Communication doesn’t come easily to everyone, but when it’s your Fire and Security business on the line, you must be clear, relevant, and professional.
Of course, you know it’s not just about communicating with your colleagues, suppliers, and engineers; your high-quality communication needs to extend to the customer.
After all, it's great to schedule 100 jobs a week, but if the process of communicating your appointments isn’t running smoothly, then it’s not just time that you'll be losing. Customers won’t be satisfied, engineers will miss appointments, and office staff will make costly mistakes.
With that in mind, you’ll be pleased to learn that there are a number of ways to optimise your communication. In fact, there's 8...
- Keep up with demand,
- Keep customers informed,
- Prevent confusion and limit mistakes,
- Provide opportunities for feedback,
- Obtain new information,
- Build trust and establish better relationships,
- Become available 24/7, 365 days a year,
- Increase customer retention.
However: before we dive in, let's think about you. You may be using some sort of job management software to arrange appointments and keep your engineers' diaries up to date. The problem, however, is that as you’ve grown you’re now taking care of a lot more engineers.
Let’s assume you have 25 engineers to manage on a daily basis. If each can complete up to 4 jobs a day, scheduling will encompass 100 jobs, daily. You’ll still have to create the job, look at who’s available, and assign them manually to the engineers, all of which takes time. Your software may let you drag and drop to rearrange appointments, which makes life a little easier, but with so many engineers and so many jobs, it will be a struggle to optimise the best routes, times-frames, skill-sets, and more.
That sounds like a lot to handle (because it is), but we’ve not even mentioned cancellations, sick days, missing parts, traffic, or who-knows-what else! Even with a dedicated team, it can become impossible to manually optimise these schedules, let alone find the time to keep the customer informed, as well.
Fortunately, this is where automated mass scheduling comes in. As well as your engineers, it can take the pressure off by keeping customers in the loop, thanks to things like automatic updates, real-time notifications, and even feedback requests.
There’s a lot to be gained from automating your communication. Here, then, let’s get started looking at the 8 benefits to automating customer communication for your Fire and Security business.
1. Keep up with demand
As the number of jobs increases, it’s simply good practice to make sure everyone knows when they’re happening. You’ll know that a simple message is all it takes to keep the customer in-the-know, but what you’re not yet benefiting from is automatic messaging.
So: rather than have to manually confirm a booking, as an example, an automated message offers a simple yet elegant solution to save you time.
Automated messages can be set-up for a variety of situations, offering you flexibility and customisation, but all whilst ensuring they contain relevant, accurate information that's sent in a timely manner, all thanks to auto-fill features. This is capable of pulling information from your database to include in the message for you, be it:
- Date of appointment,
- Time booked,
- Engineer assigned,
- Appointment type, and more besides.
Similar to automatic confirmations, automated messages can be used for updates if an appointment is cancelled, or if information is amended. This way, customers can be alerted, saving you time to then deal with the bigger issue: whether that may be rearranging, or otherwise amending an appointment.
2. Keep customers informed in real-time
One of the fantastic things today’s tech helps us with, is making it easy to reach someone. There’s text, calls, emails, notifications, alerts and thanks to generous data plans and wide WiFi coverage, it’s far easier to connect with someone in real-time, no matter their location.
This brings with it obvious benefits when it comes to automated scheduling, allowing your system to send instantaneous updates for a whole host of situations: be they emergencies, rescheduling updates, or live notifications. The latter, for example, could be sent when an engineer confirms they’re headed to a job, the system will ping a message to the customer, alerting them to the engineer’s progress and estimated arrival time, all without you lifting a finger.
Just like yourself though, customers will also have a preference about how and when they might like to be contacted, particularly if it’s not an urgent situation. You’ll have answered similar questions yourself when filling in online forms:
- “Do you want to receive our emails?”
- “Do you prefer to be contacted by [select method]?” etc.
If you’re able to collect this data, it means you can contact customers in the way they prefer. Not only can you alert them to an emergency in real-time as a result, but other messages (be they invoices, general updates, or even promotions) can be sent in a way that suits them. For example, if your system knows to leave them off an email list but they want a text, it can send updates via SMS, or prompt you to contact them another way.
In each case, thanks to your automated system, your communication can be both bespoke and immediate, ultimately improving the customer’s experience of your service and saving you time, whilst also giving you peace of mind that they’re updated, too.
3. Prevent confusion and limit mistakes
Automated fields are a great way to help avoid mistakes and prevent confusion from incorrectly inputted, or inaccurate information. With your database integrated into your booking system, you’ll be able to automatically fill a message with accurate information. This level of automation helps make sure that information is consistent across your system.
For example, you may want to send a customer-wide update about a new certification for your Fire and Security business. Messages like this are a great way to show customers you’re keeping up-to-code, demonstrating your due diligence and accountability. However, rather than just send a generic email, you can set fields to make each message appear more personal for each customer.
Simple adjustments, such as auto-filling in the client’s name (rather than a generic “Dear Sir/Madam”), is more likely to engage and appeal to the reader. It’s a personal touch that makes a noted impact. You can even divide your audience to include only people the message is relevant to i.e. filtered by location, date, or status as a customer, and auto-added to your message after removing others.
As a result, you know your customer is receiving accurate information, relevant to them, each and every time. It’s useful at every stage of a booking, whether it’s confirming the booking, rescheduling because of parts not arriving on time, or updating with a final invoice.
4. Provide opportunities for feedback
When you’ve finished an appointment, it’s always helpful to get some feedback; however, getting that feedback is rarely easy. Engineers might forget to ask, or clients might not be interested if messages come too late.
Helpfully, you can set up an automatic notifications so that when a job is marked as completed a message can automatically be sent to the customer. This could prompt them to review the booking details and complete a payment (they’re far more likely to do this sooner, rather than if the email came 5 hours, or even a day later). If your engineers are completing 100 jobs a day, it’s a no-brainer to have this automated, saving you time and a great deal of effort from having to do this manually.
Depending on what feedback you’re after, you could even set up notifications to go out once a client has used your service a certain number or times, or after a set period of time, checking to see if they’re still satisfied with your services or have suggestions. It’s a great way to unobtrusively ask for feedback (particularly if you’re following the points made above).
5. Obtain new/accurate information
Similarly to feedback, it’s a great way to be able to gather information from your customer and check for accuracy. Asking them to confirm or update their contact information via a message (rather than calling or chasing them yourself) can be a helpful way to make sure your database is up-to-date.
In this way, you can ensure your mass scheduling solution experiences as few speed-bumps as possible. After all, it’s great to have your messages automated, but if they’re going to the wrong accounts or numbers, then it may as well not be sent in the first place. After all, no one wants messages bouncing around and getting lost in the digital ether.
6. Build trust and establish better relationships
Fire and Security relies a great deal on trust. People want to feel like they’re not only getting a quality installation that will protect their belongings, personal safety, or even their loved ones, they want to know that the company and the people installing the equipment are reliable as well.
A great way to build trust is to ensure you appear professional; whether it’s office staff, engineers, or yourself, messages need to be professional, friendly, and relevant.
With your automated system, you can set up templates to ensure your professionalism comes across every time, without fail, and auto-fill features (as discussed) can include customer specific details to feel more personalised and help build rapport, giving customers a feeling of bespoke customer service.
7. Become available 24/7, 365 days-a-year
People don’t stop caring about their safety and security, and neither should you. That’s why, with scheduling automation, your business can provide a 24/7, 365 day-a-year coverage, allowing customers to communicate with you, whenever necessary.
It may be that you have engineers on-call for after-hours, or for emergencies during the holidays, but how customers interact (particularly favouring online) means an automated solution can either help improve your practical response times, or even allow customers to find solutions through preset responses that you've set up say, on your website. This saves you from the hassle of dealing with non-emergency requests as well and establishes another way for business to finds its way to you.
In this way, automated scheduling works for you when you’re not around and can even automatically schedule or reschedule jobs for you. It can then go on to automatically notify your customer through service reminders, and your staff with updates, too. It’s a cost effective way to engage and help customers without a human actually having to be present, and ensures you never miss a booking, query, or question.
8. Increase customer retention
Poor quality communication is a major reason why customers leave their service provider, particularly if it leaves them feeling undervalued for the investment they’ve made. This can be devastating to the all-important trust that you need to establish between yourself and your customer, particularly if you want your business relationship to work.
Without this trust, customers may decide to take their business elsewhere, or be reluctant to re-sign your yearly maintenance contract. By ensuring you take the time to really nail your communication strategy, you’re far more likely to retain customers and keep them coming back as they’ll feel valued.
So, on the flip-side, if you’re able to provide the best service when it comes to reactive and preventive maintenance—which means keeping customers up to date at all times—and do this on hundreds of jobs, time and time again, it will assure your business experiences a higher rate of customer retention, which means more recurring contracts, year on year.
When it comes to communication, you need to ensure you are responsive, transparent, and accurate in your communication. Altogether it demonstrates a high level of care and responsibility that customers will respond positively to, and it will enhance the way you manage your workload, day to day.
Investing the time in setting up your communication with an intelligent, mass scheduling tool will boost your business, giving customers the information they need, when they need it. It also takes the load off of you, saving you time and energy that you can smartly invest elsewhere. As a result, relationships will be stronger and trust, well-established.
It’s paramount that as your role continues to expand—with more engineers to manage, and additional customers to keep happy—that your communication strategy evolves too.
We’ve put together an eBook that expands on the Benefits and Best Practices for when you're looking to implement automation in you mass scheduling efforts. Don’t miss Scheduling Automation: Best Practices for Fire and Security! Download your copy by clicking the link below.