaceship (fully loaded) solution if it were free, they are ultimately willing to give up certain things to justify the expense of the thing you’re selling.
Those are the things that fulfill their functional, social, and emotional needs. Your solution is weighed out with the value equation (the money, energy, time investment) to determine if and what they buy from you, or a different provider.
Here are the six main themes your customer care endeavors should revolve around.
Buyers care about safety. Homeowners want to know that the products and services they’re paying for won’t risk their family’s safety. Also, people only want to do business with companies they trust will keep them safe.
For example, imagine you own a residential cleaning company. Your customers want to know your chemicals won’t harm their children or pets.
Not only do they want to ensure that your product is safe, but that they are safe with the company making the right decisions to keep them safe, so they don’t have to think about it.
Buyers care about performance. While there’s a good chance their new air conditioner won’t have a Hemi® in it, they are happy with whisper quietness, high efficiency, and gentler functionality (like a variable speed motor vs a single stage motor).
Customers want their money’s worth. Performance is more than the lowest price. Performance is the story we tell our neighbor about how silly quiet our new air conditioner is. “You wouldn’t even know the new AC was running if it wasn’t so frigid in here”.
Performance means providing solutions that meet or exceed customer expectations. Unrelated to your goods and services, performance also means showing up on time, offering the right solutions base on your professional acumen, and doing the job right the first time.
Appearance also matters for some customers in the residential home services industry. Every service you render or equipment installation becomes an extension of their identity. Whether they are social needs-motivated or not, appearance is a non-negotiable aspect of customer care.
Installations like a new HVAC system, roof, or landscaping should be functional and pretty. For example, a new high-efficiency HVAC system you installed should operate at 96% efficiency, but it should also look clean, tight, and crisp.
Moreover, the people you send out should look presentable and maintained. Your employees, vehicles, uniforms, and printed materials should look professional. Appearance reinforces the professional image you’re trying to project and protects your prospect’s status.
The fourth pillar of customer care is comfort and convenience. These are the product features like an ecobee smart thermostat or super quiet nylon rollers for your garage door.
When you offer products and services that make a buyer’s life easier, more intuitive, and comfy, you add positive energy.
The same holds true for the way you deliver your service. The faster you can eliminate their problem with as little disruption to their daily routine the better.
When your team displays empathy and competence, you make your prospects more comfortable. When you have a robust selection to meet a variety of needs, you make shopping with you more convenient. And when Google reviews indicate how easy it was to work with you when an issue arose, you make people comfortable.
Economy includes the upfront investment of your goods and services and the cost of ownership. Will a customer care if your price is too high? Of course. Will a customer care if your solution is costly to own? Indeed.
There is a big difference between offering the cheapest price and offering the lowest price. The best residential home service companies are experts in articulating value that far surpasses the upfront cost for buyers.
For example, Armadura sells a metal roof system with a non-prorated 50-year warranty. While it is 50% more expensive than asphalt shingles, it is a whopping 400% LESS cost of ownership. Delivering such a disproportionate value for the customer makes buying it a no-brainer for many of their buyers.
That is called establishing your perfectly fair competitive advantage. Discounts and low prices are lazy marketing strategies. Any idiot can lower their price. In reality, the businesses that offer offensively immense value win in the residential home service industry.
6. Durability (or Dependability)
Durability (or dependability) is knowing that the products or services customers purchase will last. It is a big customer care concern for people who buy home services. They don’t want to repeatedly repurchase the same product or service because it keeps breaking down or wearing out prematurely.
Offering superior quality goods, extended warranties, and guarantees with self-imposed consequences for poor workmanship all speak to the value of durability. Nobody ever woke up one morning and said, “I think I want to spend $15,000 on a new HVAC system today. Let’s go shopping, honey”. Therefore, when they are forced to replace a garage door, HVAC system, roof, or hot water tank, they want to get the longest life out of it for the price they pay.
Moreover, dependability also means having dependable customer service strategies in place. When you have live answer calls, extended hours, and value-packed club membership, you are demonstrating your dependability. The key to your success with buyers who value dependability is to do what you say you’re going to do.
Externally Triggered, Grudge Purchases
Why do businesses have to consider the six things that matter most to buyers? To ensure an adequate (or superior) level of customer care.
You’re selling externally triggered, grudge purchases.
That means you’re selling stuff that customers are “forced” to buy, begrudgingly. An external event triggers their purchase, for example, a sewer backup or a hoopty AC. This is the exact opposite of internally triggered, impulse buy. People WANT to buy Lululemons and the latest iPhone.
Unless you display customer care and attention to what matters most to buyers, you fail to neutralize negative emotions (energy). Any negatively motivated purchase is not ideal. Weaksauce customer care will paint your business in a bad light. You want to be remembered as the business that takes away your customer’s pain points and satiates their pleasure points.
It begins with customer care.
Identify What Your Customers Actually Need and What They Really Care About
Customer care is the prerequisite of customer service and customer relations. You can’t position yourself as a helpful, competent, and trustworthy business if you don’t exhibit superior customer care for your buyers.