Setting a New Standard for Customer Service In this episode, hear how Ben and Jenny McAvoy, owners of Insectek Pest Solutions, prioritize communication and put customers at ease in the face of stressful pest encounters.

By Emily Washcovick

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Courtesy of Insectek

When Ben and Jenny McAvoy found bugs in their Phoenix home, they struggled to get in touch with pest control businesses in the area to resolve their issue. Seeing a chance to turn an obstacle into an opportunity, they decided to create their own pest control business, Insectek Pest Solutions, to fill the gaps they saw in current providers.

As customers themselves, Ben and Jenny wanted Insectek to provide excellent customer service and speedy communication. The couple first focused on technology and implemented a text system so they could easily get in touch with customers and provide frequent updates.

"If you see a scorpion here in Arizona, you want to make sure you get a hold of somebody," Jenny said. "We wanted to make sure that we were being communicated to when an appointment was to come up and we felt safe when a technician showed up at the door."

When it comes to small businesses that provide home services, it's important to make customers feel comfortable letting employees, who are strangers to them, into their personal space.

For Ben and Jenny, trust goes back to the hiring process. At Insectek, the couple hires technicians based on their soft skills and ensures they know how to make customers feel at ease during a stressful situation.

"Our interview process is very laid back, and what happens typically with that laid-back process is if a person's not right for Insectek, they kind of out themselves in the interview," Ben said. "We hire people that have good character traits, that have empathy, that take it personally when they have to go back to a home because bugs popped up or something."

When Yelp reviewer Rosie P. contacted Insectek, she was dealing with stressful personal circumstances on top of her pesky bug issue. She was impressed with the seamless text communications she had with Insectek and therefore felt comfortable having them in her home.

The day of her Insectek appointment, Rosie had to take her mother to the hospital for a health emergency. After communicating with Jared, an Insectek tech, Rosie was able to arrange a time for him to still come that day and resolve her bug issue.

"It was kind of one of those comedies of errors where all you could do was cry, and yet Jared was communicating to me via text, and he was very empathetic about the situation," Rosie said. "I knew right away, once I had those first few interactions with Insectek, that this was a company that I could trust and that actually cared about its customers, and I wasn't just somebody that was in their paperwork."

Ben and Jenny apply the same empathy that Rosie experienced to all customer interactions online. The couple responds to every Yelp review, regardless of whether the reviews are positive or critical.

When it comes to critical reviews, Ben and Jenny take them as learning opportunities rather than taking them personally. They are quick to resolve concerns and provide refunds if customers are unsatisfied with the service they received.

"The customer may not always be right, but you do need to listen to them, and usually there is some truth in what they're saying, even if they're somewhat unreasonable," Ben said. "There's something where you can take the blame and you can learn and improve."

Other business owners can learn from Ben and Jenny's business journey, such as the following tips:

  • Update customers in a timely manner. If you are running late for an appointment or service, notify your customer as soon as possible. Even if Insectek technicians are running only five minutes late, they will inform their customers.
  • Stay organized by creating standardized processes. Jenny created organized systems for dealing with regular tasks like billing and scheduling. For instance, the administrative staff does a monthly review of appointments that were canceled or rescheduled to ensure customers weren't charged incorrectly.
  • Own up to your mistakes. As a small business, mistakes are an inevitable part of the journey—use them as a learning opportunity. If a pest control technician accidentally breaks something in a home, Insectek responds rapidly and sends out a provider to fix it.
  • Foster an enjoyable staff environment. Ben and Jenny try to make their employees feel like a family by hosting weekly meetings and having regular lines of communication. This welcoming attitude extends to customer interactions.

Listen to the episode below to hear directly from Ben, Jenny, and Rosie, and subscribe to Behind the Review for more from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.

Available on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Soundcloud.

Emily Washcovick

Small Business Expert at Yelp

As Yelp’s Small Business Expert, Emily is meticulously focused on helping local business owners succeed and grow. Her expertise lies in customer engagement, reputation management, and all things digital marketing. Through speaking engagements and thought leadership, Emily shares industry insights that entrepreneurs in any business category can leverage for the growth and well-being of their businesses. She is also the host of Behind the Review, a podcast from Yelp and Entrepreneur Media, where each episode features conversations with a business owner and a reviewer about the story and lessons behind their interactions.

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