For your field service business, you need to keep the online elements of your business in mind, especially when it comes thinking about how customers interact with your services.
As with any good customer journey, you need to get things off on the right foot and that means you start by focusing on your booking process.
We all know from personal experience that some companies are very easy to deal with (so you go back to them), while others can be frustratingly difficult (so you avoid them).
Whether it’s making an inquiry about your services, having an engineer visit on-site, or having the customer finally pay you: these (and others you can learn about below) combine to give your customer a good or bad overall experience.
If you want to improve your business’s customer experience and optimise their individual journeys, then read on! We’ll explore why an online booking system is absolutely essential to helping your business operate smoothly, improve customer retention, and help when times are tough:
- Give customers exactly what they want (and expect)
- Get your schedules organised for all the extra quotes you’ll be winning
- Make obtaining (and using) data a whole lot easier
- You can personalise the customer journey
Keep in mind that at the end of this post you can download a free infographic that highlights how Customer Portals (not only booking) can help you to craft an excellent customer journey! Click to see the comparison between Using Portals vs Going Without!
1. Give customers what they want (and expect)
Consumers absolutely love the convenience of browsing and buying online. It’s not a novelty anymore, but an expectation for all sorts of products and services. It’s also the expectation that the experience will be easy to navigate.
That’s where a booking portal comes in.
We can (and prefer to) make an inquiry without having to pick up the phone, and it’s even better if we can confirm the service without a single word. You might lament how impersonal that sounds, but there’ll be more on how you can still personalise the experience shortly!
Still, it's digital world we live in as this article from Forbes reported:
“87% of consumers begin their shopping journey with digital, a jump from 71% in 2017.”
Online shopping and browsing isn’t going anywhere, and evidently, these habits bleed over into the way we purchase other products and services. Think about how you order takeaway, a taxi, or even the way you book a restaurant: 10 years ago it might have seemed like a novelty, but nowadays people book online in their droves because it’s easy!
Well...at least when the customer journey is optimised, of course.
If you’re not on board with a digital solution as a means of making your services more accessible, then you'll already be falling behind. No matter your industry, whether it’s plumbing, HVAC, gardening, fire & security, or property maintenance, your competitors can and will use digital tools to help drive customers to their business, instead of yours.
Now, more than ever, you need to be thinking about the best way to provide a smooth, accessible, personalised path along which customers can (digitally) walk. In that same article from Forbes, Marketing Dive report that:
“48% of shoppers have left a brand’s website and made a purchase from a competitor because of a poorly personalized experience”.
Fortunately, establishing even a basic booking portal or online form is very easy.
A typical booking portal for your website generally consists of embedding a simple bit of code. However, the impact this “bit of code” can make, especially when it’s synced up to your job management software, can be profound.
It’s important to keep things simple and clean: clarity is your best friend when it comes to online booking:
- Customer name,
- Preferred date,
- Preferred time,
- The service they’re interested in,
- A (limited) space for additional comments.
That’s all you need to get the ball rolling; the fewer calls and fewer clicks the better!
It makes sense too, as Think With Google reports:
“53% of customers will leave a mobile site if it takes more than three seconds to load.”
Making sure you get your solution right and working well, then, is essential!
All in all, if you give customers what they want, you’re giving them another reason to stay with your business and not tootle off to the competition. Not only that, but you can find yourself streamlining the way you accept booking requests, reduce your admin time, and even start to make more money.
2. Get your schedules organised for all the extra quotes you’ll be winning
It’s important to highlight the digital aspect of a booking portal, particularly if you’re already using a form of job management software or are looking to adopt some to help manage your business.
An online booking form, simple as it sounds, exists not just to benefit customers, but your staff as well and it can have a significant impact on your scheduling strategy.
By taking the hassle out of manual processes and having data synchronise to a database, it can enable your office staff and/or booking team to organise and arrange schedules in an easy to manage way. As a result of data becoming more accessible, it makes the day-to-day time-consuming tasks that were once frustrating, far less oppressive.
For instance, when asked about the benefits of using a digital solution, customers using Commusoft have come back to say that, among other benefits, they felt like:
"The biggest benefit is not having paper [diaries]. Everything is done electronically and is less likely to be lost or mislaid."
You can see more reviews from Commusoft's Customers by clicking here!
Taking your data online improves the way it’s read, used, and securely stored, which makes a subtle yet progressively massive impact on the day-to-day workload. As a result:
- Workloads feel more sustainable,
- Your environmental impact decreases (with less paper and ink used)
- Frustrations caused by missing information, illegible hand-writing, or crackly phone-lines become a thing of the past.
It’s all about taking steps to create a sustainable, coherent workflow.
In addition, automatic responses and confirmations are a great benefit that comes from utilising booking portals. Swift replies help to give customers peace of mind that a request has at the very least been acknowledged, but when scheduling, it also saves your office staff from having to manually copy, paste, or fill in the notifications as well.
For the customer, it means there’s no time wasted waiting for someone to pick up the phone or respond to an email, and, even if it’s late at night, a booking form on your website can help them make an inquiry no matter the time of day.
How’s that for great service without having to lift a finger?
3. Make obtaining new jobs (and data) a whole lot easier
Whether it’s using a mobile phone, computer, or tablet: the processes that consumers are most drawn to are those that keep things simple. However, even simple data can be incredibly valuable to your business, especially if it’s made accessible. Fortunately, booking forms are a great way to capture important customer details that you can put to good use.
It’s hard to argue that a piece of paper is superior when a computer allows you to do so much more with information, so quickly! A few clicks and hey presto! Requests can be fulfilled and appointments booked.
Even if you take the basic information we mentioned earlier “Customer name, preferred date, preferred time, the service they’re interested in,” you can gain a lot of insight.
Seeing which services are regularly being requested and which aren’t can help you figure out where you might want to invest your time (or money), or even see if you need to spend more on training your engineers to fulfil additional services that customers are now bringing to your attention.
Your database is vital to understanding customers and delivering a great service, which can also lead to more revenue.
“When customers have a great experience, they’re willing to pay up to a 16% price premium.” - PwC.
4. You can personalise the customer journey
Even personalising the customer journey (and building relationships) is becoming enhanced by the digital world. The argument that “it’s so impersonal” is one that just doesn’t fly any more, and, in truth, is something that businesses (and software developers in particular) are responding to in earnest.
Customers may demand convenience, but they also want to interact with people. We’re social animals who appreciate the personal touch, but that’s where online customer service can strike an amazing balance. If customers make a request on your booking portal, as mentioned, your system can capture that data and formulate appropriate, personalised responses.
Click the link to discover even more about personalising the customer experience!
Not only that, but since the information becomes easier to organise and interpret, service staff can discover necessary information at the click of a button. This helps them find solutions without customers having to repeat themselves time and time again.
Whilst that may be an extension of what happens beyond a booking portal, it’s still tied to making the whole process smooth. After all, what you do in one stage will affect another!
It’s simple: customer service is at its best when it’s online. Without a good booking process, customers simply won’t be attracted to your services, which will lead you to miss out.
With that being said, it’s a good idea to think about the various touchpoints that make up your customer journey, which is why we’ve focused on the early stages here.
A booking portal is, after all, only the start.
Consumers are understandably fond of companies who provide an excellent service from start to finish. No doubt there are businesses that come to mind who have fulfilled that criteria for you: so make sure you’re doing that for your customers!
Fortunately, the process of improving the customer journey (and making sure it’s better than your competitors) doesn’t have to be difficult—particularly if you’re concerned you might be losing customers to the competition.
To help you out, we've prepared an awesome infographic which shows the 5 Essential Portals that can truly help to transform your customer journeys. Download it below!