By Karen Carpenter, COO
Caring for others is just my way. It’s not merely how I feel about someone or something; it’s how I behave toward them. So, it’s only natural that I’ve built caring for others into the very fabric of our company. I’ve worked in pest control for more than a decade now and have come to realize how unique our underlying tenets of care and compassion are in our industry.
Sadly, pest control is notorious for being very cold and transactional. A would-be customer – a person in a stressful situation with a very real problem – calls a toll-free number and schedules an appointment with an automaton in a call center. Then, hopefully, a technician arrives as scheduled and does some spraying. That’s it: a nameless, relationship-less transaction.
At EPM, we believe that pest control should be much more. We understand that every person who reaches out to us is experiencing a threat to their property, their health, and their peace of mind. We genuinely care about that person and what’s going on in their life at that moment. So, how do we ensure that our customers are shown care and compassion, consistently? We’ve made care the cornerstone of our company culture.
What it Means to Care
Instilling our entire team—from the office to the field—with care, empathy, and compassion is of the utmost importance to our company culture. And it’s the primary reason EPM has been privileged to serve more and more customers every year for the past eighteen. So how do we embody care in our day-to-day work?
We always answer the phone. Our customers are in distress. They want nothing more than to instantly talk to a real person who can offer both a tactical solution and emotional assurance that the problem will be solved. We encourage customer service representatives to put themselves in the shoes of the caller, allowing them to empathetically address their situation.
We do what we say we’ll do. Remarkably, this is one way that we differentiate ourselves from other pest control providers. We treat each of our service calls as a partnership with our customer. Which means we’ll do everything we can to arrive on time and keep our customers informed. Our technicians are careful to explain to each customer the nature of their issue and the plan to solve it—together!
We solve the problem. Our employees see themselves as problem solvers. Technicians and customer service team members don’t consider a job complete until the pests are eradicated. So, technology and processes have been put in place to help our staff do just that. We train them to identify the root cause of the problem and provide them the freedom to spend as much time as necessary to perform one or more thorough treatments that will eliminate the problem once and for all, just as we promised.
We walk the talk. Over the years, I’ve learned that leaders cannot simply talk about the company’s culture; they must bring that culture to life in terms of leadership behaviors. For employees to care about our customers, they must feel cared for by EPM. Every day, I make intentional efforts to show our employees that our company cares for them both personally and professionally. For the past several years, I have held quarterly one-on-one meetings with each member of our team, which is dedicated time for me to understand what’s going on in their lives and to help them plan for and achieve their goals. I also use every opportunity to remind our team of the positive impact they are making. The service we provide our customers is so much more than pest control; we are helping people live happier, healthier, pest-free lives.
We teach it. To deepen our commitment to caring, we also provide specialized training for our customer service team and pest management technicians. In pest control, no two engagements are alike. We encounter a wide range of customers who exhibit a variety of emotions during stressful situations. So, we teach our team relational skills, including how to resolve conflict and how to defuse escalating emotions, ensuring that they are able to respond empathetically and compassionately.
I know that the pest control industry is notorious for its transactional nature and underwhelming customer service, but by making care a cornerstone of our culture, and by demonstrating compassion and empathy in the services we provide, we stand out among our competitors. We also take great pride in the relational side of our business, not only by solving the problems of every person who calls us, but also in building long-term relationships with property managers and residential customers alike. Most importantly, everyone at EPM can come to work each day knowing that the care they provide is making a positive impact in the lives of the people they serve.
EPM is known for its outstanding customer service, but don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what our customers are saying about working with EPM.