Building customer relationships in today’s world


February 4, 2020



As our industry and the public have changed over the years, we have had to adapt and modify the way we do business. Long gone are the days when we met our residential customers at their homes, treated the inside and outside of the house, then spent quality time discussing our service, what we found, what we did, and what the customer should expect.

Back then, we had the opportunity to really get to know our customers. We often sat at the kitchen table, possibly had a cup of coffee and discussed a variety of topics. We not only knew all about their home, but also about their pets, children and what was going on in their lives. We were able to build a true relationship.

Today, the game has changed a great deal. Many companies perform a thorough outside treatment, then treat harborage or problem areas on the inside as needed. For many of our customers today, this is absolutely ideal, as an outside-only service can be performed when the customer isn’t home. It’s extremely convenient for the customer, and quite frankly, very efficient for the company. In many cases, an outside perimeter service can keep many of the pests we deal with out of the home and provide lots more routing efficiencies — a win-win for both the customer and the company.

But here’s the fly in the ointment: If our customers aren’t home when we perform our service, how do they know what we did? Even more importantly, how do we build a relationship with them? Just leaving or sending a bill or statement doesn’t really build long-term customer loyalty.


At ABC, we believe we have solved this dilemma with our new “virtual service” technology and program. We have created a smartphone app that interfaces with our company software and allows our service specialists to really communicate with customers, even if we never meet face-to-face.

For example, service specialist Manuel Ortiz’s first account of the day is Emily Hartsell. The program begins with a text message sent to Emily when Manuel is en route to her home. This notification has Manuel’s photo and brief bio, so even though Emily is at work, she knows we will be there soon.

Upon completion of the outside service, Manuel takes several pictures of the areas he treated and any conducive conditions he found. He then records a voice message, telling Emily what he did and what special instructions he might recommend. He then thanks Emily for her business, and for giving ABC the opportunity to serve her and her family.

With the photos and voice message comes a request for Emily to complete a one-question survey. We follow the Net Promoter Score philosophy, asking simply, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend ABC to a friend or relative?” In addition, we provide links for Emily to go to social media sites to give a review if she’d like. All of this information is sent by Manuel directly to Emily’s email or text number, depending on her preference.

This process and technology has been monumental in our ability to continue to build a relationship with each of our customers, even when they are not home. The customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive: Customers love the convenience of the outside service, and they love the amount and quality of information we are able to provide them. We can make our service personal and foster relationships, even when we are miles apart.

Learn moreJenkins brothers share the ABCs of growth

JENKINS, who rotates this column with his brothers Raleigh and Dennis, is president of ABC Home & Commercial Services, Austin, Texas. He can be reached at


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