For 5-Star Results, Be SMART About Your Service

Setting specific goals can keep your customers smiling and your plumbing business booming.

For 5-Star Results, Be SMART About Your Service
Anja Smith

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I bet most plumbing managers believe good customer service plays out like a movie script — right down to happy, smiling faces in the closing credits. But is this really how it works?

As business owners and managers, it’s our job not only to create the customer service experience, but also to see that it is executed consistently. For your plumbers or technicians to act out your script, they have to know their parts and understand what is meant by “good” customer service. Simply telling employees to speak politely isn’t enough. You need to be specific.

To keep your customers smiling and your business booming, consider setting SMART service goals for you and your employees.

S - Specific

Examples might include how you would like customers to be addressed, whether they should shake hands or smile, and what words or phrases might be off-limits. Never assume an employee has the same definition of vague words like “polite” or “pleasant” as you do. Instead, spell out expected interactions and leave no room for miscommunication.  

M - Measurable

If it can’t be measured, it can’t be tracked. Quantifying your expectations is specificity with the added bonus of trackability. Examples of measurable customer service expectations include five-star reviews, picking up the phone before the third ring, an introduction within the first 30 seconds, or a smile 100 percent of the time. By setting a measurement, you also establish pass-fail expectations. Telling a plumber they should smile when greeting the customer versus asking them to smile 100 percent of the time upon greeting the customer sets a very different level of expectations. 

A - Aligned

This is your gut check — ensure what you are asking of your staff is aligned with your company culture and mission. For example, if you promise prompt and courteous service, it’s good policy to call customers if you are running late. Sometimes the most obvious actions get lost in the day-to-day hustle, so take time to review your policies and your promises to make sure they are aligned.

R - Results oriented

Our plumbers and office staff are busy enough; they don’t need work for work’s sake. That energy can be better served elsewhere. Make certain your customer service policies are results oriented and create an impact for both your customers and your bottom line. We want our customer service expectations to make a difference to our customers’ day, not just to create fluffy feel-good policy language.

T - Timely

Good customer service is all about the right action at the right time. A gruff introduction followed later by a smile when handing the customer the bill doesn’t add up to a five-star experience. It’s important for customer service to happen at the right time, even if it feels inconvenient to the employee — a dispatcher with a headache may not want to answer the phone within three rings. SMART service is about being on the customer’s timeline, not ours. Show up with a smile every time, not just when it feels convenient.

Putting SMART customer service into action

Once you have set SMART customer service policies for the employees, be sure to go over specific examples. You might even want to try role-playing. Like any policy, you want to make sure it’s documented and actually put into action. The best way to do this is by holding your employees — and yourself — accountable. You have to lead by example and show your employees that customer service is a priority. As always, praise loudly and blame softly — and in private.

Good customer service might seem easy. After all, it’s just being nice, right? But if that were true, then so many plumbers wouldn’t be getting it wrong. Setting SMART goals is a great way to make sure your movie-like vision of customer service is a reality.

About the author: Anja Smith is managing partner for All Clear Plumbing in Greenville, South Carolina. She can be reached at


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