Why Is BUGCO’s Customer Service Houston’s Best in Pest Control
In this episode of the BUGCO Podcast, John Onofrey and Darrell Mather talk about BUGCO’s commitment to providing outstanding customer service to our Houston customers. Call us at 281-240-2157.
Summary of John Onofrey’s Customer Service Podcast
John Onofrey: Hello and welcome and thanks for being with us today. I’m on the phone with Darrell Mather and Darrell is the customer service / special projects manager for BUGCO Pest Control.
Hey Darrell, how you doing today?
Darrell Mather: Oh, I’m great John. How are you doing?
John Onofrey: Good, sir, good. Hey, thanks for joining me on this call.
Darrell Mather: Glad to be here.
John Onofrey: Sorry to jump in there, but listen Darrell, your responsibilities are quite broad and I know your primary focus is on customer service for BUGCO Pest Control in Houston. BUGCO’s online reputation is quite good, five stars in fact. What I think you guys are doing something right there. What I wanted to try to get you to talk about is what do you feel like some of your main focus points are in trying to provide customer service for BUGCO’s customers?
Darrell Mather: Yeah, sure, I’ll hit on a few of those points, actually. We have customers from The Heights, Sugar Land, Katy, Cinco Ranch, all the way down to Galveston. We service the greater Houston metro area of course and surrounding areas. With all of these customers, regardless of who they are or where they are, we like to focus there in the office and call center about this customer experience, John.
Every one of our call center agents, they’re really considerate of every customer’s time and we try to do things, when we schedule our appointments, we don’t do these four hour windows, we do very specific times so that we’re in, we’re out and the customer has the rest of their day to spend either with the family or go to work. We try to make it as convenient as possible for our clients. That’s also why we have no contracts. We have what is a convenience agreement. They can use us for as long as they want or as little as they want without obligation. If they want to move and go with another company, they can do that. It’s really all about making the client that’s on the phone at that time, the most important client of the day.
John Onofrey: You touched on a few things and when you’re a service company, and I think some service companies tend to forget, what you just mentioned, it’s all about convenience to the customer. Myself having experiences with service companies that give me these huge windows, like, in the afternoon, be there from 12 to 6 o’clock in the evening and I’m waiting or maybe I take time off from my job to wait and the guy shows up at the very tail end of the time window or he doesn’t show up at all.
Darrell Mather: Or doesn’t show up at all, that’s correct.
John Onofrey: You don’t get a phone call. I think our people are trained to … When we run into situations, you’re going to, but, we make an effort to call people and notify them and then, sometimes things have to get rescheduled.
Darrell Mather: Oh, yeah. Customer communication is, that’s a first. Without communicating to the customer … If they’re not informed, if we don’t have a happy client we might not have a client. The more informed and educated the client is, about the appointment time, the service itself, if you can educate them on … Basically, that it’s John, we set the level of expectation and try to set it high and we meet that customer service standard, hence the very positive Google reviews, the very positive Yelp reviews.
John Onofrey: Right. You’ve got quite a call center that’s handling telephone calls for inbound, we also make outbound calls right? Because you’re calling customers to remind them that they have upcoming service and to let them know. You’re emailing customers to let them know. You’ve got quite the operation there in the call center, but you’ve got a pretty good staff. For a pest control company, that impresses me because a lot of times, in the pest control industry, there’s calls going to voicemail. Maybe it’s a one man operation and he’s out in the field doing the work and the phone’s going to his voicemail and then he’ll pick that up and call it back. We don’t do that at BUGCO. You don’t do that, right?
Darrell Mather: No sir, that’s correct. The opposite is also true. A lot of these have mega corporations, they have call centers and their clients end up just becoming another number so to speak. We have personal relationships with so many of our clients because we’re community oriented. You’re right, we have a heavy inbound call volume and we also have a heavy outbound call volume because we are giving those reminder calls or the courtesy, call to touch base, see how the client is doing, maybe a month later, try to determine if there’s an issue that’s persisting so we can get back out there and make sure that it’s addressed.
In regards to our staff and their training, we’ve tried to empower them to handle a lot of the things that normally would be escalated up the chain to upper management. We train them in such a way to where a lot of these issues aren’t really even issues. They can be resolved quickly, easily and to the satisfaction of the customer. That’s because we do process, like you said, high call volume. On an average month, we have about 4,500 calls or more, inbound and outbound. So, it comes down to that BUGCO agent, making sure they can take care of the customer, while on the phone with the customer at that time.
John Onofrey: The impressive thing about your customer service representatives is that they’re as important to the company as the technicians are in the field that service the customer. They don’t always get the glory, but they are pretty expert at what they do and can handle most questions and most customer interactions without anything having to be escalated through the chain, like you say. That’s important because it’s efficient.
Darrell Mather: It is efficient and yes, it is important. However, while they’re not licensed technicians and they do handle the interface of the company, so to speak, they’re the ones speaking to the customers and the first line of defense, oftentimes, if there’s an issue or a question about whether it’s pesticides or more of a technical side of it, we can always get that addressed in one way or the other, whether it’s having a technician call or sometimes we’ll have one of the managing supervisors just get on the phone real quick and provide the information. It’s easily resolvable with the right method.
John Onofrey: Right. And you guys have a tendency to under promise and over deliver. I think that’s kind of a company mantra. That’s what really impresses clients. Our under promise is probably better than most companies over promise and then we carry through and we over deliver on our under promise. To me, you set the customer expectation and your aim is to exceed what you’ve set.
Darrell Mather: That is 100% true. I couldn’t have said it any better. The over delivery and under promising is a key feature of how we deliver our customer service. Yes, most certainly, the customer expectation, from what to expect with the pests or insects, wildlife, rodents and the treatment and service methods that we use down to the warranty and the policies that are in place if we do have to come back for any reason. We try to ensure that the customer, at the end of the day, feels comfortable and satisfied with the information received as well as the customer service.
John Onofrey: That’s outstanding. Most customers are great. 99.9% of our customers are great people. They trust us to do a great job for them. In fact, they call us because they see our reputation and we try our best to live up to that reputation, but the reality of it is, there’s some people out there that you really don’t want as customers. There’s employees that you don’t want as employees. So, accountability is a big deal, even with our customers. I really hate to say it, but some customers you have to fire. There’s few and far between, but do you find that to be true?
Darrell Mather: That’s going to be true of every industry, John, certainly. I think that everyone that normally listens to this or perhaps reads it that has experienced this at one time or another. So, BUGCO’s not any different. That’s why we have, for instance, the no contracts. If a customer doesn’t want to do business with us, they can always go elsewhere and sometimes, if the customer’s not helping us, help them, then we can no longer service that client in that capacity so it’s better if we just parted and went separate ways.
John Onofrey: Exactly. I mentioned Darrell, that you are also kind of, you serve a dual role. You handle a lot of our special projects at BUGCO Pest Control. I think we might let a little cat out of the bag, here, that we’re expanding our operation into San Antonio, Texas.
Darrell Mather: Yeah, very exciting.
John Onofrey: Yeah. Next year. So, you are going to be one of the point men on helping that operation that already exists there transition into the way that we do business here in Houston.
Darrell Mather: Right. We’re going to be carrying over the policies and these expectations, these reviews that we’ve been discussing, over into San Antonio. We’ve recently expanded our call center to accommodate that volume. We’re going to be hiring and training some new office staff members for this expansion. One of the programs that we also implemented to incorporate into this expansion into San Antonio, is what’s known as BUGCO Bucks. It’s the referral program that we have going on. What ends up happening is, for every time that you refer a client to BUGCO and they utilize our services, you end up getting five dollars. Both you and that client, your referral, end up getting five dollars off your next service. So, it’s pretty much unlimited. You can get five dollars for every referral.
John Onofrey: That’s kind of a strategy to take care of your customers. It’s like a customer loyalty program, if I’m not mistaken. Those BUGCO Bucks are cumulative, so you can hand out ten of those certificates to your friends and if they sign up, well then, that’s 50 bucks off your next service, is that right?
Darrell Mather: Yeah, that’s definitely correct. It is pretty much unlimited. You can nearly get a free service if you could get that many referrals. It is a customer rewards / loyalty program because our customers … We get these wonderful Yelp reviews and these wonderful Google reviews and so, we were trying to find a way to say thank you to the clients and we think that this is going to be an effective way. A lot of our long term clients who’ve used us for a few years now, they end up referring their cousins, uncles, aunts and neighbors and they’ve gotten … It’s only been in operation for about a month now, I guess and they’ve already received … I think the highest one we’ve received so far is about 45 or 50 dollars off of a service.
John Onofrey: Well, that’s awesome. You know, Darrell, I know you guys are doing a great job here in Houston. October has been a record month for revenue for BUGCO Pest Control. This is after the effects of Hurricane Harvey that came through the Houston area and quite honestly, we were bracing ourselves and we took a pretty good hit, not being able to work for over a week. It hurt us some in September, but we came back with a vengeance in October.
Darrell Mather: Yeah. It’s an unfortunate side effect that the amount of rain we had … The side effects of the storm, of Harvey, did increase the pest population all the way down from spiders, mosquitoes, ants, all the way to rodents and wildlife. That’s something that everyone in Houston and surrounding areas is facing. So, we’re blessed, in that respect, to be here for the community, to be able to help and provide that service. Our clients do trust us and we have been referred out a lot, all the way down to a lot of the truck mounts and fogging we do for the mosquito and insect populations for homeowners associations and neighborhoods.
John Onofrey: Right. That’s one of the things that helped us picking up some contracts for the mosquito fogging. After the floods, the mosquitoes here were pretty thick.
Darrell Mather: I went to some of these communities just days after Harvey, that still had standing water and the mosquito populations were so bad, you could barely step out of your vehicle.
John Onofrey: That makes it hard to work outside. All the trash on the street, I say trash, but all the debris.
Darrell Mather: It made it hard for the communities to come back from Harvey. So, the service that we were providing was helping those workers and those members of the community get back out there and actually start rebuilding.
John Onofrey: That was an amazing experience. It was sad, but also kind of surreal in the same breath, driving around these neighborhoods at three, four o’clock in the morning, fogging the streets with the houses that are vacant with the lights on and whole neighborhoods with nobody home, everybody gone and they were like ghost towns. But, Houston and Sugar Land and Richland and Katy and all these areas surrounding Houston, came back with a vengeance. They’ve got probably the biggest heart of any city out there that I’ve seen, to be knocked down and get back up and that’s the key. You can get knocked down, but it’s how you pick yourself up and keep going that counts.
Darrell Mather: Well, you and I are both veterans, John. You were a Marine and I was in the Navy. We’ve traveled the world and I have to admit that, out of everywhere I’ve ever been, from the Middle East to Europe, Houston, specifically, just has the biggest heart. The neighborhood and community-driven compassion for everyone has really brought us back.
John Onofrey: Right. There wasn’t any problems, that I could see, people helping people of all races, religions, ethnicities, none of that mattered.
Darrell Mather: No. Once again, you and I drove around neighborhood to neighborhood. We went from Cinco Ranch and Katy area, Sugar Land, out to the Heights, Woodlands, we went to all of these neighborhoods and everywhere that we did go, that’s what you saw, was neighborhoods coming together from every race, creed, and color.
John Onofrey: Right. Well, listen, we kind of voided off the main topic of customer service here, Darrell. It’s still a pleasure though, speaking with you about how we take care of our customers in Houston. I look forward to seeing our results as we move into San Antonio and Bexar County out there and moving to New Braunfels and San Marcos and those areas that that operation serves. Also, Boerne, Texas, interesting little old town that’s growing like crazy in the Hill Country of Texas.
Darrell Mather: Yeah, haven’t been out there recently. Last time I was out, I think it was in the Alamo Heights area. So, looking forward to getting back out there and seeing what San Antonio has to offer and what BUGCO has to offer to San Antonio.
John Onofrey: Well, it’s going to be good. So, listen Darrell, we’re running out of time. It’s been great talking with you. Thanks for joining me today.
Darrell Mather: Alright, John. Well, I will catch you next time and thank you everyone for listening.
John Onofrey: Have a great day. Talk to you later.
Darrell Mather: Alright, bye-bye.
John Onofrey: Bye.