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The Terminix Customer Experience Is Buggy At Best

I usually don’t call people/companies out on our blog posts, but this one deserves a little elbow to the ribs if you ask me.

Terminix, I hope you’re reading: customer experience (CX) is very important to keeping customers happy (and loyal).

And Phil (the Terminix VP of Customer Experience), it might be time to redefine your process … maybe talk to some actual customers? Or at least call them back?

If you aren’t Terminix or Phil, here’s what NOT to do when it comes to customer experience.

terminix-customer-experience-is-buggy

You’d Better Get To Know Joe

As in Joe Customer. Funnily enough this Terminix horror story comes from my friend Joe. He’s allowing me to tell it on his behalf.

Joe and his family use an organic mosquito repellant from Terminix for their yard (they have three young ones and a dog to worry about — here’s his daughter and dog, Wally).

Joe-Terminix-Customer-Experience

Apparently if the organic spray isn’t working, you can call and they’ll come out and respray at no charge.

A few things to know about Terminix:

  • They promise a customer service response within one business day
  • They have a 1-800 number and a contact form on their website to get in touch

Joe and Joe Customer expect promises — especially when spelled out in writing on your website — to be fulfilled.

This is the basic exchange of the customer experience, as CX is often described as the ongoing interactions customers and companies have during their relationship.

Company X makes promises around their products, certain promises around their follow up on product promises, and if they meet those promises, you promise to stay with them as a loyal, paying client.

Seems basic enough, right?

Why Their Customer Service Sucks

Joe called the local Terminix number to schedule an appoint for the respray of his yard but couldn’t seem to reach anyone.

So instead, he went to the Terminix website and used the contact form to request a repeat service. He never got a response.

Joe went back a third time and used the 1-800 number to reach out and was finally able to reach someone. They scheduled a day and time for a local representative to respray his yard.

It took three touchpoints to get the desired results.

But that’s not the end of the story. It gets worse.

On the scheduled date and time, Terminix did not show up to respray Joe’s yard.

At this point, as you can probably imagine, Joe is pretty put off.

He calls the local Terminix number only to be rerouted to the 1-800 Terminix number. He complains about his poor customer experience and the no show.

He is told he will hear back from a local branch manager to confirm a new appointment. He does not hear back.

He’s at five touchpoints with no results.

He goes to the Terminix Facebook Page and complains, and is contacted by the social support team. They ask for a rundown of the issue.

Terminix FB complaint

Joe explains that they’re the fourth person he’s been in contact with over this issue. He asks for the contact information of Phil Barber, who is the VP of Customer Experience.

Support says they cannot give out Mr. Barber’s info “due to a privacy matter.” They say tell him a local manager will reach out within 24-48 hours to reschedule service.

VP Cust Serv can't be reached

The yard was finally resprayed. But Phil, who Joe requested contact him about his experience when exchanging emails with the support team, has still not reached out, over 48 days after Joe laid out his customer experience horror story in writing.

Where Terminix’s Customer Experience Went Wrong

Where should we start?!

  1. The “local” Terminix number only reroutes customers to the main number. If no one answers at the local office (which never happened for Joe) the caller is bounced to the main number. Not only is this frustrating, it’s redundant. Plus it makes for one more hoop/touchpoint that the customer has to endure.
  2. The contact form, which is supposed to get you a response within one business day, doesn’t work. I’m sure there are hundreds or thousands of daily requests, but with all of the advanced automation software out there, there’s really no excuse.
  3. A scheduled appointment was missed with no heads up, no reason, no follow-up, and no “we’re sorry.”
  4. Playing “wait and see” isn’t fun for anyone. Joe calls the 1-800 number only to be told the local office will handle the reschedule (which they don’t). Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing over there? Is their CRM not capable of handling the customer journey?
  5. While the social media team seemed to be pretty responsive, your customers shouldn’t have to resort to public complainings to get results (a quick look at their FB Page shows that most customers have something negative to say about scheduling). That’s a surefire way to make current and would-be customers alike think twice about hiring your company.
  6. You have a VP of Customer Service who cannot be contacted? And worse, who can’t reach out to customers reaching out numerous times over numerous channels to get help? Even if he’s some bigwig who can’t be bothered, there’s no follow-up by a customer service team to check in? Simply unacceptable.
  7. No customer should have to go through so many touchpoints to get a response, especially when you have a “within one business day” response policy on your website!

How To Fix This Mess In Four Simple Steps

These are easy things to fix. Honestly.

[bctt tweet=”Big business has a way of making things hard when they don’t need to be.”]
  1. Map out your customer journey. Not just with leads and closing business, but with handling issues. Note how many handoffs or touchpoints take must place and make a plan to hit that number (or less) every. single. time.
  2. Get rid of unnecessary steps. I don’t know if it was a fluke, or if every customer with a problem has the local/1-800 number nightmare. It sounds to me like users need only use the 1-800 number and contact form to get help — AND, here’s an idea, they should garner a response within your written promise!
  3. Scheduled appointments should not be missed, and if they must be, proper notification should be given. Take it a step further and reach out to reschedule rather than making that the customer’s job.
  4. If you have a title like VP of Customer Service, you should also be known as “Mr./Ms. Available.” If you aren’t reachable, either by contact info or by contacting the customer, it says volumes about how you actually view customers and their experience. DO YOUR JOB, PHIL!

I’m sure we have all had “buggy” experiences similar to Joe’s. What do you think Terminix needs to make their customer experience journey a pleasant one?

 

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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and customer care agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
Category: Business, Customer Service
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7 Comments. Leave new

  • Wow, that’s terrible! And sadly I don’t think it’s that unique (even if it’s an extreme example of a bigger issue). For a bigger business, this is outrageous, but I have also found that smaller businesses can gain so much here. I once considered starting a roofing company with one distinguishing characteristic: calling back. I know nothing about roofing, but I know I’d leave my competition in the dust by actually replying to voicemails.

    I think the key for smaller businesses is to manage expectations. The response time is supposed to be very short, and sometimes this scares people off. I was talking to a mayor of a small town who was very active on Facebook and ‘complained’ that people expected a reply right away. Now, there’s two things he could do: reply faster or lower their expectations. If you’re a mayor, you shouldn’t have time to be on Facebook all day, so you can set times where you’ll answer people’s questions. If the questions are too complicated for Facebook, tell them (and optimally write a blog post to further explain things).

    When you put up a 1-800 number, you need to be responsive and meet that expectation. Your advice is spot-on, but if they can’t answer the phone, I wouldn’t expect them to draw out a customer journey.

    Reply
    • Bas, isn’t it?? You’re right, SO many companies big and small have trouble with CX or just plain follow up. Small businesses should really be disrupting here! I bet your roofing company would have had customers through the roof (couldn’t resist) just based on the basic premise of doing what you say you’re going to do.

      Your 2nd paragraph is SO ON POINT. Very few of us can be available 24/7 or right away, but if we set expectations we can manage others’ perceptions very easily.

      Thanks for always sharing your wisdom with us!!! 🙂

      Reply
  • Mixed signals make bad customer service - BasBoshuizen.com
    August 14, 2015 1:36 PM

    […] signals like that leave a bad taste in your customer’s mouth. It’s like having a 1-800 number that can’t be reached, a customer service support line that tries to get rid of you, or blocking Twitter followers that […]

    Reply
  • I find that most companies, big and small, never look at their process while standing in the customer’s shoes. So many customer service problems could be eliminated by taking a good hard look at how you REALLY treat your customers.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    george thomas
    May 9, 2016 7:03 AM

    Sounds like my experience with Terminex – only the short version — I did 7 separate calls, could never get back to the people who were supposed to be helping, had no one follow up – still listed for the wrong day of service on their website. The single most incompetent system I have ever worked with.

    Reply

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