Here at Lemon and Lime Interiors we have been thinking a lot about customer service lately. There are several reasons for this, not least that we have recently been shortlisted in the HomeStaging Association Awards 2019 in the ‘Best Customer Service’ category. We are delighted to be nominated in this category rather than in one of the categories for a staging project, although staging is what we do day in day out. Or do we…..?

Personally, (and I am the Director of L&L and so I am allowed a view!) I don’t believe that staging is what we do, staging is just the vehicle for us. I have always been adamant that what we do is help our clients achieve their dreams. It just so happens, in our case, that our clients’ dreams are hinged on the best possible sale of their home. Staging is a way we help them achieve their dream, and for our agents, we help them achieve their dream of becoming the ‘agent of choice’ in their marketplace.

Having responsibility for someone else’s dream is much more fragile, and scary, than arranging cushions. To do it, we have to get to know our client, whether that is an estate agent, vendor or developer, and in an average week, we work with all three. We have to work out what is behind a sale, for so many people they are at their least emotionally resilient whilst selling their home. Apparently, it is one of the most stressful life events we go through1. Add to that bereavement, divorce, an unwanted job relocation or the necessary sale of a long-term family home to downsize and you can already see how mere cushion fluffing just won’t cut it!

I expect my team to have organisational and design skills in spades, but much more than that we value the ability to calm people, to chat and support them through a major life change process. I can teach my team to design, I can’t teach them emotional intelligence, but that is what I seek out in every new team member as our business grows. Even, or is it especially, hard-nosed developers get stressed as a construction budget comes to an end, marketing has to start and the showhome is going to cost a fortune that wasn’t in the original plan, but the agent says is essential. Thank heavens for tea and chocolate HobNobs!

So, it is with great relief today that I read the latest customer services trends and predictions from the Institute of Customer Service. It doesn’t bang on unnecessarily about the elements of good customer service we, at L&L, take for granted; returning voicemails and emails promptly, doing what we say we’re going to do when we say we’re going to do it, all that stuff you can learn on a training course. For us, we are heartened to read, ‘Over the next year we expect organisations that combine excellent customer experiences, ethical standards and transparency to set the standards for achieving both superior customer satisfaction and sustainable business performance.’ 2 Since this is what we know we do best, we are looking forward to a good year!

1 From The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale

2 From Customer Service Trends and Predictions 2019