Reasons customers switch field service providers
Generally, acquiring a new customer is more expensive than retaining a current one. Yet 89% of customers switch field service providers over the course of a year. Primary reasons customers list for switching providers:
- Rude, unhelpful, or unknowledgeable staff
- Feeling unappreciated
- Late arrival
- Failure to fix on the first visit
- Poor scheduling options
- Speaking to multiple agents
- Kept on hold
- Strong competitor reputation
Since a good share of those customers will announce their discontent via social media, a poor customer experience today will make it even harder for your business to get new customers tomorrow.
Here’s how to transform a visit to a new customer into a long-term business relationship
Make your customer feel appreciated
Why would a customer want to switch field service providers when they feel welcomed by their current provider? They wouldn’t. Train your office and field staff to start and end every interaction with a smile and “thank you,” or some variation. Imagine this – your estimator greets a potential customer with, “thank you for letting me come by today,” and concludes the visit with, “thanks again for considering us for the job.” Or your receptionist takes a call and, after identifying your company and his/herself, adds, “What can I help you with today?” Then, no matter how challenging the customer, ends with, “thank you again for letting us know about this.”
Send cards on minor holidays. Use the excuse to let your customers know you are thinking of them. An HVAC company might send out Labor Day cards promoting pre-season tune-ups. A lawn sprinkler service might get in touch on the first day of spring with a discount promotion. An IT service company can offer a pre-Tax Day discount on on-site computer repair. Celebrate Earth Day, Flag Day, Star Wars Day or Belly Laugh Day (really).
Develop a culture of courtesy. Actively train employees on manners, and model that behavior yourself. Provide examples of when to say “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me” and “may I?” Provide overshoe booties for your techs and insist they use them in customer homes and businesses. Stock toolkits with hand wipes so employees never leave a fingerprint. Make it clear they do not take non-emergency calls or texts when on a job, and how to excuse oneself before taking an emergency call. Instruct them not to engage in discussions of politics, religion, and income. Explain that as guests, they should not criticize anything on the property.
Up your service game
Prepare your staff
Take a look at the second and fourth bullets. Unhelpful or unknowledgeable staff and failure to fix on the first visit suggest a competence issue and push people to switch field service providers. Examine your scheduling processes – be sure you are sending the right tech to a job, and that person is prepared for a first-time-fix. Have your intake staff get as much information as possible, including model numbers and photos, when the work order is created. Your scheduler should know which technicians are rated for the equipment to be installed or repaired and what parts to send on the truck. Equip field staff with access to an in-house expert or manufacturer database.
Offer broad appointment options and limit late arrivals
How much do you charge for an hour of your tech’s time? Use that as a standard for the respect you show for your client’s time. Offer service calls in the evening and on the weekend. With the help of GPS tracking, your office can keep an eye on your units, tightening the estimated arrival time, and providing the customer with updates. Equip field staff with field management software that lets them connect with the customer or office with the touch of a finger.
Reduce customer call time with a self-service portal
Provide a self-service portal where a customer can, at his or her convenience, create a service request or work order, check on the status of an invoice, and leave feedback. In combination with job-site invoicing, this will eliminate hours of back-office and front-office time on calls and call-backs.
Actively strive for a top service rating
It is essential that you build a great online reputation. Go to every length to resolve customer issues. Solicit online reviews, either on your website (not best) or in public spaces like Google+ and Yelp. Watch reviews – if there is a complaint or negative review, answer it, expressing your concern and explaining what steps you took to resolve the issue.
Do you have any tips for service businesses on how to boost customer retention? Leave a comment below.