A callback begins when a customer has a perceived need and requests additional service from a pest control company. The customer calls their pest control provider to correct the issue. A technician is dispatched and corrective measures are implemented. This process has a significant financial cost on a pest control operation. These costs include tangibles such as equipment, labor and pesticides, but also include the lost revenue that could be earned from a paid service call. When an organization evaluates ways to reduce callbacks for their pest services, the focus for improvement is often on technician training and product selection. Looking at the callback process there is an opportunity that most companies overlook and that is the point of contact between the customer and the pest control provider. The callback begins with the customer service representative interacting with the homeowner and basic insect knowledge is essential to a productive call. The customer service representative should be able to determine if your customer needs a callback or if the call is a sales lead.

One of the most common reasons for unnecessary callbacks is misidentification of the pest. For example, customers can often confuse ants with termites or springtails with fleas. In some cases these pests are not included in the service agreement. Each of these situations can be mistakenly entered as a callback when in most organizations they should be a new sales opportunity. If customer service representatives are properly trained with a few basic questions the number of callbacks can be reduced. For the purpose of this article let’s look at callbacks involving ants. The following questions and communication are examples of how to better come to the correct conclusion when communicating with a customer:

    1. Can the customer accurately describe the pest?
      • Ask the customer if they can describe what the pest looks like or if they can take a picture of the pest. If they cannot take a picture of the pest, use your knowledge of the pest to better understand what it might be.
      • What does it look like? Does the pest have wings or antennae? Are the antennae straight or elbowed? Does it have a straight or pinched waist? How many are there? Where are they congregating?
    2. Effectively communicate the next steps.
      • Communicate to the customer that an inspection might be necessary to accurately identify the pest. If the pest turns out to be something not covered under the current service agreement communicate the next steps or options available to the customer.

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