Customer service expectations evolve over time, and current technology spurs an often-rapid change in what your clientele expects from both service quality and general interactions with your staff. Those changes can be difficult to keep up with, but the same technology that is changing your customers can also help you please them.
Some Current Trends in Customer Service Expectation
It’s probably no surprise to anyone that today’s consumer is into instant gratification. Access to almost anything with free two-day shipping and big box stores that cater to the customer always being right mean consumers are used to fast service, the ability to score great deals and very little push back from companies that provide them service. That alone can make customer service difficult for businesses in niches like HVAC and plumbing, but customers demand even more.
Technology has conditioned consumers to expect a high level of personalization based on aggregate information. Their streaming entertainment services know exactly what type of movie or music to recommend, so why doesn’t your field tech automatically know what settings or equipment they need?
Other things customers expect include:
- Communication channels that are always open — whether between your own staff or between customers and your staff
- A wide array of options for everything — including products, service plans, contact methods and even payment arrangements
- Speed — how fast a service is provided is still one of the top factors customers rate an experience by, even rivaling quality for many people
4 Technology Tips to Keep Your Customers (and Employees) Happier
Service companies in spaces like HVAC and plumbing don’t have to look at technology as something that ruined the customer. In fact, technology can be a huge boon to service industries, raising revenues by providing additional product and upgrade options and providing tools that let you keep pace with consumer demands. Here are four technologies to integrate into your business.
Project management software
Today’s consumers expect a high level of transparency and integration from any organization they work with. That means if someone on your office staff makes a statement, your field tech must be ready to back it up. Confusion about the job, product or pricing impacts the customer experience negatively because it erodes trust in your staff and business. And fake news, brand scandals and bad eggs have created consumer trust that’s so hard to obtain and fragile to maintain that you certainly don’t need inside help putting cracks in it.
Project management software is an easy way to keep everyone in your organization on the same page, especially when you deploy it via mobile devices that connect field reps to the office. You can use it to:
- Document the needs and preferences of every client
- Track the progress of current jobs
- Launch work orders and communicate with reps in the field
- House documents related to work, including quotes, notes and customer contracts
Capterra provides a great list of current project management software with reviews of each. HVAC and other field service companies may want to look for options that support quotes, work orders, field communication and integration with existing accounting and payment methods.
Mobile device payment
Payment options of all types are a necessity for any modern business. Gone are the days of cash or check only — in fact, both of those payment methods are increasingly obsolete. And whether you’re taking a one-time payment for services rendered or working out a payment plan on a large job, Entrepreneur magazine notes that “being flexible is the best way to get what you’re owed.”
Consider empowering all your employees to take payments with mobile devices that connect to smartphones or tablets — or mobile software that helps them help customers. Include nontraditional forms of payment such as Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay or PayPal to make it easier for consumers to pay you on the spot, and you may increase customer service satisfaction while decreasing accounting work for your office.
Simply keeping up with calls and jobs during peak seasons can seem impossible, and while you never want to take the human element out of your service, a bit of automation goes a long way in keeping customers happy. By automating processes that don’t need a human hand, you free up your staff to help customers with those that do.
Among other things, automation software can:
- Plan and route field employees to make the most use of time while also prioritizing jobs according to rule sets you create
- Manage routine billing processes
- Send emails to customers reminding them of service needs or marketing potential upgrades
- Help you manage online marketing for your company
- Handle and route after-hours calls
Smart home products
That’s just the tip of the automation iceberg — the advantages of this type of technology are so big, you’ll probably want to pass them on to your clients. Offering smart home products that align with your services is a great way to keep customers more satisfied.
Data from smart home products can be used to automate maintenance schedules or suggest other, highly relevant products to customers. It also provides your customer with advantages such as cost savings and convenience — benefits that increase customer goodwill for the brand that recommended and installed the product to begin with.
These are just some ways that technology can help you keep up with customer demands in the service industry. While you may not be able to integrate every new gadget or capability into your business, seriously consider what technology can offer you and how it can help you deliver excellent customer service.
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