I had some very bad experiences with customer service recently and I did have an entire blog drafted in my mind about the importance of putting the customer first but then we had some great news. In fact, we have had three pieces of great news in the last couple of weeks and so the customer service blog will have to wait until next month. Be assured, though, I will be venting my spleen in due course.
The first bit of news actually relates to last month’s blog. As I signed off, I noted how I had just finished seven interviews for the 2018 Gatwick Diamond Business Awards. We have now had the verdict and I’m pleased to say we have been made finalists in two categories – ‘Responsible Business of the Year’ and ‘Customer Delight’. The latter category is rather apt when you consider what the subject of my blog was going to be!
You may remember that previously I’ve said, “It’s taking part that is important”, although you may also remember I later said, “Taking part is important, but winning is nicer”. The Gatwick Diamond Business Awards are always a great event to take part in and we have been lucky enough to win a few awards over the years. This year we have our fingers crossed but we do know we can’t always be lucky, especially when we are up against such tough competition.
The awards, themselves, are celebrating their tenth anniversary in 2018 and we are expecting another brilliant evening at the ceremony. The event will take place on the 15th March, at the Effingham Park Hotel, and will be hosted by comedian Brian Conley, fresh from his appearance on BBC 1’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.
The second piece of news was less expected – I’ve been appointed to the Advisory Panel for The Association of Residential Management Agents (ARMA). Obviously, I knew there was a possibility as they had previously interviewed me for the position but, as with the awards, you know you are up against some other very worthy people. I know I can bring some real expertise to this panel as pest controllers often get to see parts of buildings most people miss. At the same time, I can also help to keep ARMA’s members informed on the latest developments in pest management and regulations, helping them achieve their goal of raising standards in among residential management agents.
Both of these pieces of news would be very exciting in any normal month but February also contained one more amazing, in fact unbelievable, piece of news for Cleankill – we have been awarded the Gold Standard by Investors in People. The moment I received the news from Investors in People will long linger in my memory.
We were very pleased in 2005 to receive our accreditation but we always felt there was more we could achieve through this scheme. Most pest control companies, in fact most companies, stall at the basic qualification or at the Bronze Standard. We felt, however, that our company could benefit from working through the system and that has proved to be true. In 2014, we were extremely happy to receive the Silver Standard – the first UK pest control company to do this – and now we can truly say we have joined the elite because there is only one other pest control company in the UK to have the Gold Standard, and they are in Scotland. It is wonderful that businesses like us and Excel Environmental Services are pushing up standards in the industry.
The evaluation of our assessor, Anne Hyde, I think, says it all: “[the award is] testament to Cleankill’s commitment to engaging, empowering, developing and rewarding the whole workforce.”
Our workforce is important to us. They are our ‘shop front’ as they represent us out on the street and in client’s homes and businesses. We are confident our technicians are among the most highly trained in the world and we are always looking for ways to develop their capabilities, because developing them as individuals also progresses our business. When an employee feels valued and they are engaged in their work, they also have a feeling of ‘ownership’ over the business and therefore give their best work. Which brings us full circle. Staff that are giving their best are also providing our customers will excellent service and, ultimately, it is a happy customer than brings in the next customer.
Customer service and staff development have been two main facets of what has made Cleankill such a successful company. It was a subject I was asked to talk about recently on local digital radio station, Ridge Radio. I was invited to be on the ‘Business Show’, host by Chantal and Matthew. At the time, I hadn’t heard the Investors in People news, but it was an enjoyable chat and hopefully listeners got some insight in our business and how we have made it work. To listen to the broadcast, click here.