Great Customer Service is More than a Catchphrase

Reputation remains king in the drain cleaning industry.

Great Customer Service is More than a Catchphrase
Anja Smith

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Every drain cleaning company wants to provide good customer service, yet many fail at it. What seems like such a simple task has become increasingly complex over time. Today, customer service is like an onion, with layers of overlapping parts that come together to form the perfect five-star review.

Reputation remains king in the plumbing and drain cleaning industry, often making the difference between a company surviving and a company thriving. Owners and managers must take on the role of vigilantly monitoring the customer experience.

In our family-run plumbing company, we talk to our staff about customer service constantly. But rather than bore them with long training seminars or go into lecture mode, we keep it fun and light by repeating a few memorable idioms over and over. Apparently it’s working, because our company has never received less than a five-star review anywhere online.

I’ve shared my favorite and highest-impact sayings and quotes here:

Good enough is not good enough

I actually cringed writing “good customer service” in that opening sentence. If you are starting with “good” customer service, you are inevitably going to fall short of a five-star review. Five-star reviews are the things of great customer service! How about “amazing,” “superb” or “astonishing” customer service? Those might be worth a story to friends, Facebook recommendations, or more.

For your employees to put forth that kind of effort though, they have to know where the bar is set. If it is set at “good,” most of the time you are going to get “OK” and sometimes even “mediocre.” On the other hand, if they know you expect them to provide “astonishing” customer service, they are automatically going to step up their game.

Our crew hears the phrase “Good enough is not good enough” daily; sometimes multiple times. Their jobs are, at times, frustrating. How often have you been frustrated and wanted to just call a job “good enough?" They have to know that throwing up their hands is not acceptable. Callbacks or unresolved issues are not part of a premium customer experience. They don’t create five-star reviews.

Set the bar at excellence and you are more likely to get it.

Favorite related quote: “You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them.” – Michael Jordan

The golden rule

For our company, reciprocity is such a core tenant that it often causes us to ignore industry “best practices” simply because they don’t fit with how we would want to be treated. Everyone has different motivations that align with how they run their business. We wanted to create a plumbing company that treated customers and employees how we would want to be treated. It is a simple mission statement, but true.

Even if that isn’t your mission, it is a simple and easily relatable guideline for decision-making in the field. It forces a bit of empathy and removes the employees’ motivations as the primary driver of issue resolution. These themes are crucial to excellent customer service — doing what is best for the customer, at times at the expense of the company.

Favorite related quote: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain

Leave it better than you found it

As plumbers and technicians, we are often walking into messy situations — sometimes both literally and figuratively. This is another saying that boils down to going above and beyond. While there is a limit as to how far this one can go, if the bar is set at “better,” then you can at least be assured that employees have cleaned up after themselves.

Going this extra mile doesn’t have to mean cleaning up a literal mess. Your phone staff can leave a person’s day better than they found it.

A pleasant attitude and assurances that your team is going to take care of their headache can often leave a customer's disposition better than you found it.

Favorite related quote: “I find that the harder I work the more luck I seem to have.” – Thomas Jefferson


This last one is for you, leaders. While the other three idioms are great sound-bite reminders to pass along to your staff, “Keep It Simple” is just for you. As someone who has an eye more on the big picture than on the day-to-day, it can be easy to overlook competing priorities. Review the directives, policies and programs that you have passed down to your employees. Make sure none of the directives you have passed down over time conflict each other. Ask yourself how you can simplify and boil down your organization’s goals, or at least get them more aligned.

If your employee feels between a rock and a hard place between your own policies, this is going to cause unnecessary stress. In the end, they will choose the solution that is most self-serving, rather than what is best for the customer. We don’t blame them for this; it is after all the human thing to do.

Keeping it simple can remove conflict and stress from your employees and make sure they are focused on their primary objective — serving your customers well.

My favorite related quote: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

Remember, customer service quality is always the responsibility of ownership and management. Always. It’s a buck you don’t get to pass on. You hired these employees, you set these policies, and you oversee the operations. Excelling in customer service is an excellent first step to a thriving company.

Since you likely have way too many things on your plate to oversee every interaction and decision, training and trust with your employees is crucial. Communication is the first step to aligning those staff members with your vision for customer service. Catch phrases, idioms and quotes can be a really great illustrative way of conveying a more complex point. Consider looking for the right idioms for your own organization. At least that’s one layer of the onion you don’t have to worry about anymore.

About the author: Anja Smith is managing partner for All Clear Plumbing in Greenville, South Carolina. She can be reached at


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