When it comes to customer experience, most focus on the latest corporate-sponsored hijinks that usually make it to the trending pages of social media platforms. This leads many companies to think that good CX is only for the big names and no industry is more guilty of this mentality than service providers.
The fact of the matter is that all customers are looking for an innovative experience, whether they’re ordering a drink on their phone and picking it up ready-made at the local coffee shop or simply getting their car fixed.
A great example is delivery companies who followed Uber’s example and started providing information about their drivers and tracking options for customers to see where their parcel is on a map. This proves that service companies stand to win a great deal from creating the right customer experience. Not to mention the competitive advantage you’ll gain by being the first amongst your peers to come up with a great idea.
So where do you start? These days, a job well done is not nearly enough. Sometimes, if you’re in a specialized industry — think plumbing and heating or construction — customers won’t even know a good job from a shoddy one until it’s too late. This means that you have to start with a customer journey map to understand the stages that your prospects go through. Put yourself in their position and list all the actions that get you from having, for example, a defective alarm system to not having one.
It’s important that you’re honest and effective in identifying the pain points. If you’re having trouble with this, listening to the Voice of the Customer can always help. Online reviews, focus groups, or even a short call after a lengthy job can help you understand the frustrations from the customer’s point of view. Service companies are often tempted to think it’s the price that drives attitudes. They’ll be surprised to know that a 3-star review didn’t come from a pricey invoice but simply because the tech wasn’t tidy enough.
To give you a hand, we’ll list the stages where a lot of service companies miss the opportunity to offer a superior customer experience and customer support:
It all starts with a good booking process, from making sure you have your Google My Business profile properly setup and optimized for local searches to a well-designed website.
The often overlooked field service user experience plays a vital role in getting off on the right foot with your new customers. The biggest aspect here is providing them with options, especially when it comes to contact.
Having a phone number and an email listed is ok but if you want to take your customer experience to the next level, then you need an online booking form — similar to what you’ll find on a hotel or restaurant website. Who said that you only need to keep an eye out for direct competition?
It’s important to understand that once a customer gets used to a certain experience, they’ll expect it everywhere and while they might not directly appreciate it, the lack of it will definitely feel jarring.
Just think of how a few years back it used to be a delight to find that a smaller business had a website. Nowadays, any business — be it a one-man-band — that doesn’t have an online presence just looks untrustworthy.
Too many service companies still rely on paper quotes. Typically when a technician arrives at a work site for the first time, they do an assessment. Whether it’s a commercial or domestic job, they’ll need to take a look at the problem first. If it’s not something that can be solved with what they have in their truck, they need to report back to the office and give a description of what further work is needed.
This is the basis of the quote. What comes next is a lengthy back-and-forth emailing process between the office and the customer which involves printing papers, signing and scanning them, in a world where many question even the idea of owning a printer.
Normally, this would reach a conclusion a week or two later, when the customer has already had plenty of time to call another company that agreed to price match the quote directly and fix the issue before your office has even had a chance to check their inventory.
The ideal customer experience, however, requires that you have a quoting software in place. This allows your tech to fill in a quote template on the spot and email it straight to the customer. Therefore, you create a cohesive experience with your booking process, where the customer’s expectations are fulfilled. This saves them days or even weeks of waiting for the problem to be solved and earns you the job that won’t go to your competition.
We shouldn’t have to say it, but companies that still don’t believe that digital signatures are legally binding when in fact they’re just as valid as their old-timey counterparts, are missing out.
If you want that cohesive experience we mentioned, digital signatures are vital. They offer the customer the opportunity to sign a quote on the spot and approve it so that your tech can get straight to work, either ordering the part or fixing the problem. The customer is happy and you’re one step closer to getting paid.
Provide a better invoicing experience
Good cash flow is imperative for a growing business. Which makes it surprising that many service companies still take on small debt. The truth is that small debt piles on until it cripples the cash flow and causes serious damage to a business. Oftentimes, these problems are caused by a poor invoicing process.
Going back to the previous example, a company that hasn’t gone digital will also insist on making the customer wait to receive an invoice then ask them to mail a check. This prompts the bewildered reaction of “by mail?” and “a check?” followed by procrastinating the payment for as long as possible. The latter really is likely since service companies won’t usually waste resources to chase these small debts which is why they end up struggling with receiving timely payments.
A good field service customer experience would be for the tech to send an invoice on the spot to the customer, using his mobile device, then provide them with an instant payment gateway like Stripe, so that they can pay immediately. This provides a smooth customer experience. The tech is in and out of the house in less than a day, while the service company has their digital books in order and money in the bank.
Improve your overall workflow
All the activities we mentioned should be part of your day-to-day process. Whether you’re using a few different tools or job management software, you need to perfect your digital workflows to deliver a cohesive customer experience and great customer service.
Why does this matter?
“Almost 74% of Americans prioritize experiences over products.”According to Blake Morgan
Not only this but with the myriad of options consumers face every day, many have reacted by increasing brand loyalty — basically sticking to what they know. So it only takes one positive experience to gain a lifetime customer.
This goes to show that regardless of your industry, good customer service is universal. Make sure your company is up-to-date on the latest trends if you want to stay ahead of the competition and achieve sustainable growth. Not only will it make life easier for your customer, but it will also take your business to the next level!